On the first few days of summer, two weeks ago, parts of Fort Mill sweated out the longest weekend of 2013 in 85-degree temperatures. Thanks to two local businesses, customers of all ages can beat the July heat with shaved ice treats.
The stories of Linda Jones and the Godlewski’s, C.J. and Erin, come from similar beginnings and end in the ultimate goal: to serve up frozen treats for Fort Mill residents.
Linda Jones has spent the past three decades as a cubicle jockey for several corporate worlds up and down the east coast. After just two months at the helm of Pelican’s Snoballs in Fort Mill, she says she can’t imagine ever returning to the “9 to 5” lifestyle.
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“Right after we opened, a mom came with two kids and one of the girls was eating an ice cream cone,” Jones said. “I gave her a taste of a Snoball and she throws her ice cream in the trash. I would have had a very hard time going back to a cubicle after that.”
Until recently, Jones says her location on Crossroads Plaza used to be a dead spot on people’s radars. That was before she had her building painted bright blue and pink.
Customers can also enjoy a game of cornhole, blow bubbles and relax in lounge chairs outside while they enjoy over a hundred flavors of shaved ice.
“I like our family atmosphere, that’s all our own doing,” Jones said. “People feel comfortable coming out here and that’s more fun than selling the product.”
With a local crew of high school age employees working the scoops, Jones says she’s planning on bringing out a disc jockey to entertain her customers each Saturday night.
Ice and entertainment in wheels
Six months after getting married in their home state of New Jersey, C.J. Godlewski and his wife, Erin, relocated to Fort Mill in May 2007, and say they immediately fell in love with the community. C.J. had a marketing background from his days in work after college and made a good income. He was successful at leading a team of salespeople for an Internet marketing company, but like Jones, felt like he needed a change of pace.
“So we looked at a lot of options, everything under the sun, for a new career choice and we kept coming back to Kona,” he said.
Kona Ice is a brand of “entertainment vehicles,” which offers shaved ice options on the go in a brightly painted, highly decorated mobile unit. Hawaiian calypso music serenades customers around images of “Kona the Penguin,” its mascot. Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Kona Ice as the No. 1 “New Franchise,” and ranked it 26th in the nation in the “Fastest Growing Franchise” category.
Godlewski had already bought in. He flew out to company headquarters in Florence, Ky., and drove back in his own whimsically painted truck to Fort Mill three days later on May 1.
He and Erin have entertained shaved ice lovers at schools, churches, parks, and a baseball diamond, among other opportunities. C.J. hopes to reach out to larger companies interested in hosting him and the truck in the near future. Through their company, they can offer to give back 20 to 25 percent of their revenue earned back to the people they cater to, which means more investment back into the community.
“Sixty days into it, we couldn’t expect it to go much better than it has been,” he said. “We’ve had terrific acceptance in the area and I know the kids love to come out to our truck with our Kona gear. It’s a great draw.”
C.J. and Erin’s daughter, Isabella, prefers the “Tiger’s Blood” flavor, one of ten that Kona offers. Their 2-year-old, Cooper, “takes whatever we give him,” says C.J.
To contact Kona Ice for booking information call 803-639-8830"