#SmallBusinessSpotlight: Donut Drop


Located at 835 E Algonquin Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60173, The Donut Drop is the go-to place for all your donut and coffee needs. Charlie and Lilian, owners of the year-in-a-half old hole in the wall, had a choice: Do we get married or open a donut shop?

The decision pervaded them and after much deliberating between the couple, a donut shop opened in Schaumburg in January 2015.


Donuts and Entrepreneurship > School

Charlie and Lilian met in college and have been together ever since. After pursuing careers in their respective degrees, they decided to leave that all behind in pursuit of something bigger: To be your own boss. Such a grueling effort would need to be placed for this to work so Charlie and Lilian worked under his uncle at Gurnee Donuts to learn the secrets of the trade and boast the best donuts in the state. Using similar recipes but grasping newer techniques, The Donut Drop is always willing to try something new with their products.

Self-coined the “hidden secret shop”, the location has its positives and negatives: “It’s good and bad because there are a lot of things that we need to go through and work with just to get ourselves out there,” says Lilian. “Most of our business is word-of-mouth. We depend on quality.” And how that rings true every time you order a fresh donut made the same day you walk in the door.

Guests that come in relay that message right back to the owners every day: “The biggest win is getting all the compliments!” recalls Charlie. “You don’t go into this business for the money. 99% of the people who come in love our donuts and there’s almost no complaints. We tell each other stories because we’re not always selling at the same time and we will hear about someone who just raved about our donuts.”


Freshness is Important

Only sold fresh daily, there’s no surprise why people have no qualms about the quality. Their business motto, “Donuts that Deliver” proves this truth by explaining how they will not only deliver at least 2 dozen donuts to your door unlike most of their competitors, but the donut’s taste delivers as well. You know that everything you order was made that morning and will leave you coming back for more or at the very least, calling them for more because you not only can ask for delivery, but you can reserve a specific donut for pick-up.

“It’s a first come first serve basis,” says Lilian. “If you call in and ask for a donut, we will keep it saved for you. We have people coming in from Wisconsin who call and make sure we have the donuts that they want since they’re coming from a far distance. Some people drive from afar and we appreciate their business.”

And everyone appreciates their hospitality. With call-in reservations, delivery, and daily-made donuts, it doesn’t seem like it could better, right? Wrong. They even offer air pot rentals for coffee. Charlie shared: “Those little ‘Box o’ Joe’s’ don’t last long. They are very expensive to purchase and get thrown out at the end of the day. You save money and the environment! With our air pot rental, you can either drop it off or we can pick it up for a fee but otherwise, there is really no cost. The businesses have told us that their coffee is still hot at the end of a long day.”


The Future of the Drop

With so many unique opportunities for its customers and delicious, creative flavors that The Donut Drop continues to aspire to create, the road ahead is looking bright. But the couple does not plan on coasting down that metaphoric road.  With huge ambitions to someday include a drive-thru with a TV monitor that allows the customer to see the live display of what is left, to include a mobile truck or cart that can be in the city, and to eventually expand, there is still plenty to do for the donut hole in the wall.

The Donut Drop clearly cares so deeply about their customers and has had them in mind for ideas already implemented and beyond: “The whole point of the display of our donuts is that it is in front of you instead of behind us so you can see each and every one of them. It’s kind of like a candy store. Each donut is their own shape and size and if someone wants something a little bit larger, absolutely! That’s yours!”

A year and a half later, it seems that the couple definitely made the right decision when they poised that question about marriage or a donut shop several years ago. But that’s not the end of their story. In October 2017, the donut lovers plan on putting on their donut rings and tying the knot.


Be sure to check out The Donut Drop online HERE

#SmallBusinessSpotlight: Want to make someone’s day or week? Flowers!

Brianna’s Flowers is located at 102 W. Lake St Bloomingdale, IL. with a perfect corner location the store is visible to everyone who passes through the town. Brianna’s Flowers has flowers for every occasion such as Grandparents Day, Labor Day, Weddings, Birthdays, the list goes on. They even have arrangements that celebrate Woman’s Equality Day. Needless to say they have it all. Brenda Nicolin, the co-owner, apart from her husband, of Brianna’s Flowers was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the business and how Brianna’s Flowers became the company it is today.


How did the business get started?

Brenda’s husband Jerry started at the flower shop as a part-time delivery person. The previous owner of the shop ended up having to lose the shop. So Brenda and Jerry had to decide if it was worth their consideration to take over the business and run it. Brenda had said how it seemed to have a great location, and the floral designers were dedicated. The shop seemed to have plenty of customers, etc. So they thought outside of the box and decided to give it a try and took over Brianna’s Flowers on March 11, 2011. Since then the flower shop has been doing very well and they are now almost at their 5 year anniversary date!

Are you happy with the location of the store?

