For most college students, including myself, Friday nights are the best times to look forward to. On these nights, we are able to put aside our college stresses and get ready for the fun surprises the weekend holds. Some of these surprises could include spontaneously traveling to another state to see your best friends, partying, or using your free time to catch up on some verrrrrry much-needed sleep. For me, this Friday night included a delicious surprise! I discovered THE sweetaholic’s (someone who is obsessed with sweets) paradise here in our city of Wilmington called Kilwin’s Ice Cream, Chocolates, and Fudge!
Kilwin’s Ice Cream, Chocolates, and Fudge is a sweets shop located on 16 Market Street in Wilmington, NC. The business started in Petoskey, MI by founders Don and Katy Kilwin in 1947. Since then, Kilwin’s business has spread all across the U.S. with 120 stores opening in 23 states. Kilwin’s also has gained a reputation for selling high-quality chocolate, ice cream, and homemade waffle cones. According to Entrepreneurs Magazine, Kilwins was listed as #68 for their 2019 Franchise 500 Ranking for the amount of money they make. From my visit to Kilwin’s this Friday, I can understand why they are ranked so highly!
Upon approaching their Wilmington shop, there was a long line of hungry customers outside wanting a piece of chocolatey heaven. I, myself, was in line for about 30 mins for their ice cream, but the beautifully decorated place made the wait worthwhile. Through the store windows, I was able to see a worker hand making Kilwin’s delectable fudge by massaging and cutting them into huge, thick brown slices. On the other side, I saw another worker making homemade waffle cones by carefully taking them out of a machine and rolling them into their notable shape. Just by watching this and smelling the sweet rich aroma made my mouth begin to water.
Once I was finally able to enter the store, I felt like I was Charlie and that I had won the golden ticket to the Chocolate Factory! The store was decorated with their fancy logo and photos of different ice cream flavors. Along the aisle where the customers and I stood in line, there were stations filled with Kilwin’s wonderful sweets.
One that caught my eye was their station filled with their Sea-Salt Chocolate Bark and All Milk Sea-Salt Caramels.
Placing these sweets along the buying line was a great marketing strategy for Kilwin’s. It would let the customers gain more brand awareness as they were directly seeing the brand with the Kilwin’s logo along with the extra sweets they sold. By having the stations there, it encourages the most likely hungry customers into buying more things while they wait for their ice cream or fudge. Luckily, Kilwin’s couldn’t fool this IMC student. Aliyah: 1, Kilwin’s: 0!
Along with the sweet stations, towards the back of the store was the ice cream bar which I was waiting for. There were all kinds of flavors: Key Lime Pie, Georgia Peach, Fudgie Brownie, Cake Batter, and tons of others! Besides their endless selections of flavors, what also made their ice cream desirable was that they were made from Kilwin’s original recipe. Now, THIS I was dying to try!
In the end, I decided to get one of my all-time favorite flavors, Cookies and Cream, in a waffle cone bowl. With that delicious recipe, I was over-the-moon happy and had to take a picture of that moment.
Overall, I would say that Kilwin’s has definitely gained themselves a new customer and her name is Aliyah!
To learn more about Kilwin’s and their endless sweets, check out their website!
Also in the comments, let me know what you think about Kilwin’s, their ice cream, and their branding!
– Aliyah Harris
I discovered Kilwin’s my sophomore year of college and it arguably changed my life for better or for worse. The Kilwin’s employees have a Chic-Fil-A level of enthusiasm and the abundant amount of chocolatey options is incredibly tempting. I’ve only ever had their ice cream but next time I’m downtown, I will definitely venture out of my comfort zone to try something else.
Hey Aliyah! Great blog and even greater photoshop skills! I also am a newbie to Kilwins and LOVE it. It’s crazy to see such a long line at the door, but I totally get it now. That ice cream is so good! I’ve also had their caramel apples. It’s really smart to sell a variety of sweets because when summer comes to an end, they still have products that are good in the winter. A lot of ice cream shops close down in the offseason but Kilwins is able to stay open year-round. I also loved what you said about the atmosphere of the shop – that totally adds to the experience!
