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Oahu remains an option for Krispy Kreme growth

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The only place in Hawaii to get Krispy Kreme doughnuts when they’re still hot is in Kahului, but Oahu is in the franchisee’s sights.

"We had plans to go over before now, but with the economy the way it was, we had to kind of, like a lot of other folks, had to put everything on hold," said franchisee John Kerns.

As for an Oahu location, opening date and other specifics, "it’s still in its infancy, nothing is firmed up yet, but I do want to thank the folks on Oahu and all the islands" for their interest, he said.

He, some crew members and lots of sweet, old-fashioned and lemon-flavored doughnut holes were at the Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality & Foodservice Expo (a trade show) last week.

"We kind of came over at the last minute and I’m really happy we did," he said.

Did people stop at the booth and say how much they want a Krispy Kreme on Oahu?

"About a million times," he chuckled. "I wish I could have said, ‘Look for me in October,’ but we’re just not in position for that right now."

However, the company already is on Oahu, to a degree.

"At this time we do have product in Sam’s Clubs" and in Costco. Krispy Kremes are also available in military commissaries, "and then of course we’re very active with our fundraisers," he said.

Fundraiser-boxed dozens of the sugar-glazed treats are available on all islands.

One of the reasons he attended the expo was to explore the possibilities "for me to basically use Maui as a processing center to then get the product out there in a little different format," perhaps in slightly different packaging. "I think I’ve got the dozens covered with Costco and Sam’s, and I’d like to get folks some more options," Kerns said.

He made potentially important contacts at the expo that have him thinking about kiosks, branded cases and other ways to get expanded choices of Krispy Kremes into customers’ hands until a brick-and-mortar presence becomes more possible.

A new store typically costs about $3 million to build, he said.

Then there is the "honeymoon period" when business essentially goes around the clock, "and then you drop off to what is going to be the sustainable level of business. That’s really what we need to look at," Kerns said.

"I feel more confident than ever that making an investment over on Oahu is going to definitely be worth our while. We have brand recognition, people know us and love us and I don’t have any competition to speak of."

There used to be competition, sort of. Dunkin’ Donuts re-entered Hawaii beginning with a Pearl City store in 2001. Krispy Kreme then followed with its Maui store, and at the time the plan was to eventually build two on Oahu, the Star-Bulletin reported then.

The two doughnut dominators never did head-to-head battle on Oahu because in 2007 Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee and Sushi Chef operator Kenneth Iong was sentenced to two years in federal prison and three years’ supervised release for tax evasion and using a false passport.

In the meantime, Krispy Kreme has had Hawaii all to itself.

"There’s a little game that we play when we fly out of Maui," he said. They try to guess how many boxes are going to be on the plane. "Not if there are going to be boxes, but how many," Kerns emphasized.

ON THE NET:

» www.krispykreme.com/home< erika engle is a reporter with the star-advertiser. reach her by e-mail at erika@staradvertiser.com.

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