Alumni's Kilwin's Shop Observes First Anniversary @ The Greene
Three Generations of Family Members Working at Sweet Shop
September 12, 2013
Terry Hoggatt selects delectable chocolates known as “tuttles” (a.k.a. Turtles) from the counter at her Kilwin’s franchise at The Greene in Beavercreek.
Terry Mahlerwein Hoggatt '83 is amazed at the number of times customers comment, “You place smells like my vacation.”
Science has determined that humans’ sense of smell is thousands of times more sensitive than any other of our senses and the brain’s recognition of smell is immediate.
So, it’s no wonder that numerous persons have made the connection between Kilwin’s chocolate and ice cream shop at The Greene shopping mall in Beavercreek and the nearly 80 sites at which the franchise is located at a resort or in a vacation town.
It’s also no wonder that Terry Hoggatt’s husband, Mike Hoggatt '82, aims the business’ exhaust fans toward the sidewalk and street, where the sweet smell of confections wafts through the upscale shopping center, enticing olfactory-induced memories of vacations past and recruiting new fans of Kilwin’s 36 flavors of ice cream, fine chocolates and the Hoggatts’ homemade Mackinac Island-style fudge and caramel treats.
Vacations are the stuff of memories and Kilwin’s is in the business of helping customers create new memories through the shared experience of enjoying sweet treats.
Consider the mother that brought in her three children to celebrate their successful swim tests with ice cream, the love-struck young man that traveled many miles to purchase a caramel apple for his girlfriend and the couple that held their engagement party surrounded by waffle cones, truffles, orange peel chocolates and floats, shakes and sodas.
(LEFT) Three generations of the family work at Kilwin’s, including, from the left, Delmar Mahlerwein and Brent, Terry and Mike Hoggatt.
“It’s a fun place to be,” Terry Hoggatt said.
While they opened their shop at The Greene September 14, 2012, Kilwin’s has been, as the company proclaims, “a celebrated part of Americana” for seven decades. It was established in Petoskey, Mich., in 1947. Kilwin’s initially became popular in many of Michigan’s summer vacation towns on the Great Lakes and expanded into a booming business throughout Florida. Today, stores can be found — and the sweet tooth of many sated — from Colorado to New Hampshire.
Kilwin’s at The Greene is Ohio’s first.
While Mike Hoggatt is employed fulltime with Toyota in Kentucky, Terry Hoggatt and her father, Delmar Mahlerwein ’58, were considering a joint business venture when Kilwin’s came into the picture.
The mother of five sons, she taught preschool for a number of years and was “looking for something different.”
Delmar retired from a career in public education in 1988 and spent 11 years as superintendent of the Nike Center in Wilmington. Delmar went on to run a Payday Loans business for seven years but, now retired, he “got bored staying home.”
They have relatives in Petoskey that introduced them to Kilwin’s. Mahlerwein was impressed with its business model but attempts to find a traditional resort location in southwest Ohio proved problematic when faced with no-competition clauses, lease prices and driving distances from their homes in Wilmington.
“People said, ‘We can get Kilwin’s on vacation but can’t when we get home,’” Terry Hoggatt said, adding that considering The Greene for the store location soon became an appealing prospect.
They conducted traffic surveys at the popular mall and, when considering the upscale nature of the massive shopping complex and the large number of nearby restaurants (think dessert), Kilwin’s franchising management also saw great potential in them locating there.
“We realize we have to make it on the service we give and the quality of our product,” Mahlerwein said, noting it’s one thing to sell ice cream at a Kilwin’s in a vacation town all summer and another to do so year-round in Beavercreek, Ohio.
Making good first impressions and gaining repeat customers are essential to success in food service.
They offer complimentary tastes of fudge and ice cream to those entering the store — all wrapped in greeters’ sincere smiles, views of employees making specialty treats, brightly colored furnishings and, oh yes, that tempting aroma enticing the customer to splurge on all things chocolate and sugar.
In addition to in-store sales to shoppers, Kilwin’s caters birthday, graduation and engagement parties, as well as producing party trays, corporate gifts and wedding favors (they monogrammed 150 S-Mores).
Terry Hoggatt runs the day-to-day operation and employs 14 mostly part-time workers, including some of their sons.
“My dad’s good for about two hours in a supervisory capacity,” Terry Hoggatt added, noting that, often, three generations of her family are working together. “It’s Dad’s dream — he’s always wanted to own a shop, and he loves chocolate!”
(LEFT) Mike Hoggatt offers samples from their 36 flavors of ice cream.
Mahlerwein admitted, “Terry and Mike do most of the work. I’m mainly a go-for.”
Mike Hoggatt often shows up in the evening and weekends.
“It’s a lot of fun for me, especially on Saturday when we can work together,” he said. “For me, it’s play. The candy business is fun business.”
Surrounded by chocolate and ice cream, Mike Hoggatt shared the “real treat” for him is the stories customers share, whether it’s about vacations involving Kilwin’s, the childhood memories of ice cream on family outings, or even the confectionary challenges faced in their kitchens.
“A lady came in and told her story about making fudge at Christmas. It wouldn’t set up,” Mike Hoggatt said, noting the story emanated from her being mesmerized at the sight of a tray of perfect fudge in their display case. “They ate it anyway and, that Christmas, they had chocolate soup.
“For us, the best part is the people — they’re so fascinating.”
The “people” have made Salted Caramel their top selling ice cream. Another popular flavor is Cinnamon Crumb Cake, “the ice cream you can eat for breakfast,” Terry Hoggatt joked.
They declared Kilwin’s initial year a success and especially enjoyed the recent, late arriving, 90-plus temperatures— prime time ice cream season.
“We have the same people come in week after week,” Terry Hoggatt said about their success at developing a loyal clientele. “Also, a lot of people just wander into the shop. Many of them have been on vacation in Florida or Michigan and recognize the store name. People walk and say, ‘It smells like vacation.’”
That’s music to their ears.
NOTE: Mike Hoggatt and Terry Mahlerwein met in high school in Blanchester and both enrolled at Wilmington College, where he majored in industrial supervision and she in education. He was the first student in the College’s co-op program at Cincinnati Milicron. Her great uncle was WC’s 15th president, Robert Lucas. Mike and Terry Hoggatt are members of WC’s classes of 1982 and ’83, respectively.
“When visiting the College as a high school student, it impressed me that people looked you in the eye and said ‘hello,’” she said.
“Being from a small town, Wilmington College’s diversity was an eye-opener,” Mike Hoggatt said, noting that his circle of friends included African-Americans and a student from the Middle East. “Wilmington College for me was the first time when you could hear the other side of issues — that was important for me, especially because it planted seeds for later in life.”