A woman wearing a grey shirt reading, “The Warm Cookie”, adorned with a smile, poses with her hand on her hip. She stands in front of a wooden cut-out of Cookie Monster and a wall decal that also reads, “The Warm Cookie”.
Sharice Kucera of Lincoln is owner of The Warm Cookie, which is among the seven businesses in Lincoln that specialize in cookies. She says she's not worried about competition and that there is room for everyone. "The more desserts, the better.” Photo by Bailey Herrera/Nebraska News Service

With seven companies in Lincoln specializing only in cookies, the Capital City is on par with the national cookie craze. And with a popular chain coming to town, it’s about to get crazier.

But local cookie shop owners say they aren’t afraid of any competition.

The newest cookie store to Lincoln — Crumbl Cookies — will open the week of March 6 and will be the third Nebraska location for the chain, according to a customer assist specialist on the company’s website. This will be the first time Lincoln consumers can get their hands on the infamous gourmet cookies, which are raved about on social media.

The national cookie market was worth over $11 million in 2021 and is only expected to grow over the next several years, according to ReportLinker

Stacy Tamerius, owner of Sunflower House Cookies, a business she started in 2020 and has run from her home, attributes the cookie’s national popularity to the versatility that they offer. 

“Who doesn’t like a cookie?” Tamerius asked. “I mean, there are so many different flavors and options you can do with a cookie. Everybody has time for a cookie or room for it. And they’re great for gifts too, if you don’t necessarily want to bring somebody a cake, a box of cookies, that’s a nice gift.”

Even with a new competitor in town, Tamerius will grow her own business by moving from her home kitchen to a commercial one, she said. 

Despite Crumbl Cookies wild success, opening over 400 locations in six years, shop owners like Sharice Kucera, owner of The Warm Cookie, are not fearful of losing business to the national giant. 

“None of us are upset when a new cookie place comes to town,” Kucera said. “We are dessert aficionados, and I think there’s room for everybody. The more desserts, the better.”

Kucera said her confidence doesn’t waver when it comes to local competition either. Even with so many locally owned shops, she said that all of them are different and often finds herself sending customers to other places when The Warm Cookie isn’t fulfilling their needs. 

“The Cookie Company, they’re local and they’ve been around forever,” Kucera said. “If you want good tasty cookies and it’s not us, that’s who you’re going to. If you want affordable cookies, Eileen’s Colossal Cookies is great. I love frosting on a cookie. They’re awesome. If you want beautiful cookies, like art on a cookie, 3 Sons Bakery is unreal. We’re super down for recommending other places if we’re not fitting the niche for somebody.”

According to Tony Harman, the current owner of Eileen’s Colossal Cookies, the community support for locally owned businesses holds true across the state. His mom started Eileen’s Colossal Cookies in Hastings in 1982 and 40 years later, Harman said customers are still coming back. 

“It’s fun to talk to people that will tell you that when they grew up as kids, they had a big decorated cookie cake for their birthdays, and now they do the same with their own kids,” Harman said. “So it’s kind of neat to see that they’re still loyal customers, still love our products and love what we do.”

As for Crumbl Cookies, Kucera says that their marketing and branding are what drive the company’s success. 

“Their Instagram is perfect,” Kucera said. “I’ve had the cookies and like, they’re good, but I think the hype is even better. And they’re consistent, they put their flavors up every single week. It’s a really big thing for people to rate it on Instagram and TikTok. They have found their niche.”

Even though Kucera said she’ll be in line for a Crumbl cookie when it opens, she argues the experience at her local shop is very different and more personable than that of the national competitors. 

“A lot of the places that you’ll find now are really like fun, wild, crazy flavored cookies,” Kucera said. “Ours are really … like what your grandma made. Those are what we sell. So they’re warm, fresh from the oven, and they give you that at-home feeling. Like a hug.”

At the end of the day, Tamerius is sure that even when people are able to get their hands on Crumbl’s picture-perfect cookies, nothing will beat the community’s shop-local mentality.

“Lincoln is really good about being mindful about choosing local when they can,” Tamerius said.  “Those big stores are always going to get the hype and they do really great branding. I know that people will shop there. I hope people will keep shopping local and I know they will.”

Bailey is a senior journalism major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with minors in film studies and sociology. She has a passion for telling stories through all mediums. Currently, she works as a social media and graphic design intern at University Career Services. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a full-time role as a social media manager.