Sno ball business is booming

July 10, 1999|By GREG SIMMONS

Take one Styrofoam cup, crush some ice, add your favorite flavored syrup, scoop on some "sea foam" and you've got a local summer treat called a sno ball.

Although 7-Eleven or Dairy Queen, which sell their own warm-weather treats, may not feel the economic impact of the neighborhood ice peddlers, city residents - adults and their children alike - make buying sno balls a part of their daily routines.

The 8- to 15-year-old crowd makes up the majority of the customer base in the local sno ball business, which consists of at least two stands, but no more than four, according to sno ball consumers.

Charles Bundy, 11, said he sometimes has five sno balls a day.

Darren Mundy, 14, and his friend Justin Gossard, 15, rode up to Mike and Judy Jones' Sno Ball stand on Madison Avenue and ordered root beer flavored sno balls. Mundy moved here from Virginia Beach, Va., last year. He said while there are similar treats there, "The sno balls aren't half as good though."


Less than half a mile away on Mitchell Avenue, Cathy Barr was using her new $400 ice shaver to make a some more sno balls when her daughter-in-law drove up with a new cash register.

"It's gotta be a right nice business, or I wouldn't be doing it. Especially in this weather," Barr said. She said she sells about 75 sno balls a night for 50 cents to a dollar a piece.

Barr said she and her husband, Chris, invested in the ice shaver because the work was too hard to do by hand.

"After the first night of scraping, I woke up the next morning and felt like I was going to have a heart attack," Chris Barr said.

Cathy Barr said sno ball stands have diminished through the years because it is so hard to find supplies. The hand scrapers are smaller and difficult to find. There aren't any local suppliers for syrup, and the ice crushing machines are expensive, she said.

Barr makes some of her own toppings, including "sea foam," a sweet caramel mousse-like topping, and orange and pineapple syrup.

Mike Jones said he sees his sno ball stand as more of a community outreach than a business. "I'm going into debt more than I can make any money," he said.

"There's a lot of times these kids come here and don't have the money. I go ahead and give them a sno ball," Jones said. "I'll tell them just pay me when you get the money."

Paying or non paying, though, the customers are happy. Valerie Crabill, 10, and her cousin, Mitchell Crabill, 8, had just paid for chocolate sno balls with marshmallow topping.

"They're good," Valerie Crabill said. Mitchell Crabill nodded his head in agreement.

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