The Igloo Ice Cream Parlor

Nicholas Papoutsis first contacted the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Shippensburg University in early February 2014. Nicholas was going through a life transition at the time, having recently been “downsized” after thirty-eight years working as a manufacturing engineer. Then, he become aware of a local business that was for sale. The business, the Igloo Ice Cream Parlor, was a Chambersburg landmark that had been meeting the community’s cooling creamery needs for over fifty years.

Nicholas had always wanted to be in the food industry since he was a young boy, perhaps because his grandparents had owned the Texas Lunch in Shippensburg, and he harbored fond memories from time spent there in his early years. Nicholas saw the opportunity to become an “encore entrepreneur” and decided to pursue it. Having no previous experience with small businesses, Nicholas was uncertain where to turn for assistance until a loan officer at F&M Trust suggested that he contact the SBDC. Within two weeks of contacting the SBDC, Nicholas attended both the First and Second Step workshops offered at the Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce. These workshops provided an opportunity for him to meet with an SBDC business consultant.

Though not yet in a formal consulting engagement, Nicholas found the information provided by his consultant to be quite valuable. He notes that she “provided great insight and guidance that helped [him] to push through in the initial stages of getting started.” She raised many questions and concerns specific to owning and managing the business that Nicholas had not considered. He now understands from experience how critical such issues are to both the business’ success and his own potential satisfaction as a business owner.

Nicholas purchased the Igloo with initial financing provided by the former owner. Within a few months, however, Nicholas was ready to pursue traditional bank financing to fulfill his debt obligation. He reconnected with the SBDC and entered into a consulting engagement to develop a business plan to present to prospective lenders. The SBDC consultant that he had worked with before helped with the overall plan development, including customer demographics, local competition, and detailed financial projections for the business. Nicholas was successful in acquiring a loan to repay the previous owner, and he established a working line of credit with the bank at the same time.

During his first “season” of ownership, Nicholas utilized seventeen part-time employees, introduced a “flavor of the week,” and received very positive and highly visible attention from the local media. The Igloo had sales of almost eighty thousand dollars this first year, and Nicholas felt that he had “learned a lot.” He was appreciative of the support from the local community and for the technical assistance and personal support he found at the SBDC. Nicholas said that he “highly recommends the SBDC to other entrepreneurs who need help in making their business ideas a reality.” He considered the SBDC a “great resource” and was very appreciative for the assistance he received. Hopefully the community of Chambersburg will continue to enjoy the Igloo’s ice cream for years to come. Additionally, Nicholas’ relationship with his SBDC Consultant remains a source of information and support as business challenges arise. He even sends emails to her such as, “Better get the peanut butter today. This is the last day for it. If you can't make it by let me know and I will save you some. Again, thanks a lot for all the help.”