Tucked away on a Welsh industrial estate, you will find an independent coffee shop selling doughnuts which attracts people from all over the UK – when there aren’t any travel restrictions, of course.
Based on Bridgend Industrial Estate, Whocult has been a huge hit, thanks to their mouth-watering posts on Instagram and word and mouth.
People even queue for up to an hour on some weekends to taste their doughnuts – and with flavours such as caramel Freddo, mint Aero and Kinder Bueno, it’s no wonder they are so popular.
The doughnuts are made fresh every day and most weekdays, when the shop closes at 6pm, they will sell out by 3pm- and on a weekend they are likely to sell out by 2pm.
The coffee shop has been open for nearly two years and while owner Scott Magill said that the business didn’t take off instantly, it’s gradually got busier and busier.
“It’s been slow but the last year, especially when Covid started, it really sped up the whole process,” the 33-year-old said.
When the country first went into lockdown in March last year, Scott decided to offer a delivery service.
“The first lockdown we had to close for a few weeks, I wanted to adapt the business and we started doing doughnut deliveries.
“We didn’t even have a website, I spent three days building a website to launch our doughnut deliveries. We would put up a whole week’s worth of delivery slots on a Sunday night so I’d make it live at 8pm, there would be 600 people on the website waiting for them to go live.
“This was a brand new website. I would put five days of deliveries up on a Sunday night and we would do 2000 doughnuts in 80 seconds.
“I would click live, refresh it and they would be sold out. People were saying Beyonce tickets are easier to get hold of! They would sell out instantly,” he said.
The business also has a clothing brand, which has been around for over 10 years, and has been based on the industrial estate for seven years.
“The brand is called Who, we’re a streetwear T-shift brand, we make our own t-shirts and we sell them all over the world through our website.
“We are doing that behind the coffee shop in the same warehouse and the coffee shop that’s there now was supposed to be a place for people to come so they could pick up one of our T-shirts and have a coffee.
“I didn’t think it would turn into a whole brand and business on its own, it was supposed to be just a little side project.
“Because I have run Who for 10 years, I know that you have just got to keep at it and it will grow.
“When we started doughnut deliveries, because we were delivering to Cardiff and surrounding areas and everyone was in lockdown, that’s what accelerated the business really.
“We only did deliveries when we had to close the store.”
Scott works around the clock in order to make the business a success. The business currently has 15.6k followers on Instagram, a tool that he believes is key for their business.
“When the first lockdown hit we were on 6k so doing the delivery boosted our followers.
“I will post a feed post at 10am every single morning and I will do stories all day, we are based on an industrial estate, we get no footfall coming past, without doing those stories all day it wouldn’t work.”
When restrictions eased in the summer, doughnut-lovers queued for their fix.
“July was crazy, people were waiting an hour in the queue.
“Pre-Covid we would have people travel from England, Bristol, Essex… we had a couple travel four hours, he wanted to bring his wife here for her birthday.
“We wouldn’t be here without Instagram.”
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The 33-year-old admitted that he has had to adapt in the last 12 months but they are now expanding the business.
Talking about the pandemic, he said: “It hasn’t been a walk in the park, it’s been good to us but only because we have adapted it hasn’t just come to us on a plate.
“We have had to close the store, we have had to adapt, we have had to work a little harder to make it work.
“We have spent a fortune kitting out the new shop, it’s opening in less than two weeks and people aren’t going to be able to come in and sit down and use it, that’s going to be able to sit 50 people but that’s more looking into the future.
“The last few weeks have been crazy and we have been selling out by 2pm to 3pm, we don’t want to sell out, it’s great but you get customers come in and there’s no doughnuts left so it’s a nightmare, finding the balance of quantity during Covid is really hard.
“I’ve always said I would rather bin a load of doughnuts at the end of the day than sell out because I don’t want people to be disappointed.
“We change the flavours every few weeks just to keep it interesting and fresh, on a weekday we do between 200 to 400 a day.”
On Valentine’s weekend Whocult sold around 1500 doughnuts – the most they have ever made in one weekend.
“People were stood in the snow for 45 minutes to an hour for a box. People are queuing and they are socially distanced.
“Doughnuts was actually an afterthought, I’ve always wanted to open my own coffee shop because I love coffee and we sold coffee on our website before we had a coffee shop.
“Because we are a t-shirt brand, I loved the idea of opening a shop, where people could browse our T-shirts and grab a coffee.
“I decided to do doughnuts because visually they would look cool and that became what we are known for now – coffee and doughnuts are an awesome combo.”
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When he first decided to open, Scott said that people didn’t think it would work.
“This place shouldn’t work, we are surrounded by Starbucks, Greggs, Costa, we are in the middle of nowhere. This was never supposed to be what it is.
“When I opened people were saying ‘who the hell is going to come to an industrial estate for a coffee and doughnut you are in the middle of nowhere, it will never work’.
“So to see 50 people queuing outside from being told it’s not going to work, I think most people think you have to be in a town centre.”
So what next for Whocult after they have expanded the business in Bridgend?
“The goal is to open a Cardiff store. I don’t know when that’s going to happen but that’s what we are aiming for. My dream is to open a drive-thru,” the owner said.
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk