Post Tagged with: ice cream

Marketing Your Vending Cart

12 June, 2011

Do you want to know how to market your vending cart? This article is an excerpt from our FREE Cart Vending Guide – Click the book cover below for details on how to download for free.

Signage (POP – Point of Purchase)

Signs and product shots sell. It’s called creating “appetite appeal”. If you are selling a strong brand, take advantage of it and make sure that it is clearly visible to potential customers. If you aren’t buying product from a company that supplies signage and product images, you should set aside $250-$300 to create a sign or banner and to have a local printer create some vinyl decals for your cart. If you are making your own product, or if the brand you are selling is not a house hold name, you should focus on product pictures and make sure you communicate this first and foremost – as the public won’t care much about a brand or business name. They want to know what you have for sale. In short, visibility means sales. So make sure it is VERY clear what you are offering.

Product Quality

Yes, it matters. Even if you are doing a one time event. People talk, families talk, and if your product is good, more of them will buy. It seems like common sense, but some vendors are so focused on buying the lowest cost product that they seem to miss this important fact. If you are selling in a tourist area, many of these tourists come back year after year. So, if you want repeat sales, make sure you are selling a good product. In addition, many tourists are there for a  week or more, so if they fall in love with your ice cream or Italian ice, they will come back again and again during their stay.


Rule #1)

Don’t be afraid to charge “too much”. People have a tendency to price items too low because, early on, they don’t understand their true expenses. There are hidden expenses (including your time) that many of us tend to overlook. There are also unexpected expenses that tend to come up that we don’t account. For example, the vehicle we use to transport the cart may break down and need to be repaired, or someone inadvertently unplugs the back stock freezer and $300 worth of product melts. These are costs that will come up, and you need to make sure that you are pricing these potential expenses in.

In general, you should shoot for a retail price that is 3 times what your product costs you. If it costs you $.80 per serving, charge at least $3.50.

For events that are high cost (rent), you may want to charge 4 times your cost.

Another factor in pricing is rounding.  You should include your sales tax in your pricing and you should round to the nearest quarter. Best case scenario you hit the dollar marks so that you don’t have to make change in coins.

Neil Williams

KeyWord Farm, LLC
877-632-2210 (fax)
BLOG My Humble Beginnings in Paradise


Soft Serve Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt Freezers

7 June, 2011

Stoelting Commercial Grade Gravity and Pressure Fed Soft Serve, Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Frozen Custard Freezer Machines are available as floor models and counter-top models.  These machines come in single flavor, twin twist, or double cylinder, and are ideal for restaurants, hotels, fast food operations, buffets, cafeterias, institutions, and family fun centers.

See Pictures and Descriptions below.

Neil Williams

KeyWord Farm, LLC
877-632-2210 (fax)
BLOG My Humble Beginnings in Paradise



Counter-top, Twin Twist, Soft Serve/Yogurt, Gravity Freezer.

Counter-top Model, Twin Twist, Gravity, Soft Serve/Yogurt Freezer. Triple-duty freezer allows you to serve two individual flavors or combine them for a twist, produces quality product consistency from first cone to last. IntelliTec control for worry-free operation. ECM (Energy Conservation Mode) protects from over-agitation.  Optional floor stand creates a ‘floor model” package freeing up counter space and providing additional storage.



Twin Twist, Gravity, Soft Serve/Yogurt Freezer

Gravity Soft Serve/Yogurt Freezer dispenses two single flavors, or combine for twin twist.




Single Flavor, Soft Serve, Pressure Freezer with Built-In Mix Pump.

Single Flavor, pressure, soft serve ice cream machine, floor model with built-in mix pump.  High production capacity, ideally suited for high volume operations. Its high efficiency stainless steel freezing cylinder results in fast freezing, quick recovery, and optimum energy efficiency.



Single Flavor, Soft Serve, Pressure Freezer, Remote Mix Pump Model.

Single Flavor, pressure, soft serve ice cream machine, remote mix pump model. Its high-efficiency stainless steel freezing cylinder features direct thermal conductivity for fast freezing, quick recovery, and optimum energy efficiency.  This high production capacity freezer is ideally suited for high volume operations, such as fast food drive-ins, theme parks, and recreational facilities.




Slim, Twin Twist, Soft Serve, Pressure Freezer with Remote Mix Pump.

