published Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Rock City acquires Clumpies Ice Cream

Rock City
Rock City
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Rock City has bought Chattanooga-based ice cream maker and retailer Clumpies, and the tourist attraction business plans to use its reach to scoop up more sales.

"We've got all kinds of ideas," said Susan Harris, president of See Rock City Inc. "We have opportunities to support and grow that brand."

Clumpies Ice Cream Co., started in 1999 by Chattanoogan Marshall Brock, has a retail location on Frazier Avenue and a production site on the city's Southside.

Harris said plans are to keep both sites and grow them.

"That's one of its distinctive characteristics," she said. "It's a unique Chattanooga-made product."

Brock, 41, part of the family that for many years operated Brock Candy Co. in Chattanooga, said Clumpies will benefit from new energy and an entity that can take the brand to another level.

"They can do something I haven't done with it," he said. "They have a strength I don't have."

Harris said she sees the chance of expanding the brand to sporting events, food trucks, and a variety of points of sale in Chattanooga.

"There's a lot of opportunity in Chattanooga with a growing and thriving market downtown," she said.

Harris said it's too early to say if See Rock City will take Clumpies outside of the Chattanooga area.

"It's premature to lay out any plans at this point," she said. Harris said Clumpies at one time had a retail store in Birmingham, Ala., as well as another shop in Hixson.

The See Rock City president said her company already operates a variety of businesses, in addition to Rock City Gardens on Lookout Mountain. The company runs Grandview, a wedding and event facility adjacent to Rock City, she said.

In addition, the business operates a Starbucks near Rock City, and it manages the Incline Railway's concessions and ticketing for CARTA.

Clumpies has about 10 employees, though that number rises during the warmer months, Harris said. Neither the seller or buyer would reveal Clumpies' annual revenues nor the sale price.

Brock said he initially had the idea for Clumpies from visiting an ice cream shop on Maryland's Eastern Shore. In the late 1990s, Chattanooga's North Shore and Frazier Avenue hadn't blossomed yet, he said.

"The North Shore needed something to happen," he said. "It wasn't happening."

Given his family history of candy making, Brock said the manufacturing component interested him as well.

He said Clumpies' sale is a mixture of excitement and sadness personally.

"I liken it to sending a child off to college," Brock said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423--757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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