Thursday, October 02, 2008

Mt. Tom's Inc. turns 5!

Five years, wow. Time truly does fly. It was October 2nd, 2003 that I officially took over ownership from Carl the baker of one 'Sunrise Sweeties' candy store on Cottage Street in Easthampton, Massachusetts. I was fresh back from two years of walkabout and various forms of R&R after an abrupt ending to my first career as a supply chain process engineer. I don't need to rehash the whole story of my career metamorphosis, since you've probably already heard it eighteen times. And if not, you can read all about it here

When I started this new gig, I told myself '5 years', then see where I'm at. Give it your all - your heart, sweat, and soul. Then at five years, if you're still having fun and making a few bucks, keep it going. If it isn't one, the other, or both, you can always go back to engineering. Or try a new field, like Reiki or radiology. I'm happy to report, Mt. Tom's is a success, I'm still having fun (maybe working a little too much), making a few bucks, and I've put myself in a position to make people happy on a daily basis. No need to change course. Full steam ahead, mate.
Sure, it'd be great if I could find the perfect part-timer to assist with the operations, but we're still hopeful there too.

They say 95% of business fail within five years, so I feel pretty good about this little mile marker on the side of my entrepreneurial road. I remember those early days like they were last week. Putting together the business plan and pitching it to moneyman Mark Grumoli at Florence Savings. Closing the deal with Carl, and getting the keys to the castle. Meeting my first employee 'Betty'. Being the boss of Betty and trying not to let her see how little I really knew about retail in those early days. Heck, I'd never even stood behind a cash register before. I was truly 'faking it until I was making it' as a candy store owner and operator. Exciting times through uncharted territory.
As for the ice cream part, point the spotlight at my Dad.

Just about everything I know about the fine art of making and peddling ice cream I learned from him (of course Mom helped too, especially with the cake-making and bookkeeping). It was that time period from October 2nd, 2003 to November 27th that Sunrise Sweeties was transformed into what you now know as Mt. Tom's Homemade Ice Cream & Candy Store. Here's what the back room looked like back on October 2nd, '03, my first day in biz.

Enter my carpenter Uncle Jim, with sweat equity provided by Dad and me.

Before you could say 'health inspection', the new kitchen was born.
The first batch of homemade ice cream came out of the batch freezer the day after Thanksgiving in that year of 2003. I'd hoped to be up and running for Thanksgiving, close but no bubble gum cigar. I didn't want to change the name on the door until I was actually a homemade ice cream shop, so that first day of ice cream making also included scraping off the 'Sunrise Sweeties' logos from the front windows and replacing them with what you now see.
So why no 5 year anniversary party, giant sundae giveaway, press releases, fireworks displays, and giant sidewalk spotlights shooting into the sky?

The answer to that question is simple. Today is an important day for me in that it truly was the day I officially launched the ship into the great unknown. But it wasn't until November 28th, 2003 that Mt. Tom's was born. Not sure if I'll actually rent a giant spotlight, but I am definitely planning to commemorate it somehow. Details to follow, so let's stay in touch.

In the meantime, I'll just savor that five year mark since I started working for me.

As my buddy Mark aptly put it, my baby is now around kindergarden age. Plenty more growing to do, and I can't wait to see what she'll try next.

Thanks to Mark & Marissa Kosiba for the generous balloon display delivery. You guys are the best.


LT Garcia said...

Big congrat to you, Jim on reaching this milestone! As an Easthampton resident since 2002, a frequenter of your shop and a reader of your blog, I just have to say that I am really glad to hear you plan to stick around and keep things going. It is shops like yours that make or break a town and so many come and go in the blink of an eye that the state of small business can seem downright bleak at times. But your success has shown it is possible, and has really enriched and enhanced life in town for the residents. We love Mt. Tom's and look forward to many more years of great ice cream and candy and hanging out with friends on warm summer nights (and even not so warm winter nights!)

valleywriter said...

Congrats, Jim! Can't wait for another 5 (10, 20, 30?) years of yummy treats & great blog entries.

Jim Ingram said...

Thanks LT. Your comments mean a lot to me. Opening your own biz goes way beyond the $$, for the risk, the hours, the effort, it has to. To hear you say it all really does matter truly is the icing.

Jim Ingram said...

Thanks Valleywriter, and thanks again for the great review! If there's one thing I've learned, it's that word-of-mouth is everything, and people like you talking it up are why I'm still here doing what I do.

Anonymous said...

Babyface- Congrats on the 5th anniversary. No doubt after reading all the blog entries and Ice Cream Diaries that you would be a success! Keep up the good work and writing.


bronwen said...

Yay Jim! Congrats & best wishes for the next five years!