Model 238R slim, twin twist, floor model soft serve ice cream freezer. Optional remote mix pump permits use of large capacity mix containers, keeping mix handling to a minimum. High capacity, space saving floor unit has a standard night switch providing overnight refrigerated mix storage, saving energy and labor. Ideal for high volume operations. Serve two flavors individually or combine them for a twist.



Slim, Twin Twist, Floor Model Soft Serve/Yogurt Pressure Freezer with Mix Storage Refrigerated Cabinet.

Slim, Twin Twist, Floor Model Soft Serve/Yogurt Pressure Freezer with Mix Storage Refrigerated Cabinet. Maintains high production capacity in high temperature conditions. Stoelting’s high efficiency evaporator system and the Scroll Compressor provide greater reliability and quieter operation. The IntelliTec control with LCD display communicates with the operator for worry-free operation. Ideal choice for locations where space is an issue.




Slim, Twin Twist, Floor Model Soft Serve/Yogurt Pressure Freezer with Refrigerated Mix Storage Cabinet.

Slim, Twin Twist, Floor Model Soft Serve/Yogurt Pressure Freezer with Mix Storage Refrigerated Cabinet. Maintains high production capacity in high temperature conditions. Stoelting’s high efficiency evaporator system and the Scroll Compressor provide greater reliability and quieter operation. The IntelliTec control with LCD display communicates with the operator for worry-free operation. Ideal choice for locations where space is an issue.

O431RC (Rear Cab)

O431 RC (Rear Cab)

Slim, Twin Twist, Floor Model Soft Serve/Yogurt Freezer with Rear Opening Refrigerated Cab.




Slim, Twin Twist, Soft Serve/Yogurt, Pressure Freezer with Refrigerated Mix Storage Cabinet.

Slim, Twin Twist, Pressure Fed Soft Serve/Yogurt Freezer with Refrigerated Mix Storage Cabinet, Floor Model.  Maintains high production capacity in high temperature conditions. Provides greater reliability and quieter operation with Stoelting’s high efficiency evaporator system and the Scroll Compressor. IntelliTec control with LCD display communicates with the operator for worry-free operation.




Single Flavor, Soft Serve/Yogurt, Pressure Freezer with Refrigerated Mix Storage Cabinet.

Single Flavor, Pressure Fed, Soft Serve/Yogurt Freezer with Refrigerated Mix Storage Cabinet. Maintains high production capacity in high temperature conditions. Features Stoelting’s high efficiency evaporator system, Scroll Compressor, IntelliTec Control, and ECM (Energy Conservation Mode) to prevent over-agitation during slow or non-draw periods.  Built for consistent control of all mixes.  Optional bag connection system to eliminate potential contamination sources.



Double Cylinder, Soft Serve, Pressure Freezer with Refrigerated Mix Storage Cabinet.

Double cylinder, pressure fed, soft serve machine with refrigerated mix storage cabinet. Ultra high production capacity with two compressors and two drive motors.  Offers a high dispensing rate and allows two operators to dispense product at the same time for high volume serving periods. Ideal choice for restaurants, schools, cafeterias, drive-ins, recreational facilties, and ice-cream parlors.



Twin Twist, Soft Serve, Pressure Freezer with Refrigerated Mix Storage Cabinet.

Twin Twist, Pressure Fed Soft Serve Ice Cream Freezer with Refrigerated Mix Storage Cabinet. Serve two different flavors individually or combine them for a twist.  The electronic controls assure peak efficiency and uniform product consistency. The U431 adjustable dispensing rate meets the requiements for high volume dispensing.



High Capacity Combination Soft Serve/Shake Machine with Refrigerated Mix Storage Cabinet

High Capacity, Combination Soft Serve/Shake Pressure Freezer with Refrigerated Mix Storage Cabinet.  Allows the operator to serve soft serve from the left side and shakes on the right, with the cost and convenience of one unit. Ultra high production with two compressors and two motors providing continuous production from each cylinder.  Clear door shows visible moving product.



High Capacity Combination Soft Serve/Shake Machine with Refrigerated Mix Storage Cabinet and Mixer.

SU444 High Capacity Combination Soft Serve/Shake Machine with Refrigerated Mix Storage Cabinet and Built-In Mixer. Dispense soft serve from left side of unit, and shakes from the right side, with the cost and convenience of one unit.



Twin Twist, Floor Model Gravity, Soft Serve/Yogurt Freezer

Twin Twist Gravity Soft Serve Yogurt Freezer, Floor Model, with IntelliTec 2™ Control Panel.  Precision controlled refrigeration system for quality product consistency.  Twin Twist allows for two separate flavors or combine flavors for a twist.



