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The Donut Man Cometh…

A brief synopsis…

After spending 20 years in Atlanta in real estate development, making a bunch of cash then losing it all in 2007, we decided this was an excellent opportunity to ‘adapt’ our lifestyle to how we really wanted to live. We want to work to live not live to work! Shockingly, my wife actually wanted me to be a part of our children’s lives as they grew up instead of being the 60-80 hour/week workaholic and while cash is nice- time is fleeting and it’s a big wonderful world out there waiting to be explored!

Our daughter, Emma James, was born right as I was finishing developing a 12 unit loft project in downtown (and I mean downtown!) Atlanta and I saw the writing on the wall economically. Since then we moved onto our 33′ CSY sailboat and sailed down to Key West from St. Simons, Georgia where we vacation rented a family home on the island.

After spending four wonderfully blissful and sometimes terrifying months on our boat, we found out my wife, Hil, was pregnant with our second child in Key West! We decided we really enjoyed the time with the family and the lifestyle of living on a sailboat but we needed a bigger boat to fit the new larger crew of four. We sold the monohull in short order and found a 1993 Gemini 3200 catamaran in San Carlos, Mexico! We initially thought we would ship the boat back to the Georgia coast, but while inspecting the boat for purchase we were overwhelmed with the beauty of the Sea of Cortez and decided instead of moving the boat we would move the people to the boat!

We always dreamed of living in a foreign country and learning another language!

The only problem- It’s just too darn hot to stay on the boat during the summer in San Carlos and then there’s that perpetual pesky problem of making money.

Driving back to St. Simons from Mexico we decided it was a worthwhile lifestyle to pursue and we started investigating how we could live for 6 months on the boat and work 6 months in cooler climates the rest of the year.

Then we found the donut machine! We had been toying with the idea of food concessions at fairs and festivals. By nature we are gypsies and like to be mobile and it’s a cash business- which is always a plus! After the remodeling work started to drift away as pocketbooks tightened, we resolved to DO SOMETHING, even if it’s wrong (as my father likes to say).

I believe nature (god, spirits, buddha- you fill in the blank) abhor’s a vacuum and rewards action. After sitting on my hands for three weeks waiting for work to start that never materialized, my infinitely patient, beautiful, understanding, and wise wife suggested we move forward with the food concession business.

After mulling over options we like the donut machine because it was unique, used a powder/water mix that had very low spoilage, the booth could be operated solo, and it was fairly small making it possible for us to load everything and the family unit into our beast of a 1999 GMC Suburban 4×4 6.5l turbo diesel assault vehicle.

We found one in Georgia not too far from where I was doing some light remodeling for a friend and despite all logical, rational, prudent, and wise decision- we once again went into family hock to buy the machine.

I promptly lucked out and booked an event at the ‘Shady Days in Gay, Georgia’ last weekend on the 2nd and 3rd of October (2009) and for our first event and a trial by fire it went surprisingly well!

Conceptually, the goal is to work 6 months a year (24 weekends plus or minus) and make a profit of $24,000 by the end of that time. We would travel from show to show starting in May and ending in October spending the winter on the boat in Mexico. That means we would need to generate of profit of $1,000 per weekend and book a show every weekend.

I’m pleased to announce we came awfully close to our objective on our first show and believe me, there is a lot of room for improvement on the operator side of the mini-donut business! I booked another show this coming weekend (10/9-10/10) in Covington, Ga. called the “Sherman Fall Family Festival and BBQ Cook Off” so we can try to replicate or improve last weeks performance.

We are also starting to map out a possible route for next year. Part of the advantage of the festival business is the mobility. We have family in Virginia, Florida, New England, Arizona, and friends in Mississippi, New Mexico, Wyoming, Georgia, and California. So it’s possible for us to actually map out a travel plan to spend time with our family and friends while working events.

We think for the first couple of years we’ll have to work 8 months and spend 4 months on the boat- but hey! It sure beats 2 weeks paid vacation and 50 weeks in an office with a tie!

A final thought- yes! It can be done! What can be done? You can design your own lifestyle. It won’t be easy. It will require you to be adaptive, creative, flexible, diligent, and most importantly patient- but it can be done.

Is the donut business a guarantee? Not in any shape or form. But it is a start and we can adapt, overcome, and improvise along the way.

After all, this is the only life you get.

You know an ICE COLD draft beer in Mexico is a very affordable price of approximately $1.25! Click Here to Buy Us a Beer.

8 comments to The Donut Man Cometh…

  • Your story is fantastic, JC. Very inspiring stuff!

    Thanks for sharing.

  • big cheese

    Thank You. Really we feel like we’re just pressing on one day at a time into the unknown (for us). When one things doesn’t pan out we try something else.

    Ironically, while our ultimate goal is to work to live not live to work- that in itself is hard work! Obviously once you find something that works for you, things get easier.

    Thanks for reading.


  • Hey Donut Man, congratulations! Glad you found something you can sink your teeth in to, dust with sugar or chocolate, and make some cash with. If I can talk Amber in to making the drive out there, I’ll bring the fam (our girl Scarlett was born Sep. 19) and support the cause.

  • Tim Anders

    Keep following your dream. It inspires others to evaluate their own goals and plans. The donut machine sounds great. I have had those little donuts and unfortunately (for my body)they taste great and are addicting! Wish I was going to be at one of your upcoming festivals to try them once again!

  • Davina and Matt

    The first thing our kids would ask is do you sell sprinkled donuts??? Best wishes with the plan!

  • big cheese

    Yes! I have been sinking my teeth into quite a few donuts lately! Still, nothing beats a fresh, hot cinnamon sugar mini-donut with a hot cup of strong coffee!

    But it may kill my sweet tooth (hopefully) or else I may start to look like a donut!

  • big cheese

    Thanks for support. Once we get some kind of ‘tour’ schedule booked, I’ll post it. It would be great to meet some of the folks who visit the site!

  • big cheese

    I have to admit, so far it has been fun! The people are wonderful. In many ways they have a similar ‘cruising’ spirit- just on land. When asked where we live and fumbled through my explanation- everyone was supportive and excited, which is a change from many responses we get from more anchored friends.