College Creamery owners look to ‘pass the cone’
Summers filled with packing bags at the Village Market or supervising campers at the Wilton Y weren’t in Taylor Toll or Lindsey Wheeler’s plans when they came back from college after their freshman year in 2011. Instead, they pursued a more challenging and rigorous style of summer employment — purchasing and operating their own 1977 Chevrolet ice cream truck.
With their college graduations quickly approaching — and summers free to dedicate to ice cream soon disappearing — neither Ms. Toll nor Ms. Wheeler wants to see College Creamery leave the Wilton area. Within the next few months, Ms. Toll says, the pair are hoping to find another team of college students to take over their summertime business in 2014.
Of course, running the College Creamery truck isn’t a simple job.
“We set our own schedules, which is nice,” Ms. Toll said during a recent interview. “But, it takes a lot of work outside of normal hours, which can run from 11 a.m. to 10 at night. It’s a lot of our own initiative that goes into it. That’s different than a regular internship or a job.”
However, Ms. Toll said running an ice cream truck isn’t all hard work.
“It’s just so much fun. You get to drive around with your best friend all day,” she said with a laugh.
A single phone call spawned the idea of starting their own business around 2010, but Ms. Wheeler admitted that even she wasn’t sure whether the idea would get off the ground.
“It was pretty random. I always say that I just got this phone call from my friend Lindsey, and she said ‘I have this idea that we should start an ice cream truck business,’ and I thought that would be so awesome, but in the moment I was thinking, ‘is this really going to happen?’”
After finding a truck on Craigslist, and with the help of a former truck owner, that random idea came to fruition. The co-owners took out a loan from Ms. Wheeler’s parents, and the business idea took off.
Ms. Toll said much of their success is attributed to the fact that ice cream trucks are becoming less and less common across the area.
“Ice cream trucks were more popular in the past,” she said. “People in my parents’ generation always remember when the trucks would come to their neighborhood. That’s what’s good about our truck; people still remember that and now they can share it with their kids.”
On top of doing traditional ice cream truck rounds of sporting fields and suburban roads, College Creamery regularly caters to private parties across Fairfield County. Each summer the truck is constantly booked at everything from children’s birthday parties to corporate events to the annual Relay for Life.
By the end of this summer, Ms. Toll said, the truck and business will be available for new ownership.
“It’s going to be for sale at the end of the summer,” Ms. Toll said. “The business, not just the truck. I think it’s a great experience for someone going into college, especially if they are interested in studying business. We’ve actually gotten contacted by someone in Wisconsin who was really interested in the company. He wanted to start his own company, so we gave him some tips. It’s really cool to be an ‘expert’ on something.”
They’re hoping to keep the business in the Wilton area, however, as it has achieved a certain reputation throughout the town.
“We really want to keep it in Wilton, because we have the customer base, and the contacts here.” They also have a home delivery distributor, and community support here in town.
Though owning the truck isn’t going to pay anyone’s full tuition, Ms. Toll said it is a great way to supplement spending money while at school. It also provides a way for the owners to give back to the community.
“Our profit helps contribute to college expenses, but doesn’t pay full tuition at all. But, we also focus on giving a percentage of our proceeds to some sort of educational organization, because we both really value education,” Ms. Toll said.
Ms. Toll and Ms. Wheeler said that they will happily train the next owner in the operation of the truck near the end of the summer, so that next year, a new person can restart operation in a timely fashion.
For information on purchasing the business, call Ms. Toll at 203-807-0429, or visit collegecreamery.com.