Single Flavor, Counter-top Model, Soft Serve/Yogurt, Gravity Freezer.

Single Flavor, Counter-top Model, Gravity, Soft Serve/Yogurt Freezer. Compact, space-saving unit that can handle peak demands. IntelliTec control for worry-free operation. ECM (Energy Conservation Mode) to prevent over-agitation. Optional floor stand to create a ‘floor model’ package freeing up counter space and providing additional storage.  Highest capacity 115 volt soft serve/yogurt freezer available.



High Capacity, Counter-Top, Combination Soft Serve/Shake, Gravity Freezer

Counter-Top, Combination Soft Serve/Shake Gravity Freezer. High production capacity with one compressor, two drive motors, and two independent controls for peak efficiency and uniform product consistency.  Allows operator to dispense soft serve from the left side and shakes from the right. Optional spinner available for shakes.  Ideal choice for restaurants, drive-ins, recreational facilities, schools, cafeterias, and ice cream parlors.



High Capacity, Counter-Top, Combination Soft Serve/Shake, Gravity Freezer

Counter-Top, Combination Soft Serve/Shake Gravity Freezer with Front Mounted Spinner. High production capacity with one compressor, two drive motors, and two independent controls for peak efficiency and uniform product consistency.  Allows operator to dispense soft serve from the left side and shakes from the right. Ideal choice for restaurants, drive-ins, recreational facilities, schools, cafeterias, and ice cream parlors.



Single Flavor, Counter-top Model, Soft Serve, Gravity Freezer.

Single Flavor, Counter-top Model, Gravity Soft Serve Freezer. Provides greater reliability and quieter operation with the combination of Stoelting high efficiency evaporator system and the Scroll Compressor. IntelliTec control for worry-free operation. ECM (energy conservation mode) protects product form over agitation.

Custom Made Visual Dipping Cabinets

Our newly redesigned ice cream dipping cabinets feature extra insulation and exclusive digital temperature controls.  The extra insulation will lower your operating cost. We admit, it’s a small amount, but we are always looking for ways to help you squeeze even a dollar out of your operating costs. Our exclusive digital thermostat lets you set, a degree at a time, the precise operating temperature for your particular product, whether you are service ice cream, gelato, Italian ices, or any other frozen dessert. dipping cabinet

dipping cabinet visible

Now Nelson offers a complete line of visual dipping cabinets from 4 to 16 facings, with a clean line, nearly unbreakable lift lids and complete with optional can racking systems. Our can racking system is designed for  the standard 3 gallon round cardboard tub; however, the side rails can be purchased seperately for use with the Ropak tubs and can skirts.

All equipment shipped standard with Nelson’s exceptional quality. You have enough to worry about whan you’re running a business. When you buy a Nelson, your equipment isn’t one of them.





CAPACITY 4 8 12 16 22 30
FACINGS 4 6 8 10 12 16
TEMP RANGE -20 TO +30 (F) -20 TO +30 (F) -20 TO +30 (F) -20 TO +30(F) -20 to +30 (F) -20 to + 30(F)
COMP H.P. 1/5 1/3 1/3 1/2 1/2 1/2
ELECTRIC-STD 115 v., 5 amps 115 v., 8 amps 115 v., 8 amps 115 v., 9 amps 9 amps 11 amps
OPTIONAL 220 v., 3 amps 220 v., 4 amps 220 v., 4 amps 220 v., 6 amps
REFRIGERANT R404a R404a R404a R404a R404a R404a

Neil Williams

KeyWord Farm, LLC
877-632-2210 (fax)
BLOG My Humble Beginnings in Paradise



In Store Dipping Cabinets

Nelson offers the most complete line of dipping cabinets for store operators, whether you are serving ice cream, gelato, Italian ices, water ices, or soft frozen lemonade.

dipping cabinet All Nelson dipping cabinets, whether flip-lid conventional ice cream dipping cabinets, back bar flavor-rail cabinets, or visual display dipping cabinets, feature our exclusive digital temperature control.  Regardless of the temperature of your particular product, you can set the operating temperature of our cabinets from -30 degrees to +40 degree, 1 degree at a time, with precision and repeatability not available on any other manufacturer’s ice cream cabinets.

