The new ice-cream man in town is a young woman, but don’t look for her in a three-wheeled cart blaring calliope music.
Bailey Scott, a 19-year-old freshman at Rocky Mountain College, will be driving a big sky-blue van with pink trim, and she’ll mostly be doing special events and private parties.
Scott, who graduated a year ago from Billings West High School, wanted to make money during college—she’s majoring in elementary education with an emphasis in physical education—but she wanted to work for herself. She said she started thinking about having her own ice cream truck as soon as she got her driver’s license.
“Me and my dad would always talk about it because I really love ice cream,” she said.
They looked at a few trucks, but all of them were way too expensive. Then, last summer, when Bailey got back home from Young Life camp, her dad, Patrick Scott, had a surprise for her. He’d found what he thought was the perfect vehicle.
It was a 1994 Utilimaster Aeromate van that he had seen parked at a heating and cooling business for a long time, apparently unused. It was used occasionally, as it turned out, but the business was willing to let it go, “and we got it pretty cheap,” Bailey said.
Various friends and relatives helped overhaul the van, but Bailey and her father put in the elbow grease needed to make it presentable.
“It was horrible, but we made it really cool,” Bailey said. “We just cleaned it to death.”
“We hauled the freezer all the way back in my dad’s truck, and it was huge,” Bailey said.
She picked out the color scheme and used on an online program to create her logo. Linoleum floors were installed and her uncle built a big steel frame to hold the stainless-steel freezer.
It was ready by the end of last July, and Bailey spent part of what was left of the summer driving city streets in search of customers, which is more or less the traditional M.O. for ice cream vendors. She didn’t have much luck with that, perhaps because the truck, as opposed to a cart, was not immediately recognizable.
In any case, she had much better luck working special events, as you can see on the Bailey’s Frozen Novelties Facebook page. She’s already worked a few more events this winter and spring, and she plans to stay busy all summer.
She is signed up to sell ice cream during the Josephine Crossing Summer Concert Series as well as the St. John’s Summer Concert Series. She also has two graduation parties lined up and appearances at a day care every other Friday, a baseball tournament on Mother’s Day and a Teacher Appreciation Day at Independent School.
And that’s all with word-of-mouth advertising. Bailey recently joined the Billings Chamber of Commerce, one perk of which was being given a package deal that involved filming a 30-second TV ad that will air 30 times. The spot was filmed Monday at the Josephine Crossing subdivision and will be airing on KSVI Channel 6. She’ll also be doing some radio ads.
She recently added a pushcart to the mix, for use at indoor events. She’s learning a lot about the nuts and bolts of owning a business—including a requirement that she purchase a separate business license for the pushcart.
She sells a variety of Wilcoxson’s made-in-Billings ice cream products, Blue Bunny frozen treats, Helados La Tapatia frozen fruit bars and Pepsi drinks.
The man in Utah who sold her the freezer has been talking with her about having Bailey be the Blue Bunny distributor for Eastern Montana, but Bailey figures she’s got plenty to deal with already. It’s a possibility for the future, though, as is the idea of expanding the number of trucks, depending on how popular Bailey’s Frozen Novelties become.
She’s doing most of the work herself, though her family helps out, as does a friend of Bailey’s who’s still in high school. Bailey’s mother, Kristi, said Bailey’s dad has been particularly willing to help, since he’s no longer coaching his daughter in softball or his son in baseball.
“What I’m saying is, he has a lot of time on his hands,” Kristi said.
Bailey doesn’t know how far her ice cream truck will take her, but she said she draws inspiration from her mentor in Utah, who once told her, “everybody makes fun of me because I’m the ice cream man, but I take off four months a year.”