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Byrd’s House of Donuts: Come In! We’re Open!

For 25 years, Thomas Byrd, Sr (Tommy) dedicated his professional life to the woodworking industry. But, in 2016, he traded his day job managing dimension mills, cabinet and molding factories, for a new passion. Tommy, along with his son and co-owner Thomas Byrd, Jr, opened Byrd’s House of Donuts in Elkins. 

“Thomas had some prior experience in fast food management, but neither of us had ever made a donut before opening the shop,” Tommy said. 

But the lack of hands-on experience didn’t slow them down. The original plan was for the father and son team to make donuts during the evening. Then Thomas, who had prior experience in fast food management, would sell them the next morning. 

Byrd’s House of Donuts is a family-run business. 

“We started it together. We’re equal partners in the business and both equally responsible for its failures and/or successes. Also, my daughter, Sherrie Carbajal, helped us get things set up and ran our Facebook page and website for the first year until I had time to take it over,” said Tommy.

The first several months they worked 18 – 19 hours per day, seven days a week until they finally were able to hire some help. 

Their reputation and business grew so quickly that Tommy had to quit his regular job after just a few months. The next year, they moved into town and continued expanding. Eventually, they purchased the building they had been renting and now have a staff of seven full-time employees. 

Donuts aren’t the only confections on the menu. The father-and-son team also creates custom cakes for weddings, birthdays and special occasions. Their display cases are full of homemade pies, cookies, candies, pastries and sweet rolls. And everything is made from scratch — not a box mix in sight. 

Their menu also features breakfast and lunch options. Customers can choose from breakfast sandwiches, hot or cold sandwiches for lunch, or an all-beef hotdog with homemade chili. They also offer their award-winning pepperoni rolls. 

The Byrds are also focused on giving back to their community. After their first year in business, they started doing fundraisers with the local schools and other local organizations. This effort has grown tremendously and has expanded to the surrounding counties. 

“One of the things we’re very proud of as a small business is that we’ve taken over almost all of the fundraisers that Krispy Kreme was doing with all the local organizations,” Tommy said. 

However, like many small West Virginia businesses, Byrd’s House of Donuts experienced a lag in sales during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“When things were slow during the pandemic we had lots of customers that came in to check on us to make sure we were getting enough business to keep going. Some of them would come in for a couple of donuts for themselves and buy a dozen to give away just to make sure we were making sales,” Tommy said.

After business began to pick back up again, the Byrds struggled to hire new employees. But, Tommy, Thomas and their staff were able to keep things running smoothly.

“There were essentially three things we did to combat our labor issue. First, Thomas and I worked a lot of extra hours without days off. Second, we ended up shutting down one day per week. Last, but definitely not least, we have a really good group of core employees who were more than willing to jump in and help until we could find more employees,” Tommy noted. 

The West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WV SBDC) has assisted Byrd’s House of Donuts since 2019. The Byrds have taken advantage of the SBDC’s seminars, workshops and other services as they continue to grow their business.

“I would love to spread Byrd’s House of Donuts all over WV. If we accomplish that, who knows,” Tommy said.

Staff from Davis & Elkins College brought the WV SBDC “Come In, We’re Open” campaign to Tommy’s attention. The campaign encourages small business owners to showcase that they are open and ready for West Virginians to show them support. To participate, small business owners can download, print or pick up a “Come In, We’re Open” sign and hang it somewhere visible in their storefronts.

“There’s nothing like owning a small business in a small town and WV is essentially one really spread-out small town,” Tommy noted. “Small businesses give people places they WANT to go. Megastores and chain stores are places people HAVE to go. Regardless of your opinion, just about everybody HAS to go to Walmart eventually, even if it ruins the rest of your day. But they stop by my shop because they WANT to and because it makes their day a little better.”

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