I LOVE this post! First, I am also a sweetaholic. Anything that’s sweet, I will eat it, which makes Kilwin’s one of my favorite places! Adding a multitude of pictures really enhances your post by allowing people who aren’t familiar with Kilwin’s to get an idea of what the atmosphere is like. Also for people like me who have been there before, the pictures caused me to begin to smell the inside of the business! Additionally, giving the readers just a short sample of their long list of unique flavors was a fantastic way of showing how special Kilwin’s really is.
Great advertising for Kilwin’s! Honestly, a great place to discover downtown but also a dangerous place to discover, so many sweets!
Kilwin’s is one of my absolute favorite places to grab any sweet treat! They have a lot of the same flavors as any other store, but they also have some really unique ones that you can’t find anywhere! My personal favorite is Banana Fudge Pie; it has pieces of pie crust along with chocolate and banana flavoring, ugh! My mouth is watering just thinking about it! There is a Kilwin’s where I live at home (Winston Salem) but nothing beats the Wilmington store, especially when you can walk by the river while eating it too! Great post!
Kilwins is an amazing Ice Cream shop. There is one back home where I’m from in Hendersonville. It is a lot smaller than the one here but the store is set up in a similar fashion. Customers are able to see the workers hand make most of their delicious treats such as fudge, caramel apples, or waffle cones. Having the workers make some of these delicacies behind the counter gives their brand a lot more transparency than other ice cream shops. The large spacee Kilwins has here allows them to advertise all the smaller treats they have such as the ones you listed above. They know they are going to have long lines especially in the summer. The wait will allows some of the patrons to take a look at those treats and maybe even buy some if a customer really needs to feed to their sweet tooth. Overall their ice cream is really good, and they way they brand within their store adds to their success.
Hi Aliyah! It seems like there is a large focus on atmosphere in the store, and that seems like it could be part of the store’s overall brand. There was a “willy wonka chocolate factory” vibe I got from your description, and it seems like the shop is designed in a way to evoke those parallels of that brand and draw it into theirs.
Wow Aliyah! I have actually never heard of Kilwin’s and I must find a time where I can go and visit. My mouth was genuinely watering as I read this, granted I was hungry already. Thank you for letting me know about a new place to visit in Wilmington that is so not well known. Well, at least I didn’t know about it!
This post just makes my mouth water about how much i love sweets. But this post is a very informative post about Kilwins and how amazing this hidden gem is all around. The atmosphere, to the sweets, to the great business it provides is all around great. Good post Aliyah!
Now you have me wanting something sweet because I also share in having a major sweet tooth! I think Kilwin’s has done a great job keep the classic feel in each of their locations. I think that not only their sweet treats but also their atmosphere are what drives their weekend lines of customers. I have also been to another location in Charleston and it has the same classic and older feel that matches with the historic town of Charleston and Wilmington. They keep on brand with the family feel and it seems to attract many nightly to enjoy their delicious sweets.
I haven’t heard about Kilwins! But after reading this article I feel the need to go there sometime, if not for the ice cream and sweets then for the atmosphere! Judging from everybody else’s comments they seem to have the same opinion you do!
As someone who really likes Kilwins, I completely concur. The way the snacks are organized make it extremely difficult to avoid buying something. Not to mention the distinctive and pleasant scent that the restaurant gives off. I did not know of Kilwin’s existence until I visited it and these observations were enough marketing for me to return.
Kilwins is so good! I agree it makes you feel like you could be in a chocolate factory when you walk in with the overload of smells and all the stands filled with candies everywhere. They definitely make it hard to just walk by to the ice cream and skip over it. Which is smart because it would probably usually be looked over.
