Last updated on June 29th, 2021 at 11:13 am
Since launching in 2017, Utah-based Crumbl Cookies has taken the nation by storm, and Wisconsin is no different.
The fast-growing cookie company — with more than 221 locations in 34 states — has expanded to four Wisconsin locations since entering the market in January. And plans are currently underway for three more openings this year, in Pleasant Prairie, Grafton and Appleton.
Crumbl Cookies’ statewide growth is being spearheaded by its Wisconsin franchise group, WIBB, which aims to eventually have a total of 12 stores, said part owner and local operator Wes Henrie. He moved to Wisconsin from Utah last year to open the group’s first Crumbl Cookies in Sun Prairie, followed by another in Madison. That quickly led to two more locations, in Delafield in Oak Creek.
“We tiptoed our way into it to see if it was a concept that would work in Wisconsin, and the community support was phenomenal,” said Henrie. “We always believed that Wisconsin is the place, from comfort foods of beer and cheese to terrible, cold winters, that cookies are a nice complement.”
So far, he said, sales have been better than the group could have ever hoped for “in our wildest dreams.”
Crumbl Cookies has a weekly rotating menu of four specialty flavors out of more than 120 total, in addition to its mainstay milk chocolate chip cookie and chilled sugar cookies. Specialty flavors include cinnamon swirl, caramel popcorn and peanut butter bar. Cookies are baked fresh in-house daily and are available for takeout, curbside-pick up, delivery and catering.
Leases have been signed for the Pleasant Prairie store, opening in September at 9901 77th Street, as well as the Grafton store at 1258 N. Port Washington Road and the one in Appleton, both opening in October or November.
Over the next year, said Henrie, the group will target Milwaukee, Brookfield, Menomonee Falls, New Berlin and the Green Bay area.
With families as the foundation of its customer base, the group looks for real estate anchored by high-traffic retailers like Target and Costco or quick-service restaurants like Five Guys and Chipotle, said Henrie.
Store locations employ 40 to 60 people and are about 1,500-square-feet in size. Retail sites with drive-thru lanes have become especially appealing as the COVID-19 pandemic boosted curbside pick-up orders, which now represent 20% to 30% of total sales.
“We like to be in locations with a lot of energy and that have a growth mentality — the fun places to be, where diverse demographics congregate,” he said.
Henrie owns the franchise group with his brother, Brandon Henrie, as well as two friends Brandon Hale and Ian McDonald. As the group’s Wisconsin-based partner and operator, Henrie is able to keep a pulse on the quality and service the brand has become known for, he said. That includes hiring and training employees, which is an increasingly challenging task for businesses industrywide, particularly those dealing with high demand.
“It’s a challenge, especially in this current labor market, hiring a staff of 50 to 60 people and teaching them all how to bake,” he said. “Crumbl is a company that has such a following that there’s not enough time to be open to gain traction and train our employees. We have to train them all before we open because it goes from zero to hero really quickly.”
An average Crumbl Cookies produces and sells thousands of cookies daily; on weekends, WIBB’s stores go through 400 pounds of both flour and butter per day, said Henrie.
Now after four store openings, there’s a system in place. Henrie said the business felt good about the most recent opening Oak Creek, where all orders were processed in less than five minutes.
“Our ovens are constantly running and our mixers are constantly mixing,” he said. “We definitely want to make sure we can meet customers demands and keep pumping out the cookies.”