Krispy Kreme Strikes A Deal With College Student Doughnut Mule [Updated]

Update, November 5, 2019: Krispy Kreme has seen the light and realized that maybe somebody reselling its doughnuts in a state where there are no Krispy Kreme outlets is not such a bad thing—especially if that someone is an entrepreneurial-minded college student who is just trying to avoid a lifetime of debt. (Translation: They realized how bad the optics were.)

And so yesterday, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports, the doughnut company told Jayson Gonzalez that he could continue selling Krispy Kremes to doughnut-lovers in the Twin Cities as an independent operator. To make up for last weekend's missed doughnut run, it will give Gonzalez 500 dozen doughnuts to start.

"Our intent regarding the temporary stoppage of him selling doughnuts was to ensure product quality and regulatory compliance to protect both Jayson and Krispy Kreme," the company said in a statement. "Our main concern is that the doughnuts Jayson sells maintain our high product quality standards, given the distance and manner in which he is transporting and distributing them."

To comply with Minnesota state business laws, however, Gonzalez will have to establish himself as an LLC and get a retail mobile food license. All this will cost him about $500. He is also looking into upgrading his Ford Focus to a larger vehicle to accommodate more doughnuts.

Original story, November 4, 2019: Jayson Gonzalez is a college senior just trying to make a buck. He's worked at Starbucks. He's made candles. He's sold iPhone cases. Like any good Gen Z kid, he's tried developing an app. But earlier this year, he hit on a scheme that actually made him some real money: importing Krispy Kremes from Iowa to the Twin Cities. It was going well until Krispy Kreme ruined the whole thing.

Krispy Kreme arrived in Minnesota in 2002 with great fanfare and departed quietly six years later. The state is not completely bereft of doughnuts, but Minnesotans still have a soft spot for Krispy Kremes. Earlier this year on a trip to Iowa with a youth soccer team that he coaches—another of his gigs—Gonzalez spotted a Krispy Kreme store. He posted a message on Facebook Marketplace asking if anybody in the Twin Cities would like him to bring them back some Krispies. He got more than 300 replies from people willing to pay twice the market price for doughnuts. Thus a business was born.

A reporter for the Twin Cities Pioneer Press accompanied Gonzalez on his 19th run and produced a charming story about the operation. Gonzalez would take orders via a dedicated Facebook page (Krispy Kreme Run Minnesota, 3,341 followers) during the week and then get up at 2 a.m. on Saturday for the four-hour drive down to Iowa. He'd established a friendly relationship with Mary Paredes, the manager of the Krispy Kreme in Clive, Iowa, who admired his entrepreneurial spirit and would have the doughnuts ready when he arrived. His order was usually 100 boxes, as many as his Ford Focus could hold. On the way home, he would make eight scheduled stops, usually in Target parking lots. He put a Krispy Kreme bag on the roof of his car to alert buyers of his presence.

"His customers range from all walks of life," Deanna Weniger wrote in the Pioneer Press, "from pregnant women with doughnut cravings to Tesla-driving businessmen to police officers. One surprised man stopped his car in the middle of the street, threw open his door and yelled, 'Are those Krispy Kremes?'"

Gonzalez charged between $17 and $20 per dozen, which was about twice the retail price, but, at least according to Weniger's article, customers were happy to pay, not only because they missed Krispy Kremes, but also because they wanted to help Gonzalez pay his way through Metropolitan State University, where he's a senior studying accounting.

Being a doughnut mule was exhausting, but profitable: Gonzalez said that he could earn more from one run than he did from 80 hours behind the counter at Starbucks.

But then Krispy Kreme got wind of the whole story and instead of being impressed with Gonzalez's drive and initiative (not to mention the weekly sale of 1,200 doughnuts in one location), the company ordered him to shut down his operation. He posted an update last Thursday and elaborated to Weniger: "I know they told one of the big managers in Nebraska directly, and he called me. He said corporate told him to 'cease' and 'desist.'" His customers responded with outrage and advice.

The story might not be over yet, though. Earlier today, Gonzalez posted a video on Facebook informing his followers that he was planning to "wait and see" what Krispy Kreme had to say and that there might be some "work-arounds." Like Minnesota weather, he said, everything is unpredictable.