Hot, hazy and humid – not the overabundance of rain we’ve already had, please and thank you – would be welcomed by many fans of real summer weather. You can probably put Elmira’s Andrew Brubacher at the top of that list, as he prepares to launch his summer ice cream business. He is yet another recruit for the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre’s Summer Company program.Having won approval last month from Woolwich council to ply his trade in Elmira, Brubacher is embarking on the creation of Ice Cream! Ice Cream! Ice Cream!, a seasonal ice cream vending business set to get going this month.
“I always kind of liked the food vending idea, so ice cream is an easy way to get into it,” he said this week of his new business.
Brubacher thought of starting his own venture after seeing Cupcakes! Cupcakes! Cupcakes!, another Summer Company program at the St. Jacobs Farmers Market and the brainchild of young entrepreneur Tiia Planert.
Along with the paperwork, a delegation at the township, permits and setting up bank accounts, getting the business rolling is going to require some legwork for the Conestoga College business undergrad. He enlisted the help of his father and brother to fix up a bike-powered ice cream cart. With two wheels at the front to support a a refrigerated ed cart and one at the back, the apparatus was hard to find.
“That’s kind of what we’re working on right now, to get it going.”
The upside of the lucky find is that it’s light on the budget – the program gives business owners $1,500 to start with – but proper pedals, brakes, gears and freezer functions need to be fixed before the cart is road-ready. After the restoration process is done, he hopes for a gleaming vehicle complete with colourful airbrush signage, an umbrella and tinkling music to herald the coming of tasty treats.
“This is kind of just more experience for me going into the future. I thought it would be a good idea to see how running your own business is. I saw a lot of shows on TV of people who have different food trucks – I always liked that kind of idea of a mobile vending business. I always like to try new food and recognize stuff that people put spins on,” he said.
Though it’s his first go at a business of his own, Brubacher isn’t flying blind: he has seen the benefits of the Summer Company program through a friend’s experience with a mobile repair business.
“He did it last year in Hamilton and he just kept going this year; it’s doing really well,” Brubacher said, noting he hopes to continue in the ice cream trade if business is good this summer.
As a business model the project is partly a question of proper marketing and gauging some simple consumer demographics.
With a muggy summer in the forecast, does he dread the armies of hungry kids or the possibility of cranky parents arguing his prices?
“I’m kind of nervous about the amount of customers; you don’t know how it’s going to go at the start until you really get into it – things that work and things that don’t work,” he said.
The plan so far is to incorporate creamy, chocolate-covered treats for the adult with a sweet tooth and colourful, fruity frozen snacks for the tots.
Brubacher’s Twitter page, @IceCreamElmira, will let customers know the cart’s location as he cycles through town and visits summer hotspots like the down town section of Arthur Street, soccer fields, the Woolwich Memorial Centre and Lions Park.
Brubacher will also be awarded an additional $1,500 through the program to continue his studies. Having finished his first year of the international business management program at Conestoga College, his future in business looks open to possibilities. The 19-year-old hopes the mobile business will help to narrow down his goals.
If all goes well, Ice Cream! Ice Cream! Ice Cream! is set to start operating from July 15, running to the beginning of September. For hours of operations and locations, follow @IceCreamElmira on Twitter or listen for the bell.