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Join the Club: 5 Shops Making Membership Sweet

If the term “club” conjures images of middle school cliques or gym rats, think again. Today, brands use membership models to forge deep, long-lasting relationships with customers based on trust and loyalty. And, of course, deliciousness. Many food and beverage businesses leaning into the club model are bakeries, chocolate shops, ice cream shops, and confectioneries, which send members their favorite sweets on repeat.

When someone joins a club—in this case, buying ongoing access to a product—they show commitment to a single brand. In turn, companies enjoy more predictable revenue streams, direct relationships with their customers (no middlemen), and more opportunities to engage customers with new products. That means when a new flavor is ready for the market, there’s a club of fans ready and eager to give it a try. 

Photo by Jeswin Thomas

Here are five clubs that will satisfy every sweet tooth. 

Vosges

Vosges’ bars and truffles are celebrated for artisan craftsmanship and unexpected flavors: fermented black tea, ginger, paprika, and edible flowers, to name a few. Customers may opt in to three tiers of club membership—three, six, or 12 months—each filled with both bestselling and new collections. The 13 Moon Chocolate Lunar Club arrives on members’ doorsteps each new moon, offering a tasting experience tailored to that moon cycle (crystals included).

Jeni’s

This ice cream company started small in Columbus, Ohio, and quickly swept the nation, with dozens of scoop shops and placement in grocery stores across the country. Jeni’s devotees (and there are plenty) can join the pint club on a three, six, or 12-month schedule. Every month, members receive a curated selection of four flavors (often before they’re available for sale) delivered to their doorstep. 

Samuel’s Sweet Shop

Samuel’s opened in upstate New York in 1994, and when the owner passed away in 2014, three local families who knew and loved him bought it so that the business could stay alive. (Fun fact: two of the buyers were actors Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Paul Rudd.) Instead of tiers, their club offers a monthly subscription with samplers such as Nuts About You and Cookies ‘n Dreams. 

Cheryl’s Cookies

This cookie delivery site is an ecommerce giant, belonging to the same family of brands as 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Harry & David, and more. Beyond making it easy to ship cookies to anyone, anywhere in the U.S., for any occasion, Cheryl’s also has clubs: the Buttercream Frosted Cookie Club, Sugar Free Cookie Club, or Gourmet Brownie Club. And lots more. Members can pay as they go, six or 12 times per year.

Salt & Straw

This cousin-founded shop makes ice cream by hand with top-notch ingredients and has locations from Portland to Miami, plus an online shop. Like Jeni’s, Salt & Straw also offers a pint club. In addition to three, six, and 12-month subscriptions, there’s a club with seasonal flavors (strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper, anyone?) and another with vegan flavors for the dairy-free set. 


Join the Club: 5 Shops Making Membership Sweet

Join the Club: 5 Shops Making Membership Sweet
by
Olivia Terenzio
by
Jessica Buckley
by
Ashley Rodriguez
March 25, 2020

If the term “club” conjures images of middle school cliques or gym rats, think again. Today, brands use membership models to forge deep, long-lasting relationships with customers based on trust and loyalty. And, of course, deliciousness. Many food and beverage businesses leaning into the club model are bakeries, chocolate shops, ice cream shops, and confectioneries, which send members their favorite sweets on repeat.

When someone joins a club—in this case, buying ongoing access to a product—they show commitment to a single brand. In turn, companies enjoy more predictable revenue streams, direct relationships with their customers (no middlemen), and more opportunities to engage customers with new products. That means when a new flavor is ready for the market, there’s a club of fans ready and eager to give it a try. 

Photo by Jeswin Thomas

Here are five clubs that will satisfy every sweet tooth. 

Vosges

Vosges’ bars and truffles are celebrated for artisan craftsmanship and unexpected flavors: fermented black tea, ginger, paprika, and edible flowers, to name a few. Customers may opt in to three tiers of club membership—three, six, or 12 months—each filled with both bestselling and new collections. The 13 Moon Chocolate Lunar Club arrives on members’ doorsteps each new moon, offering a tasting experience tailored to that moon cycle (crystals included).

Jeni’s

This ice cream company started small in Columbus, Ohio, and quickly swept the nation, with dozens of scoop shops and placement in grocery stores across the country. Jeni’s devotees (and there are plenty) can join the pint club on a three, six, or 12-month schedule. Every month, members receive a curated selection of four flavors (often before they’re available for sale) delivered to their doorstep. 

Samuel’s Sweet Shop

Samuel’s opened in upstate New York in 1994, and when the owner passed away in 2014, three local families who knew and loved him bought it so that the business could stay alive. (Fun fact: two of the buyers were actors Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Paul Rudd.) Instead of tiers, their club offers a monthly subscription with samplers such as Nuts About You and Cookies ‘n Dreams. 

Cheryl’s Cookies

This cookie delivery site is an ecommerce giant, belonging to the same family of brands as 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Harry & David, and more. Beyond making it easy to ship cookies to anyone, anywhere in the U.S., for any occasion, Cheryl’s also has clubs: the Buttercream Frosted Cookie Club, Sugar Free Cookie Club, or Gourmet Brownie Club. And lots more. Members can pay as they go, six or 12 times per year.

Salt & Straw

This cousin-founded shop makes ice cream by hand with top-notch ingredients and has locations from Portland to Miami, plus an online shop. Like Jeni’s, Salt & Straw also offers a pint club. In addition to three, six, and 12-month subscriptions, there’s a club with seasonal flavors (strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper, anyone?) and another with vegan flavors for the dairy-free set. 


Olivia Terenzio

About the author

Jessica Buckley

About the author

Ashley Rodriguez

About the author

Ashley is a freelance writer and podcast producer based in Madison, Wisconsin. She hosts a podcast called Boss Barista and writes an accompanying newsletter with full transcripts of each episode and articles about coffee and restaurant work. You can check out her work here (ashleyrodriguez.work/).

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