I woke up this morning surprised to see a post from r/mildlyinteresting with a photo of our store getting a lot of attention. Ask me anything!


*note: I’m mostly a lurker, and sorry if I mess up formatting.

*edit: Needed to include proof it really is me

*edit2: Proof with my username added to the sign.

*edit3: It’s about 2:30pm my time. I’ve got to take a break for a while. I’ll try to answer more question once we’ve got the kids down and presents under the tree.

*edit4: Going to sleep. I’ll try to answer a few more at some point tomorrow.

*edit5: Another day gone and I’m off to bed again. Probably time to close the book on this. Sorry if I didn’t answer a question to your liking. Merry Christmas everyone!

Comments: 2809 • Responses: 75  • Date: 

CuzRacecar3282 karma

Can I just give props to OP for actually answering questions and being cool enough to make this thread without being defensive? 10/10 would buy donuts from here

dbuzzzy1171 karma

Thanks for being cool too!

ZombieGroan304 karma

Should apply to ace hardwares pr department.

dbuzzzy774 karma

Ace Hardware has an amazing business model. I love that we are a co-op. It gives us a ton of freedoms in how we run our business while also keeping the “corporate profits” in the local community. I’m much happier being here than I would be working at the central/national corporation. They do great work for us to help us though.

curlyhils2194 karma

What led to the combination of selling donuts AND guns? Like did you start as only donuts or only guns?

dbuzzzy4712 karma

We’re an Ace Hardware and the traditional hardware store stuff has always been the bulk of our business. However, we’ve sold guns for decades (before I was even born.) We’ve only had doughnuts for about 2 years.

The doughnuts are from Cops & Doughnuts. It’s a bakery that was bought by retired cops. Very popular in the region. They were looking for someone to sell their doughnuts in our city and we threw our hat in the ring. I think the gun counter was what sold them on our store.

BlackkDak449 karma

If everyone can put there political opinions aside, this co-op is SO COOL. You’ve got three different businesses coming together. And it’s got the comedy factor too, with the donuts.

Do you get people bribing their wives in with donuts? I would take that bribe anytime.

dbuzzzy225 karma

I definitely see it with dads and their kids. Dad gets plumbing part and the kids get their doughnut if they behave. Maybe even if they don’t.

lolabythebay168 karma

I was thinking, "this totally seems like something I'd find locally," and then I saw Cops & Donuts. I used to work down at the other end of Main St., more than a decade ago. So hi, neighbor!

dbuzzzy83 karma

Hi neighbor! I started here about a decade ago.

Scottishchicken1796 karma

Why is your Ace the ideal location for a meet up if the zombie apocalypse hits?

dbuzzzy1936 karma

I think the multiple exits and rooftop access help a lot. We’ve got a lot of windows though that would need to get boarded up fast. I probably think about this too much.

Flashwastaken538 karma

What sort of madman doesn’t think about this too much. The older I get, the more realistic it seems.

dbuzzzy652 karma

Michigan went into pretty heavy lockdown early in the pandemic. We got to stay open as an “essential business.” I thought a lot about people losing their minds and trying to break in for things. The rush on paint alone was kind of nuts.

official711712 karma

Did it happen that someone came in for a doughnut and ended up buying a firearm?

dbuzzzy2200 karma

Not very often, but yes it actually has. There’s been a surprising level of synergy through the whole store. People came in for doughnuts and see everything else or vice versa.

LocalOnThe8s108 karma

Where can we find this place?

dbuzzzy303 karma

Midland, MI, USA

BoricThrone1456 karma

What are your usual encounters like? “May I get a chocolate glaze and oh yeah, do you have any 6.5 creedmoore”?

dbuzzzy1327 karma

Yeah, that’s not totally uncommon. We kind of got that before the doughnuts too when people came in for other products. I think it’s a draw for some contractors. They can stop in for supplies for a job and see if we have their ammo (or now their doughnut.)

twojs1b1067 karma

Do you use the guns to make the holes in the donuts?

dbuzzzy1036 karma

Ha! We hear that joke a lot.

