Photo by James Dickinson
Sugar Shack Donuts has been open for about five months, and during that time, it has given away between 30 to 200 doughnuts daily. Asked how the tradition got started, owner Ian Kelley seems surprised. Giving them away seems obvious to him: "Everyone should get a doughnut!" he says.
Each day, Kelley tries to come up with a new way customers can get a free doughnut — things like wearing scrubs, a Redskins shirt or rain boots, or taking a picture of the shop and posting it on Instagram. "I wake up every morning before the shop opens, and I get to think of something new," he says. So far, mustache day was his favorite. "That was the coolest! One guy cut some of his daughter's hair and taped it to his face." People will do a lot for a free doughnut.
Some days are easier than others — you may only have to share a status on Facebook to earn a free doughnut. On those days, the after-school traffic from Maggie L. Walker Governor's School (Sugar Shack is across the street) is intense. "When they start coming in, I stand to the side … and I just start handing out free doughnuts," says Kelley, who also is the varsity girls' soccer coach at Maggie Walker.
"I'm a big fan," says senior Katie Monks. "[Doughnuts] taste better when they're free."