The Sky’s the Limit for the Ice Pop Businesses

When it’s hot outside there is nothing more satisfying than a Ice pops. They’ll cool you down like nothing else, plus they’re a really tasty treat. People in the Ice pops business make ice pops and sell them to customers from a retail shop, truck, wholesale, catering or a cart. 

 

Who would be good at this business?

This is the perfect business for anyone who enjoys ice pops and has fun experimenting in the kitchen. Making Ice pops is certainly not a hard endeavor, but creating new flavors takes a little creativity either purchasing recipes from Ice Pop University, researching on the internet, buying small batch recipe books, hiring a culinary expert or experimenting on your own. 

You can start part-time in the Ice pops business while still keeping your job because you can sell Ice pops at evening events and on the weekends. People still in school can be very successful at this business, just like Beau Shell.  Selling at schools is a great option for the business and often as a student you get special treatment where maybe outside vendors would not. 

Despite the questionable ingredients in most traditional popsicles its hard to imagine these treats going out of style. Enter the gourmet ice pop cart. No matter if you live in a big or small town you can find farmers markets or busy and lucrative locations to set up and sell your pops.

What is a typical day like in the Ice pops business?

When you are starting out small, the owner of a Ice pops business would be actually making the Ice pops and then selling them. When not taking care of these primary responsibilities, they would be marketing their business,  finding  for catering, wholesale or outside sales events, prospecting leads, ordering supplies and overseeing inventory, keeping the books, paying bills, confirming event and staff scheduling and cleaning up, just like every other food business owner. 

In addition, business owners spend time researching to come up with new flavors and then experimenting with these new concoctions. It’s a matter of trial-and-error because some new flavors will be great while others will be duds. A Zocu machine is a great way to experiment with new flavors before buying commercial equipments that can run you a few thousand dollars. Its a mini version that duplicates that same freezing time and quick process of the commercial high output machines so that you can see what you flavors taste like with the same consistency. 

What would be the target market for this business?

The perfect Ice pops customer would be someone with money to spend who loves cold treats. This person will likely want Ice pops for themselves and their kids and may be willing to spend more to try a gourmet Ice pops.  Most pops sold have a higher price point then traditional novelty pops because they focus on an artisanal handmade process, that often has organic or natural ingredients. So while its an impulse buy when people pass buy your store or cart, it’s a product that usually attracts more affluent buyers. 

Can a Ice pops business make good money?

Yes definitely! They can make good money selling their Ice pops to customers who pay retail prices. And some Ice pops business sell wholesale to local convenience shops and grocery stores. In fact, The Hyppo sells his Ice pops to more than 40 different stores that carry them.  The profit potential is amazing in this industry! With the average COG (cost of goods) being around .30-.90 cents and the suggested retail price being $3.00-$5.00 you can quickly do the math on what the possibilities are. Wholesale can have you moving thousands of pops a week, as well as catering events where event minimums are at least 100 pops for a 1 hour event, paid in advance so all you have to do is show up. 

How much growth potential is there in this type of business?  

Ice pops businesses that become successful typically start out small. Some have even grown into good-sized regional  and national brands and others have gone international. Good Pops started out with just one location, which was in Austin, Texas. The company, including its retail partners, has now grown to the point where it’s got several locations and it’s 4 pack of pops are sold in major retail chains around the US. 

Another success story involves the King of Pops who started selling Ice pops in an old ice cream pushcart. The company now boasts locations throughout the Southeast and East Coast and whole products with Whole Foods one of the largest  and most impressive healthy food chains in the US

Lastly, Popbar has gone national in their Ice pops business with outlets in cities throughout the United States and offers franchise opportunities. 

HOW TO GET STARTED

 

What kind of skills and/or experience is needed to become successful in the Ice pops business?

Knowing how to make great ice pops is only part of the process on the road to becoming a successful pop business, You need to learn the marketing and operations side as well, you can easily learn this by enrolling in one of our classes at Ice Pop University. Here you will get hands-on training in just one day plus additional training through a 2-hour video course. You can also take courses online through Finamac to get training making both Ice pops and ice cream. 

There are 55 Ice pops and shaved ice recipes in a book called People’s Pops if you want even more ideas once you’ve finished your course. People’s Pops will inspire your creativity in coming up with new flavors. Ice Pop University is the only training program that offers recipe book in commercial quantities. 

How much does it cost to open a Pop business?

There is a low barrier to entry to get into the business on a budget, You can open a Ice pops business with relatively little money with a budget of around $5,000 but if you want to quickly scale the business a budget of around $30,000 can get you started with commercial equipment and a production output of a few thousand pops per day. Stephen DiMare was able to start The Hyppo with money he saved up by working one ski season. With just a used pushcart and about two thousand dollars, when I launched Feverish Pops started in 2008. 

The biggest expense you’ll have starting up is getting commercial equipment and where you can sell your Ice pops. To keep your costs down you might want to rent a booth at your local farmer’s market. Otherwise, you can use a mobile cart and take that around to various locations. If you have access to more capital you can start out by leasing a storefront, launching a food truck or your own production kitchen.  Catering and Wholesale to me are where you will have the greatest financial success in this business

Get a List of commercial equipment and awesome vetted vendors here:

Ice pops business owners are also going to need ingredients for making Ice pops as well as the equipment. The ingredients will be things like various fruits and vegetables, milk, sugar, water and flavorings. Your equipment can range anywhere from inexpensive molds all the way up to costly automated production, freezing and wrapping machinery. 