TizardPaperclip218 karma

He needs a gun range with donuts for targets: Get the bullet through the hole, and you get the donut for free.

dbuzzzy243 karma

Great idea. It’s kind of surprising how far you have to go to get to a range, but people also have land/property that isn’t as far away that they could shoot at.

camworld906 karma

How do you feel about selling something that kills so many Americans every year? And by that, I mean donuts.

dbuzzzy909 karma

You had me in the first half, not gonna lie.

ridicalis894 karma

Were you inspired at least in part by King of the Hill (S7E8)?

dbuzzzy1134 karma

I wish, it was almost accidental. I thought they were looking for a small, self serve case near our checkouts. Then they said they wanted a big counter, the only place we could quickly fit it was near the guns. I was more inspired by how delicious and popular their doughnuts are.

skawhomp790 karma

Can I get an attachment for my rifle that holds the donut so I can masticate while I obliterate?

dbuzzzy717 karma

You should invent that. We could probably sell it.

silent_pm726 karma

If a new law was passed, saying you could only sell guns or doughnuts, which would you get rid of? Thanks!

dbuzzzy1262 karma

We do better on the doughnuts directly. I’d have to really look into all the auxiliary stuff to make a decision, but on the spot I’d pick the doughnuts.

ZombieGroan396 karma

Can you list a few gun/donut pairings as if they were fine wine/cheeses?

dbuzzzy490 karma

Someone on the r/mildlyinteresting post had a lot of the good ones. It’s all alliteration like Glock and glazed. I’ll see if I can link to it here.

sm3g392 karma

Was it this one? "They support the right to bear arms and the right to bear claws" is my favorite comment over there though.

dbuzzzy238 karma

The right to bear claws is great too. My lack of actually posting on Reddit is coming through. I can’t figure out how to share the comment from my phone.

rgotor363 karma

What is the net/gross income for each?

dbuzzzy1116 karma

Margins are WAY lower on guns. Doughnuts make up about 5% of our sales. Guns are about 2%.

Edit: I checked a sales report and we run a 43% gross margin on doughnuts and a 29% gross margin on guns sold this year. That’s better than I expected on the guns. Usually we are closer to 20%. There is an old training video called the 3 Pennies of Profit that gives you insight into the hardware store business model. I think you can find it on Vimeo maybe. It’s pretty cheesy.

Edit2: credit to feureau for finding the link: https://vimeo.com/13765616

hO97366e6275 karma

Where does the other 93% of your sales come from?

dbuzzzy579 karma

Paint is our biggest department. Outdoor living (grills and coolers) has shockingly been 2nd. Followed by lawn and garden, plumbing, tools, fasteners, electrical. Those make up the bulk. We do a lot of different things though. Locksmithing, lamp repair… all kinds of stuff.

LastLivingSouls148 karma


flamingfungi185 karma

Margarines are way lower on the guns

dbuzzzy75 karma

This is hilarious!

redldr1-3 karma

Given that the guns aren't very profitable, and probably are a liability; insurance, security equipment, training, licensing, shelf-rot, etc..

Why not stop selling them? 2% is a REALLY low for retail.

ethompson151 karma

Obviously not this store owner but guessing that ammunition, hunting gear, and other gun accessories have the big mark up. Many people come in to check out guns and walk out with a box of ammo and a range bag or knife.

dbuzzzy39 karma

This guy gets it. They are a draw for people. Contractors come in for paint or whatever and want to stop and check out the guns. However, If something changed and we didn’t sell them, it wouldn’t break our hearts.

PaulBlartFleshMall29 karma

Why not stop selling them?

Most gun stores near me can't keep guns in stock to save their lives, everything sells out immediately because of the shortage that's still going on.

2% isn't much, but a guaranteed 2% is something you take every time.

dbuzzzy18 karma

The bigger question is if we actually get the roi we want for the level of inventory we carry. It definitely isn’t the best investment in the store. Just like lots of things in life, sometimes you do things because that’s the way you’ve done them for years. I’m relatively new to the store and I’ve rocked the boat a lot already. I try not to rock it too much, too fast.

