Special promotions can do wonders for increasing the exposure and revenue for retail bakeries. Just look at the example set by the Donut Trail in Butler County, Ohio.

According to a study by the University of Cincinnati Economics Center, retail bakery owners in Butler County experienced sales increases ranging from 5 percent to 30 percent, after the Butler County Visitors Bureau implemented a special year-round promotion called the Donut Trail.

Visitors to Butler County are invited to pick up a passport and have it stamped at the 12 donut shops along the trail. Once the trail is completed, they are rewarded with a T-shirt. When visitors wear their Donut Trail T-shirt at certain businesses throughout Butler County, they receive special discounts.

Tens of thousands of people from around the country and the world have turned in their passports, further evidence of how people love local bakeries.

“The Butler County Donut Trail has brought national attention and recognition to Butler County,” says Mark Hecquet, executive director of the Butler County Visitors Bureau.

The economic report showed the Donut Trail had a significant $1 million impact on the county in both 2016 and 2017. Sherry Richardson, owner of Mimi's Donuts & Bakery in Hamilton, Ohio, said her shop enjoyed a 30 percent increase in annual sales. “It put me on the map,” she said, “and I see it continuing.”

The bakeries featured in the Butler County Donut Trail include:

  • Central Pastry Shop – Middletown, OH
  • Holtman’s Donuts – West Chester, OH
  • Jupiter Coffee & Donuts – Fairfield, OH
  • Kelly’s Bakery – Hamilton, OH
  • Martin’s Donuts – Trenton, OH
  • Milton’s Donuts – Middletown, OH
  • Mimi’s Donuts & Bakery – Hamilton, OH
  • Oxford Doughnut Shoppe – Oxford, OH
  • Ross Bakery – Hamilton, OH
  • Stan the Donut Man – West Chester, OH
  • The Donut Hole by Milton's – West Chester, OH
  • The Donut Spot – Fairfield, OH