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Ice cream trucks, cones, and sundae cups may be summer staples, but there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy these delightful treats year-round — and that’s what has made them so easy to sell. The fact is, everyone loves a good scoop of ice cream, whether it’s classic comfort flavors like vanilla and chocolate or even bizarre new concoctions from novelty stores. Ice cream is a commodity that will sell itself, but edging out the competition still requires some creative marketing.

While ice cream tubs and pints stack up in novelty freezers lining the frozen food aisles of grocery stores, ice cream shops specialize in delivering a novel experience with their interiors and artisanal flavors. It’s this ambiance that sets ice cream shops apart from busy grocery stores and allows customers to peruse and even taste different flavors from display coolers and novelty freezers.

Your job is to create this experience so well that customers are willing to line up outside just for a scoop. Here’s a complete guide to bringing more customers into your ice cream shop.


Yes, you’re already selling delicious cones, cups, and even pints to-go at your ice cream shop, but there’s a lot more you can sell. Give customers more reasons to come back — even if they have to line up — by upselling and cross-selling other products. You don’t have to come up with an entirely separate menu for other frozen treats like milkshakes or dessert items like cake.

Start small with order add-ons like toppings and specialty cones. Customers are more likely to respond to direct asks, so don’t be afraid to ask if they want to add toppings or upgrade to a different cone. Depending on your ice cream shop’s size and kitchen capacity, you can expand the menu later on to sell other snacks and treats that go well with a scoop of ice cream.


Every ice cream lover has their go-to, classic comfort flavor. Chocolate and vanilla are some of these favorites, but you need to get bold if you want to stand out from the rest of the market.

Not sure how customers will respond to an all-novelty flavors ice cream shop? Start by offering variations or unique spins on classic flavors, then slowly introduce completely new and bold ones.

By the time you do, customers won’t be scratching their heads or leaving their spot in line, no matter how bizarre these new flavors are. You will already have captured their interest, and they will trust you enough to know that you only sell good ice cream. They will even appreciate your bold and exotic take and ability to craft new flavors that make this classic treat even more delightful in every scoop.


Customers love something that creates a buzz or makes a splash — and ice cream is one of the most marketable goods for fun gimmicks. Anyone would love to win a free scoop or sample a unique new flavor; their excitement guarantees skyrocketing sales. All it takes is the perfect gimmick.

Gimmicks for ice cream shops can range from freebies when customers enter a contest, like posting on their Instagram account and tagging your shop, or even ones that don’t promise freebies but change up your store’s ambiance.

Add some decor to your novelty freezer, and make sure it’s illuminated brightly, so each flavor looks even more enticing. Keep each flavor separate inside a novelty freezer, and put clear labels so customers can request samples before deciding on their favorite scoop.

Major ice cream lovers won’t be able to resist the draw of discounted prices on multiple scoops and will come back to try other flavors they missed out on the first time.

You could also try a giant ice cream sign or standee outside your store. Or start offering healthy alternatives, like lactose-free ice cream flavors, so health-conscious customers won’t feel guilty when indulging in this delicious treat.


As a new small business, it might not seem like you’re in the position to hand out freebies when you need to be selling a lot of inventory to recoup your capital investment. But giving out cones and pints at these well-attended, crowd-drawing events will pay for themselves in no time.

Local concerts, fairs, and other community events tend to draw a lot of foot traffic, all of whom are eager to make memories and have a good time. Delicious ice cream will play a massive part in putting smiles on their faces. Plus, a lot of tight-knit communities love to support local, homegrown brands, so they’ll be more than happy to sample your delicious treats, buy a few cones or pints, and even head over to your ice cream shop for more.

All you need to do is come prepared — bring a portable novelty freezer to market your best-sellers, and make sure you have signs and flyers, so potential customers know where to find the best ice cream and will remember your name.


Pop-up events are everywhere — they’re fun and exciting, and customers respond well to them because they promise exclusive offers for a limited amount of time before moving on to the next event in another store or even another area. For ice cream shop owners, pop-up events are a great way to branch out and expand their market area without an added start-up cost.

You’ll be surprised at how many grocery stores and retailers welcome these partnership events. Simply set up a small tasting bar by the entrance or in the frozen section right next to novelty freezers where your products are prominently placed, and compete with long-standing best-sellers directly, thanks to your in-store presence.

Customers can stop to chat, ask questions, sample a few flavors, and reach for a tub in novelty freezers as they shop. You can even get them to try new flavors and ask for feedback, so you can decide whether these can be added to your regular menu.

With the right event marketing, store ambiance, and warm customer service, you can easily invite more customers to check out your ice cream shop.

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