We offer our cabinets in a variety of configurations- stainless steel interior and/or exteriors, special sizes, custom can skirts for the various types of containers used by the ice cream, Italian ice, gelato, and other frozen dessert producers.

dipping cabinet conventionalAlso, all of our dipping cabinets can be made with raised-bottom or flat-bottom interiors.  Let’s face it, many of you, like me, are getting old and lazy and don’t want to reach into the bottom of an ice cream freezer.  You use milk crates, empty containers, whatever, and really only use the top layer of product.  So we will make our dipping freezers without the deep step.  So you don’t have to clean it, or pay the energy cost of refrigerating a space you just never use.

Have a special product or a special packaging method??  Let us know, and we’ll try to configure an ice cream cabinet to meet your needs. NELSON, the Best Deal in ice cream cabinets online.

flavor rail dipping cabinet

Neil Williams

KeyWord Farm, LLC
877-632-2210 (fax)
BLOG My Humble Beginnings in Paradise

Canopies & Graphics

The main purpose of the overhead canopy is to announce your presence in whatever venue you are selling your products.  And the types and styles of canopies are limited only by one’s imagination. For your ice cream cart, pretzel cart, beer cart, or any outdoor pushcart, the overhead canopy can be a very cost-effective way of advertising your products.

We have included some basic designs and concepts, along with the specifications and drawings. Standard with our canopies are spring-assist support poles, a light & outlet and a pull-out shade for the operator.  The canopies break down without tools and can be effortlessly raised and lower for set-up. With the canopy lowered, or in the down position, the cart will fit through a man door.

doem canopy-standardCustom Graphics are another way to advertise your product. When you choose to upgrade your cart and canopy with graphics, you have options.  Any option will require that you produce a design, a logo, that represents you and your product.

A graphics artist can help you design your image and produce the proper files for printing.

Your local sign maker can print vinyl decals and apply them to your cart after you take delivery. Alternately you can provide print-ready files to Nelson so we can print and install them at the factory before shipping your cart to you complete.


The print process used by Nelson is tried and true. We print second surface onto the lexan cart and canopy panels with an expensive high tech print machine then backed up for protection on the inside. This process, although more costly than vinyl decals, promises vibrant, durable, full color graphics protected from fading and scratching.

The Basic Canopy Styles are standard and composed of aluminum frames with white lexan (space age UV treated polymer) panels riveted to the frames. They include a pull-out shade, light, electrical outlet, spring-assist poles, and depending on the design, a storage shelf for lightweight paper products.

If your opting for custom graphics purchased from us, your printed panels with be installed on your cart at the factory and your cart will arrive complete. No assembly required.

If you elect to have a local sign maker wrap your cart with vinyl after taking delivery, the white lexan with accept this method nicely.

You may elect no canopy at this time, but the cart will be manufactured to accept a canopy at a later date, with the holes covered with removeable caps.

Just remember, it’s cheap real estate up there. Consider the visability at an event after dark when you have your name in lights over the heads of any crowded venue.

Some of the canopies shown have additional charges. Custom canopies can also be made. Just ask.

Neil Williams

KeyWord Farm, LLC
877-632-2210 (fax)
BLOG My Humble Beginnings in Paradise

No-Coldplate & Dry Ice Carts

The Best Value with the Features You Need! Take Your Products to the People with these ice cream pushcarts designed to HEAT UP Your Sales!

While these carts are used primarily for selling ice cream novelites, many people will use these carts to scoop ice cream, serve frozen lemonade, water ice, gelato,  or Italian ice.  These pushcarts can be built many ways.

Whether these carts are built and configured as ice cream carts or Italian ice carts, or water ice carts, you can be sure you are getting a quality piece of equipment made in the USA.  We do not start with a cheap store freezer and try to modify for outdoor use.  We build our own.  And nobody produces more varieties and sizes of ice cream carts than  Nelson does.

no coldplate dry ice cartThis section contains the most economical carts we make.

1.  These carts can be built with refrigeration systems only.

2.  Simplest and least expensive, these carts can be built as insulated units only, with you providing dry ice or some other means of cooling, such as our re-useable cold packs.

3.  Nelson makes more sizes and styles of ice cream carts than any other supplier.  We make carts for standard ice cream containers, we can outfit the carts with specialized racks for custom products, and we make wide-body carts for those of you who make your own homemade ice cream or water ice with larger containers.

We do not simply modify store cabinets; all of our carts cabinets are built from the ground up to provide the extra performance you need in the vending business.

Digital temperature controls allow for any temperature setting for the pushcarts that have a refrigeration system built into them.

