|Posted by Lilly on March 31, 2012 at 8:50 AM|
One of the exciting pieces of putting my Italian Ice business together is finding an ice supplier. This is the time when I get to sample the great flavors and see which stand out and will make it up my leaderboard, so to speak.
Though it may not seem like one of the necessary first steps, surprisingly I have found that the diversity in the size and shapes of Italian Ice containers has been a contributing factor in my selection of cart. Some ice suppliers sell in 5-gallon round buckets (also called tubs or cans), while others sell in smaller 3- or 2.5-gallon round, and one uniquely and smartly uses 4-gallon square tubs that sit snugly together.
At any rate, the biggest factor for me is quality of the ice. I have to be able to love what I sell. It's the only way to ensure repeat customers, important to me since I'll be selling within and around my own community and not at a tourist-driven locale.
So, one day earlier this month, I trekked an hour and a half from my home to tour the Little Jimmy's facility in Elizabeth, NJ. I arrived at the scheduled time, but no one was there for me. Another ice cream vendor loading his truck ran inside the office and got me someone - the head honcho, Mr. Harry Moore, the owner.
He was wonderfully informative and willing to discuss all aspects of the business to a newbie. I got to see the cart they sell exclusively, a very lightweight and portable model which requires no refrigeration but, unfortunately, has no onboard sink, which I need to pass health inspection. And I also got to talk over my options for purchasing ice, since they do require that I buy a palette at a time and keep it in cold storage. But my home base has no cold storage within any reasonable distance. So Harry told me he would be able to house the ice for me at their location as a courtesy, and I would then be able to pick it up at my convenience. But with a 3-hour drive and over $24 in tolls, that wasn't going to work for me either.
It was a relief to see that this is most definitely a legitimate operation. Little Jimmy's does business under Jersey Ice Corporation and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Their ice, in my opinion, is a product almost worthy of the picking-it-up headache. It's a very refreshing, light and natural tasting concoction. My kids (Italian Ice connoisseurs) and I tasted classic lemon (a must in all the samplings), cherry, blue raspberry and mango (their bestseller). It scrapes nicely and has beautiful color. It is very well priced, sold in 5-gallon rounds. And if they had local distributors, it would probably be the product I'd choose to start selling. But the long drive, tolls, and wear and tear on my car to pick up small quantities of ice every two weeks outweighs the positives, as it will eat into my profits. So my search continues...