DownAtTheHomeDepot314 karma

Which donut is the most dangerous and which gun has the most calories?

dbuzzzy572 karma

Any doughnut in the wrong hands.

James_H_M279 karma

Since the donuts aren't made at your store and you only sell them, do you pick up a standard order each day or are they delivered to your store?

dbuzzzy442 karma

They get delivered each morning. We don’t have really have a standard order. We tweak it each day based on sales history or if a customer puts in a large pre-order.

Hardcover80 karma

What happens to the unsold ones?

skawhomp131 karma

They end up at the D&D group me and OP are both part of 😀

dbuzzzy47 karma

Oh no… bugbear is out of the bag of holding…

dbuzzzy126 karma

We box them up at the end of the day and mark them down as day olds. We never have day olds in the case. Typically those sell through pretty early on the day. If for some reason they don’t, we drop them off at a local soup kitchen. If we end up with too many boxes of day olds we drop them off at various places. Nurses stations at the hospital, fire stations, the law enforcement center, even other businesses that shop with us a lot. Pretty rare for us to throw anything away.

john2364278 karma

Do you offer any package deals of guns and doughnuts together?

dbuzzzy502 karma

We joke that you get a free doughnut with a gun purchase. I don’t know if anyone has really taken us up on it.

Rivet22195 karma

Can I get the .45 Dozen Combo please? And a coffee.

dbuzzzy371 karma

Interestingly, we don’t have coffee. Biggest missed opportunity, but there are additional health regulations we need to be able to accommodate first.

b3ar17151 karma

Have you considered threading doughnuts through a rifle barrel and selling them like that smoothie guy sold bagels in iCarly?

dbuzzzy120 karma

I had to look that up. Would be an interesting visual, but I don’t think anyone would eat them.

anonpf149 karma

So your main clientele are police officers? :)

dbuzzzy284 karma

We’re kind of an institution in town. Guns and doughnuts are a small part of the business. Top department is paint.

Skanky143 karma

  1. Do you have ammo in stock?
  2. Do you deliver?

dbuzzzy181 karma

We have some ammo in stock. We probably don’t deliver as far as you’d like us too.

browsilla134 karma

How do you make sure there’s no lead or gun oil in the doughnuts?

dbuzzzy422 karma

Staff has to wash their hands before they handle doughnuts. Even if they just take money between customers they have to wash their hands again before they handle doughnuts. Frosting on the guns is another story.

theflamesweregolfin118 karma

How intensive is the background check to buy a donut?

Asking for a friend

dbuzzzy167 karma

Generally consists of, “Hi there! How are you? What can we get for you?” As long as you know the proper keyword responses we can move onto the paperwork side.

Sykes19115 karma

Ok this is a big one.

What is your favorite donut?

dbuzzzy215 karma

Oh gosh. It really depends on my mood. My favorite pairing is a cream filled long john with an Arbuckle Coffee Stout from the local brew pub. I think they’ve perfected the coffee stout.

fuckittys101 karma

Are the guns made fresh every day?

dbuzzzy139 karma

Guns are like the ents. Some of them have seen a lot of doughnuts come and go. They don’t sell all the time and when they do it takes a very long time.

Klutzy_Internet_471689 karma

What kind of training does your staff have? For instance, are there people who are allowed to handle/sell guns but not donuts, or vice versa? Or is everyone cross-trained on everything?

dbuzzzy160 karma

Pretty much anyone can sell the doughnuts. They mostly need to know what prices for the types and to make sure they wash their hands. The doughnut folks usually start by helping with hunting and fishing licenses going the other way. Only a few folks can run the background checks.

Osi042585 karma

In the original picture, what is the donut on the bottom right? I immediately said I wanted one and tried to convince a friend to make the 600 mile trip to acquire one, but I can't decide if it's a bear claw or an apple fritter.

dbuzzzy144 karma

Apple fritter and they are very popular. Huge too. Might last you the whole drive home.