Model CLT4

  • Capacity 5 cu.ft.
  • Approx 500 Novelties
  • 1/3 h.p. compressor
  • R404a refrigerant
  • 115 volts, 8 amps

Model CLT4-NR

  • Capacity 7 cu.ft.
  • Approx 700 novelties

Model CLT6

  • Capacity 8 cu.ft.
  • Approx 800 novelties
  • 1/3 hp 404a refrigerant
  • 8 amps, 115v.

Model CLT6-NR

  • Capacity 10 cu.ft.
  • Approx 1000 Novelties

Model CLT8-NR

  • Capacity 14.5 cu.ft.
  • Approx 1500 novelties

Model CLT8

  • Capacity 12.5 cu.ft.
  • Approx 1250 Novelties
  • 1/3 h.p. Compressor
  • R-404a refrigerant
  • 115 v., 8 amps

Specs for the CLT Models:
Lid locks standard on all models.
Top to be 18 ga. type 304 stainless steel, standard. Optional solid surface materials.
Base frame to be welded aluminum.
All exposed corners welded and polished smooth.
Finished exterior standard in white pre-paint steel. Optional Lexan panels at additional charge.
Wheels to be 6″ or 8″ diameter (2) swivel w/locks, (2) rigid. Load rating of wheel to be a minimum of 350 lbs. each.
Interior of cart to be 24 ga. stainless steel, standard.
Bottom drain installed for defrost.
Condensing unit mounted on glide out base with service valves.
Carts to have 5 year limited warranty against insulation failure or internal tubing leaks.

Neil Williams

KeyWord Farm, LLC
877-632-2210 (fax)
BLOG My Humble Beginnings in Paradise

Nelson Cold Plate Novelty Pushcarts

Nelson ice cream pushcarts with cold plates are designed for use ANYTIME or ANYWHERE.

Cold plates are standard on these models.  Simply plug the ice cream cart  into a standard electrical outlet overnight and the next day you are ready for a full day of selling ice cream and other frozen desserts without the need for electricity or dry ice.

Our New Hi_R carts, introduced in January 2011, is the most energy-efficient ice cream cart produced on earth. The HiR carts are lighter and totally recyclable, after their long useful life.

Standard features on all of our ice cream carts include a push bar, umbrella bracket, white lexan exterior, 6″ or 8″  rubber wheels, and a lid locking bar. Options include graphics, canopy, umbrella, bicycle wheels and a fold down shelf.

cold plate pushcartsThese pushcarts are available for a wide variety of different products and temperatures.  Ice cream carts for novelties are generally set for -10 degrees and holding temperatures of around 0 degrees after the overnight charge.  Scooping carts, gelato carts, Italian ice carts and water ice carts can be ordered for special temperatures and can be equipped with our exclusive digital temperature control to dial in exactly the right operating temperature for your special product.

cold plate pushcartsAll Nelson ice cream pushcarts have available optional overhead canopies with pull-out shades for the operator and spring-assit canopy support poles.  Even the largest and most complex carts can be easily broken down to fit thru a standard doorway without tools.

The spring-assist canopy support poles are a Nelson exclusive, and are standard with all canopies.  No tools and very little effort is required to raise and lower the canopy, making setup and tear down a breeze.


All Nelson cold plate pushcarts are manufactured with stainless steel bottoms and have built-in cold plates for maximum efficiency and quick freezing for an overnight charge.

Nelson cold plate pushcarts have an average of 3″ of poured insulation and over-sized compressors and are capable of operating at the specified temperature in 90 degree weather.

The tops on the Nelson cold plate ice cream carts are made of stainless steel with welded corners.

All electrically operated Nelson carts will be ETL or UL listed for outdoor use.

All Nelson pushcarts will be NSF listed for the appropriate use.

All Nelson ice cream pushcarts have over-sized electrical power cords suitable for outdoor use.

Lid locks and umbrella brackets are provided on all ice cream carts as standard equipment.

All Nelson ice cream carts have heavy-duty welded aluminum base frames for maximum strength and minimum weight.

Nelson carts are standard for ice cream novelty temperatures.  Alternate uses, such as carts for Italian ice, water ice, other products can be specified at time of order for other temperatures.

Standard sizes of cold plate ice cream carts listed below.

