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Opening an Ice Cream Shop

A Full Guide to Opening An Ice Cream Shop

Do you want to start an ice cream business/ open an ice cream shop but don’t know where to begin? After all, there are so many things to consider, and you might be confused, but do not worry. This article will tell you all the basics you need to know to get your ice cream business up and running in no time. Once you have all the information you need opening an ice cream shop will be a breeze.

1. Types Of Ice Cream Business

Of course, the first thing to consider is the type of ice cream business you would like to run. There are several options, such as all-year-round ice cream shops or seasonal ice cream shops, ice cream trucks, and ice cream stands. They all have their advantages and disadvantages based on your location, the area’s climate, and the average foot traffic. 

All Year

Ice Cream Shop-All Year

As you can understand from the name, all-year-round ice cream stores are open throughout the entire year. While ice cream is mainly a summer treat, if you believe that your local customer base would be enough to sustain your business through winter, you can have an all-year-round ice cream store. Though keep in mind that the sales will be significantly lower compared to summertime.

You might wonder why open an all-year-round ice cream shop then? Well, there are several factors and solutions that could help you and make sure you profit all year. For instance, if you live in a particularly warm climate, you won’t have issues selling ice cream in fall and winter. In addition to the locational advantages, you can also expand your menu with different treats to ensure customer flow during the colder months. It might be a little more work than a plain ice cream shop, but offering variety will help you attract customers all year round and sustain your ice cream business.

Seasonal

Seasonal ice cream shops work during spring and summer and close during fall and winter. Most ice cream business owners prefer this model to avoid the cost of running a business during low-sale months. If you plan to open your shop in a tourist area and you think you can’t rely on local customers, then a seasonal shop is the better option. Plus, you wouldn’t need to deal with products other than ice cream to keep your business running during winter. 

Ice Cream Truck 

Nostalgia sells, and what is more nostalgic than an ice cream truck? The music, the bells, the colorful exterior… it is a bundle of joy for any kid outside, and it isn’t just the nostalgia that makes ice cream trucks profitable. It is a logical ice cream business model for people who want to experiment and enjoy more flexibility in their job hours.

Ice Cream Truck

While ice cream trucks offer flexibility and fun, they also require careful planning and calculation. Of course, you need to plan your route carefully and make sure you have all the necessary legal papers. Keep in mind that you’ll have limited space and calculate how much ice cream you’ll need throughout the day. 

Ice Cream Kiosks (Shopping Malls/Outdoors)

ice cream kiosk

Another type of ice cream business you can consider is ice cream kiosks. Ice cream kiosks are usually stationed in shopping malls for shoppers to take a break and treat themselves to some delicious ice cream. Still, they can also be found outdoors at basically any location. The beauty of this model is that you can buy them from manufacturers fully built to meet your wishes. 

Retail Boxes

If you wish to sell packaged ice cream having an ice cream retail box in your establishment will provide you with the necessary means to do so. It is a relatively easy option and a good idea if you would like to sell ice cream in your shop in addition to different products.

2. Small Business or Franchising?

There are many big ice cream brands out there, and the idea of franchising might have crossed your mind, but it is an undeniable fact that owning your own small ice cream business is a very appealing idea too. They both have advantages and disadvantages, and with pros, cons approach you can decide which option is the one for you.

Franchising

 Pros

  • People will recognize the brand, and you’ll start out with an already there customer base.
  • The brand that you choose to franchise from will be providing you with a lot of guidance and ease the process of starting an ice cream business from scratch.
  • You won’t have to deal with making big decisions or structuring your business from scratch since the business model and the menus are already clearly planned out for you by the brand.

Cons

  • You’ll have to pay the brand a franchising fee, and this initial cost might be a little high for a new entrepreneur.
  • While having a ready plan might be nice initially, franchising leaves very little room for creativity and customization. You won’t be able to step out of the box and create different flavors or interior designs. 

 Small Business

 Pros

  • The initial cost is lower since you don’t have to pay anyone a great deal of money for a brand name.
  • Lots of opportunities for creativity and total customizability. Your shop your rules. You can offer as many and different flavors as you want and design the interior of your shop to your liking. 
  • You are the one in charge and free to make any decisions and changes along the way. You don’t need to fit in with anyone’s design. 

