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Donut Savant, Oakland

Laurel Davis moved to Oakland from Seattle, where coffee and donuts are a staple, and she still hadn’t found a local donut shop that she loved. So she just started making donuts on her own and serving them to her friends at home and at her art studio, where she builds furniture out of old industrial objects. Everyone loved them, and then one day she saw a Craigslist ad for a donut shop that was going out of business. So she just went for it — quit her corporate day job and completely redid the space.

Donut Savant doesn’t look like your standard donut shop — not with the mid-century modern-y lounge chairs in front and not with a display case that’s half-empty a lot of the time. That’s because the owner, Laurel Davis (a.k.a. the donut savant), is in back making (very small) batches of donuts all day long, replenishing the supply as needed, and they’re little wee ones to begin with, so the case never quite gets filled up.

Each donut comes on a little paper sleeve — the kind they use in those Danish sugar cookie tins, which should give you an idea of their size, maybe about as big as a golf ball. Davis has a few standard flavors, but a rotating menu of specialty donuts means you’ll always find something new to try.

As Laurel Davis decided she was interested to purchase the business, she had a series of questions. What could she do to gain the best possible knowledge of the business prior to committing to a purchase? How could she purchase the business and be sure she would not be responsible for potential unknown debts of the prior owner? What processes/procedures needed to be completed with the City and County to properly open up under new ownership?

Lee Lambert, an SBDC counselor with substantial experience in the purchase and sale of business interests, was assigned to work with Ms. Davis. He advised her regarding key due diligence issues and how to work with the information that was available from the seller. He assisted Laurel to structure a transaction that provided high assurance that potential unknown liabilities of the prior owner would not impact the new business. He also provided general business advice regarding various business issues that came up as the business restarted.

The Donut Savant has opened to rave reviews, with very high rankings on social networking sites and fantastic local press. Ms. Davis has hired three employees. She is now dealing with the good challenge of how to meet increasing demand and adding capacity while maintaining quality and integrity.

"Lee Lambert and the SBDC were a wonderful resource to assist me in the purchase of the donut business that I transformed into the Donut Savant. His advice was timely and relevant and his experience purchasing businesses was invaluable. I highly recommend the SBDC as a key resource for small business owners."
(Profile excerpted from the East Bay Express)

Company Name: Donut Savant
Business Owner(s): Laurel Davis
Phone: 510-972-8268