Rolling back the yearsBy Paul Robins
August 01, 2008
Jeffrey McCarthy hopes to peddle his way to a fortune by selling traditional ice cream on an old Victorian bicycle.
He has already proved a hit at fetes and parties and will be keeping people chilled out at the Reading Festival. He spoke to PAUL ROBINS about gearing up for the future.
The business: Jeff’s Ice Creams, Napier Road, Caversham, 07885 567044, firstname.lastname@example.org
The boss: Jeffrey McCarthy. He has worked as a print finisher for the past 13 years.
What’s your business about?
“I sell traditional ice creams from a distinctive red Victorian bicycle.
The bike has been specially designed to carry 24 tubs of four-litre ice cream.
“I cover the Reading and Newbury area doing fetes, private parties and community events. At the weekends I can be found in King’s Meadow park.
“I have applied for a full vendor’s licence from the council, and once that comes through I will be able to sell at every street and industrial area apart from the town centre.”
What ice creams do you sell?
"I do all the usual flavours; strawberry, mint choc chip, coffee crunch and three special sorbets.
“I only use traditional soft scoop ice cream from the New Forest – no packed stuff or lollies. I usually get through about eight or nine four litre tubs per week, although I always have plenty in stock.”
How did you start the business?
“I started the business in May this year. It took me a while to find the right bicycle. I even went to Rome to look for one, but in the end I had one specially designed for £2,800. It has a big umbrella on it and a fridge at the back.”
Where did the idea come from?
“It just came into my head one day. I realised that using a traditional bike and doing it the old fashioned way was something you don’t see anymore. It is also more environmentally friendly than using a petrol-guzzling van.
“A friend said he would have loved to have done it in his younger days, so I decided to go for it.”
Was it easy to get started?
“It’s been fine. The only issue has been with the council over fees – they are so expensive. I had to get all the equipment and then it was a case of approaching the council and sorting out the necessary insurance and criminal record checks.”
What events have you worked at?
“I’ve done fetes, car boot sales, family fun days in Victoria Park in Newbury, charity events at pubs, children’s parties, and a wedding reception in Deans Farm in Caversham.
“I was at Waterfest a few weeks ago as well. Basically anywhere where’s there’s people. I’m also booked to do the Waterways Festival for Newbury Council and the Reading Festival next month.”
How important is the weather to your business?
“The weather has a big effect. But saying that, it was miserable and grey at Waterfest yet I did really well. The hot weather helps, so I hope it remains sunny for a while.”
What’s the reaction from the public like?
“Fantastic. I was at an event at Lambs Lane School recently and the kids absolutely loved it. Everybody thinks the ice creams are terrific.
“As far as I’m aware I’m the only person doing this in the area. It’s fantastic because I get to meet so many different types of people.”
What are your plans for the future?
“The short term aim is to get another bicycle and cover more events. I would like to target places such as Caversham high street and cycle around businesses on the industrial estates.
“But eventually I want to take the business abroad where the all-round weather is ideal. I’m going to Barbados soon to find out how I would go about setting it up there.”