Model BDC8 Ice Cream Push Cart

* Capacity 8.5 cu.ft.
* Approx 850 Novelties or (6) 3-gal cans top +(4) lower storage, 10 ice cream tubs total.
* Cold Plates Standard
* 1/3 h.p. compressor
* R404a refrigerant
* 115 volts, 6 amps

Model BDC8S Ice Cream Push Cart

* Capacity 10 cu.ft.
* Approx 1000 novelties
* Cold Plates Standard
* 1/3 h.p. Compressor
* R404a refrigerant
* 115 v., 6 amps

Neil Williams

KeyWord Farm, LLC
877-632-2210 (fax)
BLOG My Humble Beginnings in Paradise

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Make Your Own Ice Cream or Buy 3 Gallon Containers from a Distributor?

17 January, 2011

Make Your Own Ice CreamWhat’s the better option, making your own ice cream or buying and reselling 3 gallon tubs of  a recognized brand? Truthfully, there is no right answer. Both could be great options. This  post will simply to outline reasons why you would go in one direction vs. the other depending on your specific situation and your specific goals.


This question is frequently debated and asked by almost everyone planning to enter the ice cream store business. In my opinion, it depends on many factors.  I encourage those of you who make your own or buy a national brand in 3 gallon cans to post what led you to your specific strategy.






I’ll start with the benefits of buying a national or strong regional ice cream brand that is pre-packaged in 3 or 2.5 gallon round tubs:

  • People like to buy what they are familiar with
  • Initial investment is lower – you only have to buy dipping cabinets and storage cabinets vs. a batch freezer, hardening cabinet, dipping cabinets, etc.
  • Less machinery means less utilities expense
  • Product consistency – making your own can also be consistent if you are the only one doing it, but once you have employees start making ice cream too, it can get tricky to maintain that consistency
  • Simplicity – no manufacturing labor – you buy 3 gallon tubs from an ice cream distributor, you drop them in the dipping cabinet and scoop away

Ok, now we move on to why making your own ice cream  might be the best choice:

  • Cost – normal markup on ice cream you purchase from a distributor allows you to make around 70% gross profit when charging what the market will bear.  In other words, if you charge $2 for a scoop, your cost is about $.60 for that scoop. When you make your own, the materials cost is much lower. That $2 scoop should cost you more  like $.30-$.40. If you make Italian Ices, your cost is even less
  • Exclusivity – Only YOU can sell your ice cream. Customers can buy national brands in many parlors and can also pick them up at the local grocery store
  • Variety – With an Emery-Thompson Batch Freezer, you can make not only ice cream, but you can also make your own Italian Ice and Gelato.
  • Homemade - People love homemade ice cream. Customers like the idea that the ice cream is made fresh and with a local twist to it. Customers like to see and know the owner of the business
  • Creativity – You can invent new flavors. You can make changes to the product suit your region’s tastes. You can hold contests for new flavors using social media tools. The options are limitless

As you can see, the decision to make your own or purchase a pre-made product depends on many factors. You can make good money with both options.  For those who are on a tighter budget, the best option might be to start with a pre-packaged product.  For those of you who are creative and have the necessary start-up financing, you might want to consider making your own.

Look forward to hearing the comments and stories of those who have made the decision one way or another.

Interested in attending a FREE, live webcast on how to make ice cream, gelato and italian ice? Click the link below to read more and to sign up if you’re up for it. Don’t forget to come back here and post your comments!

Thanks again for reading this post!



BDC-8 Cold Plate Cart Featured on NBC’s – The Apprentice

27 September, 2010

Ice Cream Cart for Popsicles, Cups and Bars

BDC-8 Featured on The Apprentice

If you haven’t seen it yet, you missed a pretty funny episode of NBC’s show, The Apprentice.

The Men vs. The Women…..who could sell more Perry’s ice cream novelties out of one of our BDC-8 Cold Plate Carts

Watch the full episode below. It will take a few minutes to load, and you have to watch the commercials, but it is well worth it.

For those of you who made it to this page and watched the episode, your reward is a free copy of our Cart Vending Guide!

Click the e-book cover below to download your FREE COPY

Italian Ice Business Guide

Click the e-book cover above to begin download

Opening an Ice Cream Store

23 July, 2010

ice cream store business

Opening Your Own Ice Cream Shop

This article was written to provide a few basics on opening an ice cream parlor. There’s a lot more to it that is listed here, but reading this might give you a little bit of an idea of what is required. If you own an ice cream store, and would like to comment, please do. We encourage you to challenge our assumptions and contribute to our knowledge base.

The most important decision you will make on the road to success is most likely to be the location you choose. You’ve probably already heard of the 3 most important factors involved in a successful retail operation: location, location, location. I cannot stress enough the importance of this, especially when it comes to ice cream.