Cons

  • No guidance from experienced professionals. You have to do your research well and make informed choices to avoid going down the wrong path. 
  • There is no existing customer base, so you have to put in extra effort to attract customers and create customer loyalty. 

3. Cost to Open   

The cost of opening an ice cream shop depends on the choices you’ll make along the way. The cost could range from 2000 dollars to 50.000 dollars based on your spendings. Buying, renting, or leasing ice cream shop equipment, franchising, or opening a stand-alone business are all factors that will affect the budget you will need for your dream ice cream shop.

4. Business License and Legal Issues

As with all businesses, you need to acquire the permits and licenses required by your local government to open your ice cream shop. Different states have different rules and requirements for new businesses, and you must do your research. Still, most of them basically expect you to have health and seller permits, employee identification numbers, and ice cream business licenses. By checking your local government’s website or paying them a visit, you can find out about all the required documents and ensure you don’t run into any legal issues in the future.

5. Joining a Business Trade Association 

There are national trade associations for all sorts of businesses, including the ice cream industry. Joining a trade association can help you build a network, get products at lower prices, and make sure you are aware of conventions and such. 

 6. Location

Location is an important aspect of the ice cream shop business, and you should pay attention to several details while choosing where to open your store. You might assume high foot traffic is all that needs attention, and of course, it is a crucial aspect, but the devil is in the detail. Such areas are more expensive, and you should carefully calculate how much you can profit off of a certain location before investing in it.

Seasonal-Ice-Cream-Shop

Since you will most probably sell more during the hot summer months, make sure the location gets more people around the warm seasons so that you can compensate for the upcoming months and afford rent during winter.

Choosing a place close to the park, the beach, schools, or the movies will present you with more and steadier customers. You could also open an ice cream shop or an ice cream kiosk inside a mall. Make sure to do thorough research before opening your shop. If there is a well-established ice cream shop nearby the location you had in mind, consider another place since the competition might not favor you. 

7. Ice Cream Shop Menu 

Offering different types of ice creams and additional products will help you attract more customers and help you have an all-year-round open shop. There are so many options you can consider when it comes to diversifying your menu. 

  • Flavors of your own creation. If you decided to open your shop and build a brand from scratch, creating signature flavors your shop could be known for is a great idea.
  • Different types of drinks such as frozen drinks, milkshakes, or even lemonades.
  • Soft serve ice cream is an excellent alternative to regular ice cream, and it is a variety loved by all.
  • Gelato and Frozen yogurt are also bound to attract customers and add some color to your menu.
  • Packaged ice cream is a good idea not only for variety but also as a safety net just in case you run out of ice cream in the middle of the day. 
  • Fat-free or Vegan ice creams are also valuable options most people search for nowadays, and being as inclusive as possible will enhance your brand reputation.

8. Buying or Leasing the Ice Cream Shop Equipment?

It all comes down to how much you want to commit to your ice cream shop—buying the commercial ice cream machines or leasing it? That is the question. Well, you are luckier than the prince of Denmark because we got the answer for you.

Buying the commercial ice cream machines makes a lot of sense for an all-year-round open shop, even though the initial cost might seem a tad too much. If you are committed to the idea, leasing won’t do you much good and will cost you a lot in the long run. Plus, you’ll have to return the ice cream shop equipment once the lease agreement is over.

However, if you are hesitant and want to see how the ice cream shop business works out for you first, you could lease most of the equipment and experiment with your shop. Leasing will give you the flexibility and freedom to try out and see if this sector is the one for you.

9. Staff Selection and Training


Well, after choosing a good location, getting the equipment, and creating a banger interior design, it’s time for hiring your first employees and training them. Once again, if you choose to go down the franchising path, you will have guidance and professional help.

Most brands handle the training of the new workers, and you just need to oversee their work afterward. However, if you decide to be a small business owner, you’ll have to carefully plan out a standard procedure each employee needs to follow, and you’ll need to train the new hires. In either case, make sure to hire willing, passionate, and friendly people to work at your ice cream shop. A smile can go a long way, and your customers will bound to come back to a place where they are always greeted with warmth and sent off with cold delicious ice cream.

Conclusion for Opening an Ice Cream Shop

Opening an ice cream shop might seem challenging, but there is nothing a little research can’t help. Now that you are familiar with the basics of opening an ice cream shop, you can further your research and take your first step toward the ice cream shop of your dreams. Starting an ice cream shop will hopefully be everything you imagined and more joy.

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