“I LOVE the location of the store” says Brenda. “Every single day they have a customer stop in to buy flowers and say ‘I have been driving by your flower shop for years now – and just decided I’d finally stop in and check you out!’ Once you visit our flower shop – hopefully you WILL come back again!”


What was the biggest win for the company?

Brenda said that the biggest “win” with Brianna’s Flowers was the fact that they pretty much started with nothing and developed the flower shop into a successful and thriving business. Brenda explains, “Flower shops have suffered in the poor economy. The flower wholesalers have raised prices tremendously to the flower shops because THEY were getting less business. That is why many, many flower shops also have had to close down in the past 6 years.” The location of Brianna’s Flowers has helped them a lot, Brenda said. “It makes a big difference when a small company is more visible from a major street/intersection.”

Lessons Learned from owning a business?

The biggest lesson learned was that you CAN start your own business with a ton of work and passion. Brenda had said that getting Brianna’s Flowers back up and running well was not easy. The building, grounds, and vendors were not taken care of when Brenda and her husband took over the business. So they felt as if they were starting from scratch. Because of this they then had to “regain” the trust of their vendors and previous customers. They also had to buy furniture, vases, and products needed for the store like the cooler, etc.


If you had an extra $100,000 how would you spend it?

Brenda said there are many things she would do. She would revamp areas in and outside of the flower shop. She would also try to do more with Brianna’s Flowers L.O.A. (Love One Another) Project. It has always been a dream of Brenda’s to help those less fortunate. She would love to start a “stop off location” for people struggling to find a place to live or are in need of a job. It would provide them with a free shower, free meal, free clothing that they can choose from and a bus ride to a nearby facility that could house them and teach them a trade. She feels many people just need a break in life, and she would be honored to help with something like that! [Editor’s note: What a wonderful woman!]

What is your business motto?

Brianna’s Flowers business motto is simple: Provide customers with the best, freshest flowers and plants they can – for the best price they can – in a comfortable friendly atmosphere. They have many people tell them how they would like to bring in a lounge chair, set it up by the coy pond and just relax there for a couple hours. They don’t care if a customer purchases one flower or a dozen flowers, all customers get treated the same at the store, with respect and courtesy.

Favorite quote?

One of Brendas favorite quotes is actually on a chalkboard in the shop: “Life is all about Plan B”

What do you love most about your job?

Brenda says that the best part of owning a flower shop is that you are providing people with a happy, positive product. In this fast, violent, computer based world we live in – getting fresh beautiful flowers ALWAYS makes people smile. Brenda likes the way their product is given to family and friends when they are happy and when they are sad – and always helps make people feel better and like someone cares. She says it is very satisfying to her husband and herself when a customer calls their shop after receiving a flower arrangement and tells them how wonderful it is and how much they will enjoy it.

Follow Brianna’s Flowers on the web!

Brianna’s Website

Brianna’s Facebook

#SmallBusinessSpotlight: Great coffee with a small town vibe


Think Starbucks, but better. Grahams 318 Coffeehouse located on 318 S. 3rd Street Geneva, IL was established in 2005. They pride themselves for not only their coffee but also their 318 Philosophy. Which is to make Grahams 318 a place for people to “meet, discuss life-happenings, to strum the house guitar, or to start a revolution.”


What the business does

Sell locally roasted Metropolis espresso & coffee, fresh pastries and homemade gelato, chocolate fondue, sandwiches & salads during lunchtime and homemade breads.

Business Niche

Grahams 318 can be found in the June 2015 People magazine’s article for “Best Coffee Shops in America.” There, People magazine wrote that Grahams is more than coffee itself. The article makes readers aware of not only the great coffee but also what gives the coffee house a little something more, its quaint atmosphere and their specialty gelato. People magazine wrote:

“Not a coffee drinker? This popular spot has a pastry kitchen upstairs, where bakers prepare delightful cakes, muffins, croissants and more. The real decadence? Their homemade gelato.”


What makes Grahams 318 unique

Beckie and Bob Untiedt, the owners of Grahams 318 stress in Grahams “Espresso Philosophy” found on the Grahams 318 website that great coffee comes from a line of respect. Respect beginning with the farmers and their respect for their land. Grahams in turn respects the farmers by paying fair prices for their harvest, and respects customers by taking great care in the roasting and brewing of their coffees. Additionally, Grahams supports local artists by having a different art exhibit every month and live music outside on their patio. So along with respecting and supporting a local small batch roaster, they respect and support local artists.


Customers Favorites

Regulars say the best things to get at Grahams 318 would be the Iced Coffee, any flavor of the gelato, their frozen hot chocolate, and finally their famous Fondue for Two. Beckie and Bob also own Graham’s Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream down the street from Grahams 318. So they take their Grahams chocolate to the next level by creating the delicious Chocolate Fondue at Grahams 318, which has grown to be a fan favorite.

Follow Grahams on social media!

Facebook: /318Coffeehouse

Instagram: @grahamshq

Twitter: @Grahams318