Community support swells for Eagan donut shop struggling amid pandemic
EAGAN, Minn. (FOX 9) - On any given morning, when you round the corner at Coachman Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan, Minnesota, you might do a double-take at the long line stretching out from Puffy Cream Donuts.
"I thought uh oh, good news and bad news. Long line. Good news - there's a lot of people that like it and bad news - we have to wait a while," said Maury Vandberg, a customer.
Maury and his wife Peggy are first-time customers. They drove from Edina early this morning for some glazed old-fashioneds and cinnamon rolls.
"She saw something on a neighborhood blog about this place that was kind of struggling and so we thought we'd stop in and see what it was like," said Maury.
Like a lot of businesses, the struggle at the donut shop started when the pandemic hit. Their large corporate and church accounts, dried up. Unlike a lot of other businesses, Puffy Cream was thrown a lifeline one day last fall, when one of their regulars asked how their business was doing.
A customer looks over at the donut options at Puffy Cream Donuts in Eagan, Minnesota. (FOX 9)
Owner Seng Phothisanh's answer would change everything.
"If we do this every day, every week, I don't think we can stay, keep our doors open," said Phothisanh.
The customer took to social media, asking people to support the family business. The response was overwhelming.
"Then we had lines out the door like all the way around wrapped our building," said Phothisanh. "We're like, 'What's going on?' And he finally, he messaged me and he goes, 'I hope I didn't put any strain on you.' I said, 'No, this is a very good blessing on us because we need the business to stay afloat,'" said Phothisanh. "Words cannot express how grateful we are. We have customers calling from Seattle, California and the local is like St. Louis Park, Woodbury, Forest Lake. Somebody drove an hour to come see us - Austin, Minnesota."
A filled donut at Puffy Cream Donut in Eagan, Minnesota. (FOX 9)
This isn't the first time the community has stepped up to help Puffy Cream stay afloat. In 2016, Phothisanh's husband was on his way home from the bakery when a speeding, wrong-way driver crashed into his car and killed him. She had young children at the time, and wasn't sure how she'd keep the business going.
"Some of our customers helped me deliver donuts to the churches on the weekends," she said. "They would come and volunteer to help me pack donuts, deliver donuts."
Four years later, Phothisanh can hardly believe the support and generosity around her, again. She says the community has breathed new life into her business.
"It will keep us, it will keep our door open and I will stay here and I will make sure our community is happy," she said.
The support has helped replace her fear about the future with gratitude.
"Thank you thank you thank you, you know, this is like a blessing that we can't even imagine," she said.