Growing up I always knew about Kilwins because it was my dads favorite Ice Cream parlor. To my knowledge, the only store was in Myrtle Beach, SC, as that was the only one we would go to every summer. When I came to Wilmington I discovered there was a Kilwins location here as well as many others across the country. I always remembered the one growing up in Myrtle Beach to be such a fun environment. They had a lot of games for children to play and a fun selection of shirts. I think any brand that offers merchandise is a smart brand as they now have free advertisement everywhere that customer wears their merch, and they are making money off it the purchases too! I think Kilwins has done an excellent job at creating a fun, friendly environment in all the locations i have visited which is essential to a business in the food industry, especially an Ice Cream Place.
This is my first semester at UNCW, so I have never even heard of Kilwins. With that being said, after reading this article, I feel like I need to go there immediately. That place sounds like a great atmosphere, but that might be a good thing because i’ll probably end up being hooked on it after just one stop.
Kilwins is amazing, for me both them and Boombalatis are tied for the best ice cream in Wilmington! Kilwins has the best waffle cones as you mentioned in your article and Boombalatis makes an amazing milkshake. Honestly, you can really never go wrong with either of them! Kilwins has an awesome atmosphere! it is great to be able to enjoy your icecream by the river!
First, I gotta say I love the picture you edited, fantastic job! I really enjoyed reading your post, and I’m happy for you that you’ve stumbled Kilwin’s! It truly is a gem, a sweet one at that. That is interesting little marketing tactic, something I probably wouldn’t have even realized as a marketing tactic if it weren’t for IMC class! Placing an assortment of little snacks around the store that seem like the perfect size to go along with whatever else you may be buying is genius. Or even for someone who maybe has never been to Kilwin’s before, or just wants to stop in real quick, there they have easily accessible treats that you could grab to have on the go. All this talk of Kilwin’s makes me want to visit soon, I haven’t been in so long! Excellent post Aliyah, thank you for sharing your Kilwin’s experience! 🙂
I discovered Kilwin’s my freshman year of college at about 9:00 at night when my friends and I were craving something sweet and I was definitely not disappointed. I think it’s intentional that they make all of their products in front of their consumers. It promotes a brand image of authenticity because they allow us to see everything they put into and do to the products they sell. In my opinion, that aspect of their IMC is genius. I love Kilwin’s and the brand identity they’ve created and they will always have a loyal customer with me.
I really enjoyed reading this post! As someone who has yet to try Kilwin’s I think you have convinced me to check it out this weekend. I like the fun attitude portrayed in this article as well as the attention to the Kilwin’s marketing strategy.
I loved this article! I instantly clicked on it when I realized it was about Kilwins. I am from the local Wilmington area but actually never tried Kilwins until a few years ago. I went downtown to eat for my friends birthday and she showed me Kilwins. I have now been to many of the Kilwins locations in Raliegh, NC and Charleston, SC. Reading your article was entertaining and insightful. It made me think about the sweet smell that overwhelms you when you get in line to wait for your treat or the savory taste when you get your fudge, ice cream, etc. I loved seeing you mention the strong marketing they have. I’ve obviously always thought, “Wow, this company is doing something right!” every time I see or wait in the 30-minute line for my sweet treat.
Thanks for revealing a new perspective on one of my favorite spots in Wilmington!
Wilmington born and raised, I grew up on Kilwins. I LOVE it! They are definitely known around town for being delicious, homemade, having a wonderful smell, and having to wait in a super long line, haha! Their brand has definitely stayed pretty consistent over the years. It totally makes sense- because it’s working and they are incredibly successful! The aroma draws you in, clouds your thinking, you buy the homemade fudge while you wait and then BAM front of the line, which ice cream are you going to choose? They have perfected their strategies and while as a fellow IMC student I don’t plan on falling for it, many others fall right into the delicious trap! I mean, who can blame ’em?
Hey Aliyah! I have yet to visit Kilwins, but after reading your post I have to visit the store and get some sweets. It looks like an amazing candy wonderland! Good of you to not let the advertising sweets fool you into purchasing them. Stay strong for the next time you go!