Ice cream is an “impulse” product. In other words, people who buy ice cream usually do it on impulse when they see it and are tempted. It is less likely these days that people will make a conscious thought to go to an ice cream parlor. Sure, some still do, but more sales are made to customers who happen to be brought to the area for another reason.

I have listed the key factors to look for when considering your location below. If your location meets most of these, you are off to a good start:


  • Car traffic is nice, but more importantly, how many people are walking by?
  • If you are counting on high car traffic, make sure that your location is easily visible from the street and easy to access (parking, etc.)
  • Are they typically there to browse or to buy?
  • Being in a Wal-mart type plaza doesn’t guarantee success. It depends on how close to the Wal-Mart door you are.
  • Talk to existing businesses and ask them what the traffic is like.
  • If you are counting on car traffic as your main traffic, a drive thru window is almost mandatory.
  • Enclosed malls are better for year round traffic and people prefer them to stroll through and buy ice cream! In general, it’s better to pay more rent and be in an enclosed mall than to pay less and be in a strip mall.
  • 3-4 good anchor stores would help.
  • Visit the site on different days at different times to see how consistent the traffic is.
  • Competition: How many parlors within a 1 mile radius? If inside a mall, who else is serving ice cream? Competition is not necessarily a bad thing. If someone else is on one side of the mall and doing well, chances are that you will do well on the extreme other side of the mall.
  • Population is key. If the area is somewhat congested, that’s a good sign.
  • Visibility. Will everyone who walks close by know that there is ice cream there?
  • Would you buy ice cream there?
  • Hours of operation: Make sure that the peak traffic flow is during hours that you’re willing and able to be open.
  • Make sure you have adequate space. 800-1000 sq ft is a pretty good middle ground.
  • Is the area growing?


Good locations/Bad locations:


  • Indoor Malls, airports, zoo’s, university campus, amusement parks, strip malls (high traffic), next to a movie theatre, superstore (inside a Wal-mart), professional building, train station, beach area, sporting arena.


  • Strip Mall unless in thriving area with obvious high traffic (low traffic, no real anchor’s), busy street (but being on the wrong side), gas station, defunct fast food/snack operation.


  • After you find out what they want for monthly rent, don’t be afraid to ask for a stepped up lease with a low initial amount. For example, free rent for the first month, half the rent for the next three months, then full rent beginning in month four.  Or a couple of hundred off per month for the first year. This is just a negotiating guideline. They may not go for it, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. In fact, they may be expecting you to. If you don’t, they may feel they can take advantage of you in some way. So it’s always best to shoot for the sky and then see what they will give in to. It is in their best interest to help you get off on the right foot and be successful. Many will be willing to help if they believe in you.
  • From my experience, you probably don’t want to pay more than $3000 per month. It’s very hard to make a go of it at a higher monthly rent unless you are talking about an airport or ridiculously high traffic mall. An average rent for a parlor is in the $1800 range. Of course, these are just general benchmarks. An average parlor should sell around $18,000 per month. A rough industry standard says that rent should fall within 8-12% (10% x $18,000 = $1800 per month)




I am not qualified to give legal or tax advice, so I really cannot guide you here. I can tell you that is a great website that can explain in pretty basic terms what would be best for you as an individual or group of people and do it pretty cheap and painlessly.


In general, parlor ice cream is packed in 3-gallon tubs.  Edy’s, Breyer’s, Blue Bell and most premium brands come in 3 gallon, round cans. A ballpark figure as far as cost is concerned is about $26/tub for premium ice cream. Some companies charge less for Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry and a little more for everything else. The $26 is a good average figure for premium ice cream. You are supposed to get 55 four-ounce scoops out of a 3-gallon tub. This works out to .47 cents per scoop. I like to add 8 cents to the cost to cover waste, giveaways, etc. So were looking at .55 cents per scoop. Many companies will try to manipulate these figures in their best interests, but I can tell you from experience that the $.55 per 4 oz scoop is pretty reliable. Add another 5 cents for cup and spoon or the cone for a total of .60 cents per scoop. Very doubtful that in real life it works out to be any less, even if you are paying a few bucks less for the tub. Cheaper tubs usually have more air whipped in and you yield less, therefore having the same or higher cost when it comes down to it. My recommended retail is $2.00.

