There is a cold war in Cache Valley between cookie delivery services Baked and Crumbl.
There was a lot of confusion when they both opened, and rumors have recently spread across town. Are they the same company? Are the owners working together? Are they trying to turn Logan into a giant cookie?
The owners of Baked and Crumbl are finally clearing the air.
“I don’t know the rumors that are going around,” said Sawyer Hemsley, the owner of Crumbl. “I don’t even know the owner of Baked. I’ve never associated with him.”
Danny Noall, the owner of Baked, confirmed he has heard of the rumors going around.
“It’s been a funny little thing,” Noall said.
David Herrmann, a senior lecturer at the Huntsman School of Business, suspects Cache Valley may not be big enough to support two cookie delivery services and predicts that one or both will go under at some point in the future.
According to statistics published by the Small Business Administration in 2016, about 78 percent of small business startups survive the first year.
“It can be a trendy business, and everybody goes there the first couple months,” Herrmann said. “Then you get tired of it and you realize that cookies make you fat.”
The cookie delivery trend started with Levain, a New York City bakery that was established in 1994. Levain claims to have the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie and now delivers world-wide.
The trend caught on throughout the United States and spread to Utah with a Provo cookie delivery company called Chip.
Cache Valley caught on to the trend in August when Crumbl announced they were opening a store in Cache Valley. A month later, the Herald Journal released an article announcing Crumbl would be coming to Logan. The next night, Baked opened its doors with no previous announcement they were opening.
Hemsley was in shock when he heard about Baked. He was under the impression that Crumbl was the only cookie store in Cache Valley.
“I’m confident to say that we were established first (in Cache Valley),” Hemsley said. “Maybe we did not open our doors first, but the idea was there. We announced it and we were ready.”
The Crumbl story
Hemsley is from Preston, Idaho and began attending Utah State University in 2012 with a leadership scholarship. Hemsley has been a part of the A-team, was the student events vice president, and ran for student body president last year.
In 2015, Hemsley dabbled in the business field and opened a clothing line called Ember, which he had for less than a year before selling it. Hemsley is now finishing his senior year at USU while running and operating Crumbl.
In 2016, Hemsley and his business partner Jason McGowan originally had the idea of opening a cookie delivery service. Hemsley said he was fascinated with the idea and felt he had a really good recipe.
“I did alter my recipe a bit from the beginning until we finally figured it out,” Hemsley said.
Hemsley said it took him and his team six months to get their recipe just right, going through bags of dough and thousands of dollars.
“We weren’t just going to be happy with a normal cookie, we wanted to have a Crumbl cookie,” Hemsley said.
Hemsley said creating their business wasn’t a fly-by-night thing, but that “it was be prepared and create something the people will love and continue to love in return.” Hemsley knew if the business was to be successful, it had to have a really good cookie.
“We don’t do as many giveaways or free cookies or discounts, just because we have pride and value in our product and we don’t feel like we need to giveaway our product just to get cookies out the door,” Hemsley said.
Previous Crumbl employee Ava Anderton said she had a great experience working at the cookie company.
“Driving too much was my only issue,” she said.
Anderton quit her delivery service job at Crumbl because they didn’t reimburse her for gas. She felt she was losing more money than she was earning.
Anderton said she worked 12-16 hours a week on average and would drive 30-60 miles a night. She used three full tanks of gas during her time working there, spending almost $100.
Anderton was paid $8 an hour and in tips.
“They’re college tips, so you’re lucky if you get more than $2,” Anderton said.
During Anderton’s time working at Crumbl, the company had strict rules to not talk bad about Baked.
“I’ve always talked positively about other businesses. I always inform my team to never talk negatively about Baked, or if people have an opinion about Baked to just kind of stay neutral,” Hemsley said.
The Baked story
Noall graduated from USU in 2015 with an MBA in business. He is now a husband and father of two.
In August, Noall discussed opening a cookie delivery service with his business partner Conner Ruggio without any awareness of Crumbl. They first heard of Crumbl in September, two weeks before Crumbl’s grand opening.
Noall said he missed out on many business opportunities in the past. He wanted to open a frozen yogurt shop when he returned from serving his mission. After deciding to lease a building on main street, he called to discover that Twizzle Berry had leased the building the day before.
“We figured if we were going to do it, we were going to be the first on the market,” Noall said. “I wasn’t going to let what happened to me earlier happen to me again.”
To get his business opened before Crumbl, Noall went through “the craziest week” of his life. Noall did in one week what takes most businesses months to do: received licensing from the state, registered his business for taxes, got his recipe approved by the state, created their brand and logo, and created a website.
Noall said their original plan was to rent a kitchen from a restaurant that closed at night, but found it would have been impossible to do the amount of work that was required in the time frame they needed. Noall and his team decided the quickest way to solve the problem was to certify his house as a cottage kitchen, which allowed them to bake out of his home.
By the end of the week, Noall said he and his team finished their recipe at 6 p.m. on Sept. 21 and delivered cookies at 8 p.m. the same night.
Baked operated out of Noall’s house for three weeks. Noall estimated that 10,000 cookies were baked within that time period.
Three weeks after Baked had launched, the company expanded into Rexburg, Idaho. Noall said they plan to open a third store by April 2018.
“The funny thing is, we beat Crumbl out by two days. They didn’t know a thing about us,” Noall said. “That was our whole plan if we were going to make this work. The only thing we had on our side was surprise. They didn’t know what was coming.”
Baked saturated USU’s campus by handing out free cookies and fliers for four days straight during the Huntsman School of Business week.
“I wasn’t going to let another opportunity slip out from underneath my hands,” Noall said.
Baked vs. Crumbl
For Crumbl to compete in the market, Hemsley said the company launched a week early but hosted the grand opening of the Crumbl storefront on the originally planned date.
Noall said the excellent customer service at Baked has helped the company a lot, as well as donating 10 percent of their earnings to the local charity RODS (Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome). By donating their earnings to RODS, Baked helps raise adoption rates for orphans with down syndrome.
“Whether my cookie is the best or someone else’s cookie is the best doesn’t matter, as long as my customer experience is great. And that’s what we’ve done a good job at,” Naoll said. “When people order from us, our drivers are instructed to be super nice. If there is something wrong, you just fix it. Whatever the problem is, you can fix it for them.”
Hemsley said opening Crumbl surpassed his expectations.
“It’s just been wonderful to receive so much support from the community, as well as (support from) university students,” he said.