Here’s a friendly tip for T-shirt vendors: You will not get Tim Clegg’s business.
It’s nothing personal. Before Hurts Donut Co. LLC launched, co-founders Clegg and wife Kas were nearly out of money, but not ideas – one of which was to sell T-shirts to promote the downtown store before its opening Nov. 18, 2013.
Clegg had $500 left on a credit card.
“I need 100 T-shirts, but I only have $500,” Clegg told the first vendor who returned his call. “I promise we are going to be a big deal, and we will give you our T-shirt business forever if you work with us now.”
On track to end 2016 with $10 million in retail sales, Hurts Donut became a big deal and Express Press gained a forever client.
“Everything comes back to we were completely broke,” Clegg says. “We spent everything down to our last $7.30. Kas had put a gallon of milk on the credit card. We had 1-year-old twins. We sat there looking at the front door at 5 a.m. (on opening day). Either people are going to line up, or I’m going to need to send my resume out.”
People lined up. Some were even hired out of the line when demand exceeded staff and Kas offered them a job. By week’s end, they had 20 employees for the store advertised as open 25 hours a day, eight days a week; a whimsical nod to the 90-hour weeks it took to launch Hurts Donut.
The store’s success is a triumphant return for Clegg, who had briefly owned the restaurant Room 4 in Springfield, which had the misfortune of opening during the 2009 economic downturn and closed within months.
“In hindsight, I had no idea what I was doing,” he says. “This time, it feels good to win one.”
Hurts Donut is certainly winning. The original plan was to consider franchising after five years. By the end of this year, the company will have 10 locations with five more scheduled to open in the first three months of 2017. After focusing on the middle part of the country, the company soon will expand out west into Arizona, and its first store east of the Mississippi should be announced next year.
“We are freaked out by our growth,” Clegg admits.
What doesn’t freak him out is tackling new endeavors. The Cleggs own the local Sno Biz franchise, and he previously owned a roofing company. Clegg served in the U.S. Marines and the Army Reserves, worked for Ozark Mountain Ducks, served as development director for his alma mater and worked as a headhunter before starting his own recruiting company. It is no surprise he carries an idea notebook.
“I’m kind of an idea guy – or maybe a self-proclaimed idea guy. I’m constantly bouncing ideas off my wife,” Clegg says.
In fact, that’s how Hurts Donut started.
“I said, ‘I really want to open a donut shop.’ And she didn’t laugh at me.”
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