$2.25-$250 isn’t out of the question, but might be too much depending on the area. You are in this to make money, so do some competitive research in your area and make sure that you start off as high as the market will seem to bear. Raising prices later because you realize you aren’t charging enough is never good, so make sure you pay particular attention to your pricing strategy right off the bat. The majority of new business owners make the mistake of not pricing their products high enough. Don’t let this be you. A $2.00 retail makes the COGS (cost of goods sold) 30%. (.60/$2.00 = 30%)



( this statement is intended to be a very basic example and is not a guarantee of anything. Actual p/l varies according to hours open, full time employees, etc.)

One Month:

Sales:                                          $18,000

Cost of Goods: (30%)                   $(5,420)

Gross Profit                                 $12,580

Less: Overhead

Rent                                            $(1,800)

Utilities                                       $(600)

Labor                                          $(4,000)

Equipment/Biz start Loan             $(1,200)

Advertising                                  $(500)

Administrative                             $(200)

Misc                                           $(200)

Total Overhead                            $(8500)

Total Monthly Profit:                    $4080



It is not a bad idea to try and diversify your operation as much as possible. Popcorn, cotton candy, and other fun foods are a good incremental sale. Cookies and pastries are also good if you know a good place to get them fresh. A suggestion may be Otis Spunkmeyer, a vendor of cookies, brownies, pies, muffins, etc.). 888-ASK-OTIS.


It would be great to be able to have both soft serve and hard pack in your parlor. Depending on your financial situation, this may not be a reality. Soft Serve machines are relatively expensive. They are a good investment if you are adding them to an existing snack shop and want to get into the ice cream business, but I don’t necessarily recommend them to start off with if you are on a limited investment budget and trying to get a parlor off and running. You can purchase 2 sixteen-flavor dip freezers for less than what a 2 flavor soft serve machine will cost you. Hard pack yogurt can be excellent!

On the other hand, if you have the financial backing, there are many soft serve fans out there, and this can be an incremental sale.


There are great premium brands out there such as Edy’s, Breyer’s, Blue Bell, Blue Bunny, as well as many strong regional brands. A key issue when choosing a brand is not only the quality of the product, but also the distribution services in your area. Not all brands are available in all states. You need to find out who distributes the brand (company owned routes vs. independent distributors) in your area and make sure that the organization seems capable and competent to handle your needs. Do they stock as many flavors as you want to carry? Can they give you a flavor list to order with? Who else do they service in your area (you can check with them to see if they give good service and are dependable). What brands to they distribute?


If you feel you have the passion and ability that it takes to make your own ice cream I would not argue against it. If this is something you are thinking about, make sure you read the sample business plan closely. The bottom line is: you need to be extremely devoted (full time) to your parlor for this to work. If you are devoted, and passionate about the product you are making, you have a great chance of succeeding.

The investment for a parlor that makes their own requires a substantially higher investment.


Ballpark Initial Investment: (depending on what your situation is, the minimum investment would be 15-20k if you go with a portion of the equipment used)


It can be done for less, and certainly for more, but an average independently owned basic parlor would cost you in the vicinity of 50K to put together. Depending on the theme you choose,  (“old fashioned parlor with steel stools, etc.) how much work needs to be done to the location, etc., you could be looking at 6 figures.The figures below are intended to give you an idea of how the initial start up costs might breakdown. Depending on your specific theme or situation these figures could be adjusted up or down. Working capital (basically what you should have in your checking account to maintain positive cash flow, etc.) can be as low as $3500. I’ve seen some franchise numbers that suggest a 10k working capital figure. Obviously, the higher the better and the main objective here is to guard against a slow start, unexpected costs, a need for increased advertising and promotions, etc.



Rent ($1500)      x 3 (first/last/security)                       $4500

Utilities (Deposit)                                                        $1000

Contractor (Cabinetry, etc)                                         $10,000

Ice Cream, Drinks, Cones, Candies, etc.                     $2,500

Advertising                                                                 $500

Paper goods, cleaning supplies, office sup, misc         $750

Plumbing (sink, dipper wells, etc.)                              $1500

Insurance Premium                                                    $400

Signage                                                                      $2000

Deposits/Liscences                                                    $1500

Cosmetic work to space                                              $1000

Working capital                                                          $7500

Architectural & Legal                                                 $2500


Dipping & Storage Freezers                                     $8000

Flavorail                                                                         $2800

Under counter Fridge                                                    $1600

Waffle Cone Baker                                                        $600

Hot Fudge Warmer                                                        $400

Glasses/Metal Shake Tins                                              $350

Shake Mixer                                                                  $600

Register                                                                         $300

Total                                           $50,300