Six years ago, entrepreneur Martine Cloutier had an idea to open up an ice cream shop. A meeting with her landlord, G.T. Soomal, allowed her idea to take off and become a reality.
“She came up with the idea, I came up with the site,” said Soomal.
Located behind the Petro-Canada along Highway 1 (of which Soomal is a co-owner), Big Cones is a small oasis from the chaos of the Trans-Canada. On Sunday, the sun was shining and the reggae tunes were blaring from the shop’s speaker system, giving travellers a nice respite from the grind of long-distance road trips.
Big Cones Ice Cream is in its sixth summer of operation. The shop opens from June to September, as long as the weather co-operates.
“When the sun shines and the highways on and everything is moving smoothly, then no complaints,” said Cloutier. “If it starts snowing in September and we’re looking for sun up here, well then we’ve got some complaints. But these are things that are out of your control in business and you go with it.”
Cloutier and her three part-time staffers offer a wide selection of flavours that rotate on a weekly basis.
“It’s really fun to make the orders and choose new stuff,” said Cloutier. “(The flavours rotate) all the time.”
The ice cream comes from Foothills Creamery, a Calgary-based company that has also opened operations in Kelowna and Edmonton. Cloutier receives one shipment of ice cream per week, sometimes two during the shop’s busiest weeks in July and August.
Despite the fact that it’s located outside of downtown, Cloutier feels that the shop has managed to bring in a lot of people from Golden through its rewards card that can earn loyal customers free cones. A few years ago, the shop started selling ice cream at select community events out of its small trailer called Mini Cones.
There is no denying that the shop’s biggest fans in Golden are also its youngest customers.
“Come April and May every year, the kids start to find me, ask me when I’m coming back. I’m famous with the young minds,” Coutier said, smiling.
Cloutier says the close proximity to Dairy Queen hasn’t affected business as the frozen treat giant offers soft ice cream and there is plenty of demand among customers for hard ice cream.
“People like what they like. Lots of people like DQ and lots of people like hard ice cream.”
Soomal is happy to see that Big Cones is having a lot of success.
“I’m happy for them. I like to help anyone who is a young entrepreneur. That’s what we need in this town, young entrepreneurs.”