I quite agree with you Aliyah Kilwins is one of the best shops in Wilmington. I don’t go a lot but when I do. I like to try a new flavor of ice-cream. The last time I went I tried fudge for the first time and it was quite a surprise from what I was expecting. I thought it would be to much chocolate and hard but when I took a bite the fudge was soft and melted in my mouth. The flavor was just enough. The line is usually very long but I think the wait is worth it and from the size of the line so do many others.
First of all, I love Kilwin’s and all things chocolate as well. I have been to their other locations before in other cities but I only went to their Wilmington location for the first time back in January. I think Kilwin’s is brilliant by putting their sweet treats right in front of you while you wait in line. Also the ability to see their employees make the fudge while you wait is also smart. I have been to other sweet shops before where they actually have fans that blow the smells of the store out onto the street so customers are drawn to the store and they smell it before they see it. It is interesting how drawn people are to sweet treats and Kilwin’s is definitely aware of this and they take full advantage.
When I saw the title of your post, I knew I was going to be fully engaged! Kilwins is one of my favorite sweet shops to go to besides Ghiradelli! A sugar- filled shop with all of their goodies on display lets’ sweet aroma fills the whole store! I even have been across the street from Kilwins and my feet carried me to store just from the overwhelming smell it brings! They really do market themselves well because I find myself purchasing fudge and candies while waiting in line for my yummy ice cream.
I actually tried Kilwins for for the first time last week. I loved it! I had chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and it was such a good recipe, I enjoyed it a lot. You are making me wish I got a waffle bowl though! From friends that have encouraged me to go there, they normally describe it as “the really good ice-cream place downtown that also sells fudge”. I have heard that from multiple people, but it is interesting to know other perspectives too and how others tell a different “story” of Kilwins. Overall, I love your post and I am glad you like the place as much as I did!
I totally agree that Friday nights is something to look forward to. The weekend is the most enjoyable part of the week. Throughout the couple of years that I have lived in Wilmington there have been numerous people that raved about Kilwins ice cream. I decided to give it a try for myself because it was regarded as the highest quality ice cream available. Every time that I have been there it was a hot summer day and the line was out the door. After trying a few different flavors I still was definitely loyal to Cold Stone. The one thing about these types of places is that they are very expensive for the quantity of cream you are getting. Hey small size cup at Kilwin’s is over three dollars and for the same price you can get a tub of ice cream at your local grocery store. I can vouch for the idea that kilwin’s wins is good ice cream but I personally think that I’m better off going to the market. I was pleased that they also provide a lot of alternatives that are not avaible at most ice cream shops.
I cannot recommend Kilwins enough! Being from Wilmington, I have been visiting the downtown Wilmington location since I was a kid. Walking by is almost as good as going in…tbh. Highly recommend the superman ice cream…it’s the rainbow colored one!
When I moved to Wilmington from Florida I was very happy to see that we had a Kilwins here as well! They have so many great options for everyone. I personally enjoy their chocolate sorbet and fudge. This place is a great attribute to Wilmington.
I love how they market themselves and present themselves as this really fun, chocolate and sweets loving place. They do a good job of displaying their products so its hard to walk out empty handed. What gets most people is the smell of the sweets and treats being made right in front of them.
I loved the way she described their brand because I love Kilwins and I have had the same experience there as well. I think that this customer branding is very effective in trying to “sell” a product (Kilwins) to people. I love this article and analysis and completely agree!
I love Kilwins! From someone who worked at a candy story for years, I think this is a great place for tourists to come and enjoy sweets before they walk around downtown or the boardwalk. I also love the classic feel of this store as it takes some of the customers back to when they were kids!
I love Kilwins! My family used to go there every summer when we would visit Hilton Head Island in SC, then we luckily got one across the lake from where we live in NC! The lines are always super long but looking at all of the little treats does make it more easy to wait,,,,plus it SMELLS SO GOOD!! I love their ice cream, and I think they have a great marketing strategy as well. Next you should visit Boombalattis!
I love Kilwins and have been going with my family since I was a little kid! This post is an informative post about Kilwins and just how great it is. The atmosphere is great, the food is “sweet” and the staff is always friendly. Great post!