The Johnson’s Corner Cinnamon Roll Story

The Johnson’s Corner cinnamon roll business began in the early 1950s by an employee baking cinnamon rolls at home and bringing them in to sell. Never under estimate ideas that come from different sources! Our customers fell in love with these cinnamon rolls and they became a staple on our menu.

Interest in our cinnamon rolls continued to grow, so as part of a remodel project in the 60s, we added a bakery to the Johnson’s Corner kitchen. We were able to maintain the quality, size, and consistency of the originals, but bake them on a bigger scale.

In 1998, we were fortunate enough to be featured in an article on the Best Breakfasts in the World in Travel and Leisure Magazine. Based on the excitement generated by the article and the demand for our now “World Famous” cinnamon rolls, we made the decision to start offering our rolls to area businesses that requested them.

Beginning in 2002, a small, regional convenience store distributor worked with us to develop a cinnamon roll for their stores. Packaging, labeling, holding, distribution methods, and pricing structures all were laid out. We achieved modest success with this distributor and several restaurant food service distributors. This prompted the necessity to move the bakery operation to a separate facility to ramp up production.

We worked diligently to increase the exposure of our cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon roll donations to area fundraisers, schools, and events helped raise awareness. We also started to expand our self-distribution by capitalizing on the ever-increasing number of local coffee shops. This, coupled with picking up several local convenience store accounts, set us up for our next level of expansion.

We made an important tactical decision not to go after the huge box store chains to keep our growth at a more manageable level. Instead, we leveraged our newly acquired convenience store and coffee shop business into an opportunity to get our foot in the door with other convenience store distributors. We offered not only a new cinnamon roll product for them to consider, but also an initial customer base for them to expand on.

With a broker, we expanded our presence into several local and national convenience store distributors. Soon we realized that the convenience store operation was our niche. While the restaurant distributors’ usage stagnated, the convenience store business expanded greatly. Interest from local divisions of two large chains, 7-Eleven and Walgreens, in purchasing cinnamon rolls for their stores in Colorado prompted the decision to expand our bakery. We built new freezer storage capacity and invested in more labor-efficient baking equipment.

In early 2010, we made the decision to move away from our relationship with a broker and brought in an in-house sales person to ensure focus and consistency. Since then, we have expanded our cinnamon rolls into more markets; currently, we have our cinnamon rolls in eight states and seven convenience store distribution companies. We produce more than 15,000 cinnamon rolls a month just for these distributors, plus our in-house and local self-distribution channels.

We launched Internet sales late in 2010, which allow customers to order our cinnamon rolls to be shipped anywhere in the continental United States. Soon we will expand our Internet offerings to include other cinnamon roll flavors, as well as other branded merchandise such as coffee mugs, apparel, hot sauces and more. With the use of Internet sales and social media networks like Facebook and Twitter to network our product lines and stories to the web, the opportunity for us to continue our cinnamon roll story is limitless.

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