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This article was published 22/4/2020 (358 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeggers are scooping up subscriptions to Chaeban’s new ice cream club.
The Osborne Street business launched its subscription program on Tuesday and saw more than 200 people sign up for a monthly delivery of artisan ice cream in less than 24-hours.
"I’m just overwhelmed on how many people subscribed, it’s unbelievable," owner Joseph Chaeban said. "I’m hoping this is going to save our business because if we didn’t do something like this we would definitely have to shut down."
Since closing the ice cream shop last month, Chaeban, his wife Zainab Ali and business partner Darryl Stewart have been brainstorming ways to keep revenue flowing. They settled on a subscription model instead of a delivery service in order to better forecast the business’s cash flow and cover expenses.
Customers can sign up online and the minimum cost of a subscription is $20 for two pints of ice cream a month with free delivery. The cost per pint decreases with larger orders. There are currently 15 ice creams to choose from and subscribers can change their flavour selections before every delivery.
It took three weeks to make the concept a reality, with most of that time spent sorting out the transaction process on Shopify, an e-commerce platform, and building a dedicated subscription website. They did a soft-launch for a small number customers two-weeks ago and Chaeban is surprised how smoothly everything has gone.
"I was astonished because you think only Amazon and those big companies can do this kind of stuff," he said. "We started delivering and it worked perfectly."
When it comes to delivery logistics, drivers will only leave frozen treats on doorsteps while customers are home and the ice cream will be kept cold in transit thanks to the wonders of dry ice.
"I’m not worried about the freezing part," Chaeban said with a laugh. "We’ve been using that for our cart in the summertime and it works really well, it can last about eight hours."
Delivery times will be determined by neighbourhood and the driver will call once they’ve made the ice cream drop to allow for a no-contact exchange.
Chaeban is excited to hit the road himself as part of the delivery team, which is made up of existing staff members. While the ice cream shop is open year round, the summer months are by far the most lucrative and it’s not uncommon to see a lineup of people out the door on a warm day.
"This is our season to work hard and I’m so eager to work," he said. "In the winter time we do run at a loss and what makes it up is the summertime... when this whole thing happened you can feel your heart like leaving your chest."
The shop hopes to add more menu items to the subscription program in the coming months, including cheese. Chaeban is a dairy scientist and a second-generation cheesemaker and he plans to use the manufacturing centre attached to the Osborne ice cream shop to start making in-house cheeses. He’s also considering bringing local businesses on board to offer a wider selection of products.
If it proves successful, the ice cream club will carry on post-pandemic. For now, Chaeban is looking forward to providing a sweet moment during strange times.
"We used to say if you come to our store we want to put a smile on your face, now we’ll come to your door and put the smile on your face," he said.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.