HistoricalBridge776 karma

How do you stay competitive with online stores and the Orange and blue brick and mortar stores? I’m personally a price conscience customer but try to buy from a smaller business when I can but it’s harder to do on bigger ticket items.

dbuzzzy223 karma

One of the benefits of Ace is that we have a lot more buying power than people realize with over 5,000 stores in the US. We can be pretty price competitive. However, our value proposition is service. We have people working here who can actually answer your questions with the goal that you don’t have to stop back 4 more times for finish a project. We’re also set up to buy online and pick up in store, and we regularly run deliveries. We’ll have to keep pivoting, but I’m pretty optimistic about our future.

HistoricalBridge769 karma

Thank you for that answer. That has been my experience that when going to a local ACE store. I genuinely feel like when I ask a question it’s almost like asking a tradesman vs a sales associate that tells you where something is.

dbuzzzy67 karma

Some of them might be retired tradesmen.

Negafox73 karma

Are Ace Hardware owners free to sell whatever they want? I've never seen an Ace with donuts or guns.. and I live in Texas!

dbuzzzy95 karma

Yes for the most part. We are a co-op so most of the stores are locally owned and can sell whatever they want. I feel like there has to be an Ace in Texas with guns. Doughnuts is a bit more odd.

ale_mongrel70 karma

I'm. So. Confused.

I like guns , but don't own any. I have 0 problems with guns.

I love donuts. I definitely shouldn't have any, however I'll eat a donut. Especially with piping hot coffee.

I guess the only question I can articulate coherently is How's your coffee OP?

dbuzzzy91 karma

We actually don’t sell coffee. It’s something we need to fix, but that’s something we would be preparing vs serving. We’d need to be able to sanitize the coffee machinery in house. Today we send everything back to the bakery each day to get sanitized. It’s just the trays they come on.

esol969 karma

When you say ACE is a co-op, can you explain that in more detail?

Does being a co-op in this sense mean that each ACE store is mostly independent from one another and when corporate or central decisions do take place, each independent store has a vote in it? But it doesn't mean that the basic retail employees may eventually become a voting member of either their local store or the corporate structure?

Or does it also include the opportunity for an employee to eventually become a voting member, either through a buy-in process or some other means?

Or is it something else?

dbuzzzy176 karma

It basically means that in order to own any of the national Ace corporate stock you have to own a store. It also means that we get to choose how much we want to fly the Ace flag so to speak. We could order 100% of our stock through Ace or we could order most of it through other vendors. We tend to run all the various Ace retail programs, but other stores might hardly seem like an Ace at all. Having shares does give you some voting rights for the board of directors. A lot of the board is made up of retailers like me.

That ownership does not generally extend down to the rest of the employees. We used to have an employee stock ownership plan for this specific store before I started working here, so an individual store could operate in a way that allows employees some version of ownership. Our stock plan got replaced with a 401(k) because the tax advantages were better for everyone. Our stock plan was non voting shares anyway.

DigiMagic45 karma

What do most people buy guns for, to have them just in case there is some emergency? In my part of the world they are more rare, I don't know anyone who owns one, neither do I.

dbuzzzy111 karma

Deer hunting is huge in our area. Hunting in general is. We do sell some for personal protection, but it seems like it is a lot more for hunting.

Teamrocketcode344 karma

You are so awesome as an owner to answer so many questions & not being afraid to even discuss your profits. Awesome owners is a main reason why I'd rather shop at one store than the other even if it's more expensive. What city/town are you guys located? I'd love to visit if I'm ever in the area

dbuzzzy48 karma

Midland, MI

Ihave3Seven39 karma

If I want to put a hole in my donuts, which gun should I use?

dbuzzzy168 karma

Finger guns

LookitsToby38 karma

Can you think of anything more American than a doughnut-gun combo?

dbuzzzy89 karma

Gotta make room for the barbershop and beer cave. Then our training will be complete.

kdl71437 karma

What do you do with the unsold donuts at the end of the day?

