Iowa West Coast Initiative Feature: Carroll Street Treats

BUSINESS OWNER: Reece, Liam, Ayda, Blake, Nora, and Evan Vander Zee
BUSINESS NAME: Carroll Street Treats
MAIN PRODUCTS/SERVICES:  Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
LOCATION:  Rock Rapids, IA
WEBSITE:  Find us on Facebook/Instagram

Short description of your business:

Carroll Street Treats is a 100% kid-owned business. We specialize in distributing the best homemade ice cream sandwiches in the tri-state area. We offer nine different flavor options, packing each homemade cookie combination with mounds of hand-scooped ice cream.

What motivated you to start your business? What drives you each day? 

The vision of Carroll Street Treats started from a curbside ice cream sandwich stand in the summer of 2013 when CEO, Reece Vander Zee, was eight years old. The initial motivation was to share our favorite family treat with our small-town community. What drives us daily is how God continues to use this “for-purpose” ministry to share love and connection through ice cream.

What’s unique about your business?

The unique thing about Carroll Street Treats is that it’s a sibling-owned business, and each sibling has a role in production, marketing, and finance.

A 100% kid-owned entity that operates on a large scale is something that makes us very proud.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as you’ve grown your business?

The biggest challenge has been staying ahead of the growth. With each passing year, each employee (sibling) has also grown in maturity and capacity, so we’ve been lucky to grow with the business, literally.

What has been your greatest reward? 

The greatest reward has been how our success has allowed us to pay it forward to our community. The value of stewardship is essential to our vision statement. We have gotten to do some really cool things for our community.

How have you benefited from the startup community in Sioux City and the region? What resources did you use?

We are grateful for the exposure and experience we gained participating in The Big Challenge. Our second-place earnings helped us reach another business goal of purchasing a traveling treat trailer to take to local events. The experience of preparing a sales pitch and making a promotional video was great  for our whole crew.

Why is it important for the community to support startups and small businesses? What more can be done to help them?

We are so thankful for the support from our local community and beyond. The success of smaller-scale businesses is a direct result of people who are willing to trust and be intentional with their support of a unique product and organic mission. We try to make sure our customers know how much we value them too.

What is one thing you know now that you wish you had known when starting your business?

The most efficient way to mass produce a product that we value is homemade and fresh. It’s been a learning curve, but we’ve got a great system now that is duplicatable and sustainable to match growth.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business?

Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. Growing slowly is still growing. Serve others with their best interest in mind, and your bottom line reflects your service. Continue to show up with a grateful heart, keep your vision filled with faith, love, and trust that God is ahead.

How can the community continue to help your business?

We currently have 16 wholesale partners in the tri-state area and are always open to other opportunities. We also are excited about the edition of our mobile food unit this spring, so if you’re looking for a fun addition to your summer festivities, we’d love to serve you!

What are some future goals for your company?

Future goals are to establish a consistent events calendar with our mobile food unit, add additional employees, expand our wholesale partner reach, and continue to follow where the Lord leads.

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