Young entrepreneurs are opening funky ice cream shops to cater to a cool new crowd.
THESE young entrepreneurs have cool businesses. Literally.
At least three icy treat havens run by savvy young owners have opened in the past year, and they are targeting young customers hungry for new things, and with cash to burn.
The cold stops are Ice Cream Chefs in East Coast Road, which opened in June last year; Cold Rock Ice Creamery, which opened its first outlet in Holland Village last July; and Frolick, also in Holland Village, which opened its doors last month.
Business at all three outlets has been so good that they are already looking to expand.
Cold Rock Ice Creamery, a franchised outlet of the popular Australian ice cream chain, is run by friends May Chan and Lynn Ong, both 28.
Both were working in their respective family businesses, but decided to bring the chain here after visiting a Sydney branch and finding the concept novel.
They contacted Cold Rock and sent in a business proposal. After meeting the founder's son last March, they sealed the deal and had the shop up and running four months later, with financial help from their parents.
At their ice cream parlour, a customer can choose from 40 flavours of ice cream, including Peanut Butter, Honeycomb and Boysenberry, and 50 additions, ranging from candies flown in from Australia to frozen fruit.
The combination is then mixed and mashed together on a frozen granite slab and slapped into a cup. They sell about 200 cups a day.
Ice Cream Chefs has a similar concept, with 30 flavours of ice cream and as many 'mix-ins'.
Mr Darren Thang, 28, who graduated from the Queensland University of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering, partnered friend and schoolmate Jeremy Wee, also 28, to open the shop. They used their savings and money from their parents.
'Jeremy and I love dessert,' says Mr Thang. 'When we were studying in Australia, we would drive half an hour just to get it, so we thought it would be nice to open our own joint.'
He sells more than 100 cups of ice cream a day.
Going the frozen yogurt route is Frolick, with two flavours that change weekly. It is also reporting healthy sales figures of a few hundred cups a day.
The stand is literally a hole in the wall at Holland Village.
It is run by Mr John Tan, 25, who graduated from University College London with a degree in economics.
He used his savings and joined four former schoolmates to open the outlet last month, after seeing the frozen yogurt craze sweep across the West Coast of the United States.
'People here are open to new things, especially when it comes to dessert,' he says.
Aside from banking on fad-crazy Singaporeans, these three shops also have a definite youth-oriented vibe.
At Frolick, badges with slogans like 'We like it topless' are plastered on the wall and given out with every frozen yogurt purchase.
The owners even sell indie music albums, which they also play at the stand.
'Mix-ins' at Cold Rock and Ice Cream Chefs include sweets like chocolate bars and flavoured cereal, tailored to teenage tastebuds.
The entrepreneurs were also canny enough to locate their businesses near schools.
Holland Village is close to Anglo-Chinese School (International) and the United World College, while Ice Cream Chefs is located near Katong Convent, St Patrick's Secondary School and Victoria Junior College.
Other ice cream shops say the market for cold desserts here is big enough for newcomers.
Owner of five-year-old Island Creamery at Serene Centre, Mr Stanley Kwok, who is in his 50s, says: 'It's good for consumers as they have more choices. It appeals to a different segment of the ice cream market, so I don't think the normal market will be affected.'
Ms Melissa Phey, 32, who owns The Daily Scoop, which opened at Sunset Way four years ago, agrees.
She says: 'Singaporeans love our cold desserts and I've seen the interest go up over the last four years. Our ice cream focuses more on new flavours rather than toppings, so I don't think we'll be losing any customers.'
Older patrons also prefer to get their cold kicks elsewhere.
Mr Michael Thorpe, 44, an investment banker who was having dessert at the Haagen-Dazs cafe in Holland Village, says he is sticking to it.
'I think it's more for the younger crowd. I don't know anyone my age who likes gummy bears and all sorts of sweets in their already sugared-up ice cream,' he says of the new ice cream joints.
But this is precisely what appeals to fans like student Jason Tan, 17, who was savouring a scoop of Rocky Road ice cream mixed with marshmallows and Nerds candy at Cold Rock.
He says: 'I come here at least once a week. There are so many different combinations, and it's a new experience every time, rather than just having boring old chocolate and vanilla.'
This article was first published in The Sunday Times on Mar 16, 2008.
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