dbuzzzy168 karma

We box them up and sell them as assorted days olds at a lower price. We only keep them on day as day olds. If those don’t sell we give them to a local soup kitchen. If we have way to many fresh ones left over we will drop them off at the nurses stations at the hospital or fire departments or law enforcement center, or even to other business that buy a lot of other stuff from us. Sometimes we will throw a box back in the break room for employees. Almost never have to throw them away.

sm0ke1cs31 karma

are you operating on an FFL? I've thought about trying to get this license to start a side business but haven't gone into depth on the regulations and logistics of it. From what I understand it's pretty straight forward (there's an auto shop a few towns over that also sells guns out of the office and it's a really cool place, sports cars and guns lol)

Is it more complicated than just acquiring an FFL and adding products do your store?

dbuzzzy70 karma

We’ve had our FFL so long that I’m honestly not sure what goes into getting a new one. You’ve got to keep very detailed logs of all the sales and transfers. Plus the background checks can take a while and one little mistake on the forms can mean you can’t buy. Plus the margins are getting worse and worse when you are competing with gun broker or bud’s guns. I don’t think it would be something we would get into today if we hadn’t been in it for years.

Robbersoul23 karma

Wondering, what is your best selling doughnut, and gun?

dbuzzzy42 karma

It’s a toss up between cream and custard filled long Johns. We don’t sell a lot of any one model of gun.

could_use_a_snack19 karma

The first thing I wondered is how can the pass health and food handling codes. Seems like selling unpackaged food near items covered in toxic grease and oil might be a problem. Do you wash your hand a thousand times a day?

dbuzzzy86 karma

Yes, plus a lot of gloves and wax paper. Our health department has been pretty impressed with us actually. We keep a binder with the code right up at the counter.

OtherImplement17 karma

Always wanted to know the answer to this question: is there any money whatsoever in the misc hardware isle? There just seems to be so very many sku’s and I never see people buying much of anything. Is this just something that you can’t free up the floor space or does that isle actually earn its keep?

Also, how many varieties of donuts do you sell?

Thanks, cool looking store!

dbuzzzy22 karma

The hardware itself sells well enough. It’s pretty low dollar amounts. If it takes a long time to help someone, then you burned all your margin dollars on labor. You hope it averages out over transactions.

shay457810 karma

Do you also offer repairs?

dbuzzzy36 karma

We’ve got a retired employee who can do a little gunsmith work, but we don’t do much of that at all. We do small engine repair though.

mbapex2210 karma

The donuts I see look fantastic. Are they as good as they look?

dbuzzzy28 karma

They are really good doughnuts. They are a bit heavier. Some people like an airier doughnut. These fill you up.

noodle-face9 karma

Gonna be honest, if our ace hardware sold guns and donuts I'd go there a lot more often than I do. Ours is a very small store with not much in it.

Besides guns and donuts, what do you think makes people go to your store over home Depot/Lowe's?

dbuzzzy8 karma

For us specifically, we are kind of an institution in the community. We actively look for ways to give back and participate in any community activity we can. I think that does a lot more for us than having guns or doughnuts (though the doughnuts have gone over exceptionally well.)

V6TransAM7 karma

Nothing to be defensive about sir! So how did the awesome combination of guns and donuts come from?

dbuzzzy20 karma

Guns have been here since before I was born. Doughnuts for about 2 years. The doughnuts are very popular regionally, so we jumped at the chance to get them in our store. Shifting the gun counter down was the fastest place to make room.

trennels6 karma

You really wanted the police to spend all their money there, didn't you?

dbuzzzy2 karma

Not just the police. Anyone is welcome to spend all their money with us.

Qoo66883 karma

Donut & Guns. This is such a cool combination. Man, I low key want to start a FFL as a hobby now. Too bad I live in California.

Do you need to have a special license to be able to put donuts and gun in close proximity? I don't think California would like that.

dbuzzzy4 karma

The proximity wasn’t an issue. The big thing is remembering to wash your hands before you handle doughnuts and rewatch them if you touch anything in between customers. I really don’t know how people get into selling firearms without a ton of capital to REALLY get into it. You might be able to do ok if you specializes in transfers for online sales.