Do you have any insider tips to jump-start the business?

The best move you can make is to find a location with tons of foot traffic.  Ball parks, theme parks, special event venues, schools, concert venues. TRAFFIC, TRAFFIC, TRAFFIC, DID I SAY TRAFFIC? The amount of people walking by everyday is far more important than the size of your storefront. For this very reason many business owners start out selling from a cart. Because carts take up very little space, renting a spot in an area with a lot of foot traffic is far more cost-effective.

HOW TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS

Marketing & Promoting Your Ice pops Business

Once you get settled in a high-traffic area the overwhelming majority of Ice pops customers will be people who walk by if you are street vending. Therefore, any advertising you do should be geared to attracting people nearby. The two best ways to do this is with signage and by handing out free samples which is great for your deformed pops that don't extract well. 

Getting Customers to Come Back for More

The best way to attract customers in the first place is to come up with creative flavors that are tasty and unique. The Hyppo offers more than 450 different flavors whereas the King of Pops has created nearly 500 most pop companies have between 20-100 different flavors in the early days. Creating new flavors is what makes the ice pop business so much fun especially now when so many people are foodies and wanting to share unique culinary experiences with their social media followers. When you’re always offering new and delicious flavors, people will come back to try them out and they’ll tell their friends and the word will spread.  

When to Start Building a Team

Most people who start a Ice pops business just work it themselves or have one other person. once to start to scale it’s really hard to do this as a solo operations,

  • Production
  • Admin/Sales/Distribution
  • Marketing

Here re the 3 areas that take up the majority of your time and you can not fall behind in these areas.  Once the business is rolling along and making money, you can start hiring workers. To stay in business it’s important that you not take on any additional people than necessary so that you can keep your overhead low. You would be amazed at how much you can accomplish on your own with maybe just one other person to help you. 

Want to learn how to get free staff for your pop business? Watch this video

 

LEGAL REGULATIONS & REQUIREMENTS

Local & State Requirements for Getting a Business License

You will need to get a business license to legally operate your Ice pops business. Please go to SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits or the business formation organization in your country to find out what the licensing requirements are in your state. 

Most businesses must collect sales tax on the products and/or services they sell.

For further information on local business permits and licenses:

You May Need a Certificate of Occupancy

If your Ice pops business is going to be located in a storefront you will likely need to obtain a legal Certificate of Occupancy (CO). This certifies that every building code has been met and that the location complies with zoning laws and all other governmental regulations. 

 If you are going to lease your location: 

  • It is typically the responsibility of the landlord to get the CO.
  • Before signing the lease, make sure your landlord already has the CO or can get one that applies to a Ice pops business. 
  • If your storefront will undergo renovations before you open, it is recommend that you state in the lease agreement that your lease payments won’t start until your landlord has obtained a valid CO. 

If you are going to build or buy your location

  • It will be your responsibility to obtain a valid CO from your local government. 
  • Make sure you understand all local building codes and zoning laws that apply to your location. You want your Ice pops business to be in full compliance so that you can get your CO. 

Regulations Regarding Food

Businesses selling food are required to get a license from their local health department, which means that your establishment will need to pass the required health inspection. To prepare for your health inspection you may want to read: Tips for faring well on a health inspections.

The federal government strictly regulates what you can and cannot add to food, what you can sell as food, and what you can process with food. Here is an excellent resource published by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration that discusses everything you need to know before you start a food business: How to Start a Food Business.

Obtaining a Liquor License

If you are planning to sell any alcoholic beverages or like most of us in the industry call it, boozy pops you will definitely require a liquor license in most states. Some consider them food products if they have less then 5% so you must check. To get this you will need to apply to the appropriate local or state agency. The Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau has compiled a comprehensive list of all the laws that apply by state. This list includes all the licenses required, the zoning laws, etc. You can access that list here. Depending on the state or country that you are in, some will allow you to produce if less then .5%

Limit Your Personal Liability

By structuring your Ice pops business so that it is a limited liability company (LLC) you can ensure that your personal assets remain protected should your business become the subject of a lawsuit. 

EARNINGS & PROFITS

How much are customers willing to pay for a Ice pops?

The Hyppo actually charges $3.75 for a single Ice pops. As long as you keep your prices under $5.00 they will be affordable to the public. The main thing is to offer unique and interesting flavors that people love and to provide great customer service. However some hotel and resorts that we sold to with Feverish would sell our pops by the pool for $10-$12. A friend of mine that has a cart at Disney world that sells gelato pops sells his pops for $8.00 each.

What ongoing expenses can I anticipate having?

Your ongoing expenses will be minimal to start but as with any business as you expand it will expand as well.. You will need to pay rent for your storefront or commissary kitchen and pay for your ingredients, supplies and monthly utilities and staff, marketing etc. 

How profitable can a Ice pops business actually be?

A successful well-run Ice pops business can make as much as tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. A truly aggressive business like The Hyppo makes 20,000 to 30,000 Ice pops each week. Since they sell them for $3.75 a piece, they are generating an income of $75,000 to $112.500 each week. This means that the company is making millions of dollars every year. 

What can be done to make the most profits?

By setting up a website for your Ice pops business you can market to customers outside your local area. By selling online you would be selling in bulk by the cooler full. For example, if you ordered online from King of Pops you would order coolers of 50 and 100 popsicles.

You can also increase your profits by booking events to cater, which is what companies like, Hyppo, Mom Pops, and King of Pops does as well by offering catering for groups of 25 to 2,500