Sue Gilbert’s first encounter with Nothing Bundt Cakes was in May 2013 while she was the interim director of nursing at a hospital in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
For employee-appreciation week, Gilbert was tasked with picking out a gift for her employees, and she vowed to find something better than the oh-so-predictable coffee mug.
She’d heard employees lavish praise on the nearby bakery’s moist Bundt cakes with cream-cheese frosting, and whenever people bought one as a treat, “nobody would ever share them with (anyone),” Gilbert said, laughing. They sold them in four different sizes – “Bundtinis” about the size of a cupcake sold by the dozen, “Bundtlets,” about the size of 1 1/2 cupcakes, as well as cakes in 8-inch and 10-inch sizes – and nine signature flavors.
“I fell in love with the brand,” Gilbert said, after purchasing hundreds for the employees. She started talking to the shop owner, who gushed over the franchise, corporate support and bustling Bundt cake business.
So Gilbert, 44, began considering what it would be like to run her own business, particularly one with a proven strategy. And when her husband, John, took a job as CEO of medical supply company Hartmann USA in Rock Hill, she saw an opportunity.
Seven weeks ago, the Gilberts opened the area’s first, and the company’s 98th, franchise. Since then, several other families have bought franchises in the Charlotte area, including one that opened March 14 in Marvin Town Centre in Waxhaw and another planned for the Myers Park area.
Two of the major selling points for that location were that a Chipotle was moving in next door – a great way to boost foot traffic – and the shop was located across a small parking lot from Total Wine and Barnes & Noble stores. Gilbert uses those landmarks on the bakery’s voicemail to describe the Lindholm Drive location.
Another boost to foot traffic came from the hundreds of Bundtinis they donated to other retailers, law firms, doctors’ offices and schools in the area. Many of those employees have returned for more. On weekdays, the shop averages 150 transactions, Gilbert said. On weekends, they do around 400.
Every Nothing Bundt Cakes franchise has chic yellow walls, with blue and cream accents, and colorful merchandise for sale, such as Lego-shaped candles, houndstooth oven mitts and cake servers in the shape of high heels. It’s all designed to “give you a warm and fuzzy feeling,” while also debunking the concept many people have about Bundt cakes: that they’re a dessert made by and for grandparents.
“If all you say is, ‘I’m interested, call me,’ why would I?” Gilbert said. “We want a positive attitude that will pass off to customers and make the (right) kind of atmosphere.”