Frylok11773 karma

Customers ever find shells in their donuts? lol

dbuzzzy18 karma

They aren’t made on site. They get delivered before the store opens. One time we found a small piece of a plastic glove in one doughnut. We sell hundreds a day though. It’s a good relationship with the bakery, so we can easily take care of a customer if anything is wrong with a doughnut.

Natenate252 karma

Do you have issues keeping people from getting frosting and oil all over the firearms they ask to handle?

dbuzzzy4 karma

Not generally, but that is definitely the direction the contamination runs. There is a hand wash station right next to the doughnuts that a customer could use too if they really needed to.

puddud42 karma

You say you threw your hat in the ring for selling doughnuts. What other things have you thrown your hat in the ring for?

dbuzzzy4 karma

Stihl power equipment. We lost that one though which honestly shocked me. We have a pretty robust small engine shop and I thought it was a natural fit. The distributor picked one of our competitors though.

Retiredandold2 karma

How does ACE work as a Co-op vs a franchisee and what made you decide to go with an ACE as your business choice?

dbuzzzy2 karma

I married into the family. It started as an fully independent hardware and became an Ace in 1965. The family bought it in 1969. My wife and I will be the third generation of the family to own it. We only own a small percentage today. We stick with Ace though because of the buying power and we utilize their advertising programs. It also doesn’t hurt the the national corporate officers are some pretty remarkable and inspiring people.

Sir_Wack2 karma

Has someone ever bought a doughnut and then shot it with one of your guns?

dbuzzzy2 karma

I think they like the doughnuts too much to do that.

dbuzzzy1 karma

Pretty much anyone can sell the doughnuts. They mostly need to know what prices for the types and to make sure they wash their hands. The doughnut folks usually start by helping with hunting and fishing licenses going the other way. Only a few folks can run the background checks.

OctobersCold0 karma

Can I ask why?

dbuzzzy2 karma

The gun business has been here since before I was even born. It’s a very small percentage of the business. The doughnuts were just too popular of a brand to pass up and that was the fastest place we could put the counter in.

Vannausen-1 karma

Why do you want to sell guns, a commodity that is used to hurt people and has no other use than that? Genuinely asking as a non American.

dbuzzzy9 karma

It’s a big area for hunting here. I’m probably not qualified to tell you definitely if there is a need for it. The deer have no natural predators to keep the population in check and people like eating them. Guns have been part of the business since before I was born. Their capacity to hurt innocent people is definitely something I think about a lot though. I like to think we do things the right way with background checks and even beyond that. The potential isn’t lost on me though.

cubanito37-13 karma

Did you ever think you’d be this trashy when you were younger? 🤡

dbuzzzy11 karma

I thought I was going to be a Ninja Turtle or Batman when I was younger. I’ve got too much nostalgia for them to suggest they are trashier than I am now.

Judgeromeo-30 karma

What country is this? What stops someone from paying for their stuff then just using the gun to rob their money back?

dbuzzzy38 karma

This is Midland, MI, USA. The guns are not loaded when they buy them, and armed robbery is also illegal.

dbuzzzy24 karma

It’s also a very low crime town.

Judgeromeo-11 karma

That's good. Here there are only perhaps 6 or so gun shops that I can think of, and they are more serious places than a drivers licensing dept. You can buy long barrel rifles or shotguns if you have the appropriate license right then, but you have to wait and have transport arranged to buy a handgun. I'm glad it's working for you in your area, but unless I know every customer I'd still be skeeved out a bit. Chock it up to cultural differences.

dbuzzzy28 karma

We run background checks for every sale. If someone is handling an unloaded gun irresponsibility while they are looking at it, we won’t sell to them. I like to think we are very responsible with our FFL (our firearms sales license.)

Dankstahps4-39 karma

Has anyone killed anyone with guns you sold? And if so or if it happens how can you live with yourself knowing you are an accomplice to murder

dbuzzzy23 karma

That’s a challenging question really. Luckily it hasn’t happened to my knowledge in the time that I have been here. I’m honestly not sure how I would cope with it mentally. I do think about that though.