This is a follow up story for The Good Scoop. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hello again, my name is Stephen Layton and I'm one of the owners of The Good Scoop located in Dixon California. We make our own ice cream by hand in small batches using fresh ingredients. We take great pride in making the best ice cream possible and like to have fun while bringing a smile to people's faces. The Good Scoop has some standard flavors but we also make flavors that change with the seasons. Some of her best-sellers are cookies and cream, chocolate, and our version of Cookie Monster. We use natural blue coloring to achieve blue flavor for a Cookie Monster ice cream along with house-made edible cookie dough and all-natural chocolate cream cookies.
This has been a challenging year for all businesses including ours. Our sales have been all over the board, when COVID first hit it was initially a huge drop then we got busy for a short bit, then once again we were slow only to get busy again. it's truly been a wild ride this year. I know that we are not alone and that nearly all businesses are having to adapt and deal with a highly unusual year.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Businesses have been facing lots of challenges but with challenges always come opportunities. Pre-COVID we had plans to expand with a shop in Sacramento, unfortunately, the potential opening of that coincided with many of the lockdowns in California thus, we were not able to complete the project. It was a very tough decision and one that we did not take lightly. The business has still not returned to normal in many of the urban cores with Sacramento included in that group. Although a tough decision, we still believe it was the right decision to opt-out of that project. We have refocused our energy on our shop in Dixon as well as growing our wholesale business. We lost a few wholesale accounts with all the lockdowns but have since added a few new ones and have some new exciting business partnerships on the horizon.
You have to be willing to try new things and new ideas.
Our staffing levels have remained pretty much constant over the past year. We have had some staff changes but that's inevitable with a small food-based business, most notably we've had some changes with our ice cream makers. The person who was making ice cream for the past year left under good terms but it was time for him to move on. We trained up another younger gentleman who we really enjoyed working with but after a few short months he too moved on for some other opportunities. After going through all those changes, my business partner Steve decided to take over making the ice cream. He is doubled and making the ice cream before and loves to cook. Since he's taking over any challenges we had with production have gone away and Steve has been making some really delicious ice cream flavors. This is definitely the slower time of the year for an ice cream shop so we are kind of hunkered down for the winter at the moment but we're looking forward to a great spring and summer with Steve making some new and exciting flavors.
We know that this is a challenging time for all people and businesses in this country, we included, so in response to that, we have reduced some of our prices temporarily this fall to help our business and to help support the community that we love. We know that many people are doing without and/or on tight budgets. We really do believe that a scoop of ice cream can brighten up a person's day and bring a smile to someone's face. We just wanted to make sure that we kept their product accessible to people. We've also done some specials throughout the summer with some discounts and other offers.
This past year we have embraced the food delivery services that are very prevalent in our world. These have helped us out moderately but have helped to make a product more accessible to those who either were not able to come out or did not want to come out. It is not going to huge moneymaker for us but it has been a nice supplement. We've also tried some delivery options in adjoining towns and neighborhoods as well as converting an online ordering website to wholesale only to accommodate the growth and wholesale we are seeing currently
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Some of the biggest lessons we've learned over the past year are to be patient and keep doing what we do best. For us, that is trying to make the best ice cream we can and having fun. I believe that when people are happy when they're making the product it really does translate into a better product. When COVID first hit we thought that was going to be it for our small business. We did not panic, we did have some very thoughtful and in-depth conversations.
We reduced our hours and changed how our business operated by taking away some products, removing ice cream tasting, and implementing very stringent cleaning regimens. This showed us that one needs to be adaptable and resilient to the changing world that we live in. We hope that there is a return to normal shortly, we remain cautiously optimistic. I know they'll be another challenge right around the corner. We hope that making it through this pandemic will prepare us for the next challenge ahead.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We are really excited about expanding to some other venues in Dixon including other local businesses called the Dixon Fruit Market. We plan to both continue to grow our wholesale business and focus our energies there. We've been reaching out to lots of different businesses including restaurants, grocery stores, small markets, as well as coffee shops looking for partners.
So if anyone knows anyone in the greater Sacramento area that would like to carry some delicious ice cream please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're sending messages, making phone calls, and getting out there to see what we can do. Over the next five years, we would really like to grow our wholesale business and be distributing ice cream up and down the Sacramento Valley to several small local businesses.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Although I love reading and do a lot of it every day, the majority of my reading is focused on children's books as I have two young boys at home between the ages of 2 and 5. This takes up quite a bit of my time and all of my reading is dedicated to reading children's books. I don't mind though, I love spending time with my kids and reading them books. They love books and so do I.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
The struggle is real. It is very difficult to grow your business, there's lots of competition and the challenges seem never-ending. Perseverance is important, never give up and keep trying. You have to be willing to try new things and new ideas. We continue to try new flavors, staffing levels, different hours we are open as well as other creative ideas.
We reach out to other businesses and chat and see what they're doing. You can learn a lot from listening and observing.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are not looking to hire anyone at this moment, we just switched over to our winter hours with our shop closed on Monday and Tuesday. During these days that our shop is closed, we are focusing on filling wholesale orders and keeping your current staff employed. When the warmer weather comes around in the spring, which is early March here in California, we always hire a few new employees.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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