This month, WCNC highlighted the inspiring story behind a Mooresville doughnut shop, Down for Doughnuts. Started by Mooresville locals, David and Lisa Cooper, the shop was opened in 2020 in order to provide employment for individuals with disabilities, including their son Zachary, who has Down syndrome.
David and Lisa give Zach all the credit for coming up with the idea for the business. The family was brainstorming at the dinner table one night, when suddenly he declared: “I want a doughnut shop.” From then on, David and Lisa began figuring out how to make Zach’s dream a reality. They chose the name as a way to capture their creative spirit and business model, and after months of planning, Down for Doughnuts opened its doors for the very first time on March 21, 2020 – World Down Syndrome Day. David said that the date was “a coincidence, but a happy coincidence.”
At that time, things were looking up for Down for Doughnuts, but a week after opening, the pandemic hit, sending the nation into full lockdown mode. However, instead of getting discouraged, the Coopers adapted their business model, making the shop a walk-up window and offering individually wrapped doughnuts. What could have spelled disaster for the fledgling business worked in their favor; the stress of the pandemic brought them many customers hankering for the comfort of doughnuts, says David:
“It worked really well because I think comfort food got a lot of people through the pandemic.”
Today, Down for Doughnuts offers a variety of freshly handmade cake and yeast doughnuts, with flavors rotating each day of the week. It also sells other pastries such as cinnamon rolls and apple fritters, as well as coffee from Haerfest Coffee Roasting Co., another small business that also hires individuals with disabilities. Zach Cooper works at the shop every day, along with ten other employees. To better serve their customers, the Coopers are currently experimenting with recipes for a new gluten-free line, which they aim to release later this year.