Business has been sweet this year for Crave Cookie Dough.
The edible cookie dough venture, which celebrated its first year of business May 11, has expanded its product line and plans to add a second location to take the treats into south Springfield. The owners say it’s a step toward their goal of becoming a franchise.
“It’s been the game plan from the beginning,” says co-owner Dylan Collins. “We wanted to get the brand established and then work on franchising our stores from there.”
The business was birthed after Collins found a video about a cookie dough recipe and began researching the idea of opening a business. He and co-owner Maggie West, who was his colleague at Maria’s Mexican Restaurant, decided to hop into the emerging market.
Crave was the first cookie dough shop to open in Springfield.
“It was kind of a trend we saw coming up, and we wanted to jump in,” Collins says.
“We got a lot of people in the door and introduced (them) to the cookie dough idea, so we were more than happy.”
Edible cookie dough shops have boomed across the country over the last few years as the most recent niche dessert option. A 2017 report from Future Market Insights says the cookie dough market was expected to grow by 9% year-over-year.
Crave offers edible cookie dough in many forms, including scoops, sandwiches, shakes and dough bites, and the product also is suitable for vegan and gluten-free diets. All dough can be baked into traditional cookies, including the puppy dough treats, which are priced at $2.50.
“We wanted to include all of Springfield’s customers,” West says, with a laugh.
It worked. The store surpassed its annual sales goal within the first seven months, she says, declining to disclose company revenue.
First to market
Collins says when the duo jumped into the cookie dough game, the market was mainly e-commerce besides the brick-and-mortar DO out of New York City. Now, edible cookie dough shops are all around.
New to the Springfield scene is the Tennessee-based NoBaked Cookie Dough franchise, which opened in June in the former Star Cakes spot in the Fremont Corners shopping center. Crave also occupied a former cupcake shop, The Urban Cup, when it relocated from 325 E. Walnut St.
Cupcake and frozen yogurt shops have rushed into the Springfield market over the last decade, following national trends, though many have since shuttered. Store closures include Cherry Berry, FruityLand, two Gigi’s Cupcakes stores, Alexandria’s Cupcake Cottage and The Cake Pop Co.
Collins says they’re focusing on a second location before they pursue a franchise path so their story doesn’t play out like the frozen yogurt and cupcake fads. He says the key is having a well-established brand.
“We wanted to get everything established extremely well so we can withstand a market withdrawal in eight to 10 years,” he says.
Nationwide, there are at least seven edible cookie dough franchises, according to Springfield Business Journal research. The Springfield site marks NoBaked’s sixth location. Collins says NoBaked is Crave’s only direct competition.
“When we first opened,” Collins says, “we didn’t know if we were in competition with Insomnia (Cookies) or with a bakery. But we’ve kind of fallen in the middle.”
When they moved into their downtown location, Collins says they were able to purchase the equipment from the former cupcake shop. The startup was funded by a $130,000 U.S. Small Business Administration loan and a 20 percent investment from Collins and investors, according to SBJ archives.
Crave Cookie Dough has an evolving menu, West says, but there are eight permanent flavors.
Think chocolate chip, wedding cake, brownie batter and salted caramel pretzel. And each month, the dessert shop rotates two seasonal flavors. June’s flavors are PB&J and Dirtworm Pie.
Most sales are of cookie dough scoops, priced at $4-$7. West says the shakes, which at $7 have become increasingly popular, are made with milk from Purdy-based Edgewood Creamery. West says it was the last item the duo put on the menu.
Three or four months after opening, West and Collins made a switch in their ingredients to use an egg substitute instead of pasteurized eggs. West says the move greatly improved their product.
“It gave us a more versatile product that can bake and is also (still) edible,” West says.
Crave Cookie Dough can be found at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks, as well as at Canna Bliss, a CBD store with two locations in Springfield. CBD-infused cookie dough is available at both Canna Bliss and Crave’s downtown location. The partnership began in February of 2019.
“We decided it would be a good idea to incorporate (CBD) into our cookie dough, seeing that they had a couple of different options in their store currently, like gummies,” West says. “We figured we could make a partnership there and build off of each other a little bit as two growing businesses in Springfield.”
Jamie Tillman, owner of Canna Bliss, says it’s too early to know the payoff of the business partnership, but she says the CBD-infused cookie dough is a conversation piece.
“It benefits both businesses because they come to both places,” Tillman says.
The CBD-infused dough is offered in a chocolate chip flavor.
More companies are considering adding CBD to their products, such as Oreo cookies and Ben & Jerry’s.
“I think it’s kind of cool that a local company got a leg up on them,” Tillman says of the international companies.
Crave uses products from suppliers such as Springfield-based Got Your Six Coffee Co., SGC Foodservice and US Foods.
The edible cookie dough can be delivered through Uber Eats, Grubhub and carGO, and catering is available for larger parties and events.
Steve Childers to lead city’s key growth initiatives, including Forward SGF.