Ice pop cart operator says his wheeled business has legs

Ice pop cart operator says his wheeled business has legs

August 16th, 2011 by Carey O'Neil in Business Around the Region

John Baiyewu of the Pop Shop sells popsicles near the Waterhouse Pavilion at Miller Plaza.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

Name: The Pop Shop

Location: Frozen treats cart appearing at Fresh on Friday in Miller Plaza from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the Chattanooga Market on Sunday

Web site: www.thepopshop.us

Products: Sales and event catering of hand-crafted ice pops. The pops come in a variety of flavors including the more tame strawberry lemonade and the more extreme sweet cream corn.

Age: 15 months

Startup investment: More than $10,000

Target market: Everyone. Most of the Pop Shop's treats are gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan. In an attempt to make high-quality food available to everyone, Pop Shop co-founder John Baiyewu said the carts accept food stamps and EBT for their $2.50 pops.

Biggest hurdle: Managing the growing operation. The Pop Shop started as a one-cart operation appearing weekly at an Atlanta food market. It since has expanded to five carts operating in Atlanta and Chattanooga, and Baiyewu plans to make the Pop Shop a daily operation in the Scenic City. "It's about being able to adapt quickly," he said. "There's no blueprint to start a successful small popsicle company.

Biggest reward: Customer reactions to the recipes of Baiyewu and co-founder Ava Artis. "It's great to be out in the kitchen and working on creative recipes," he said. "It's great to be in the marketplace, which is more external, and be able to see people react and respond."

Lesson learned: Be prepared to succeed. Baiyewu said he was confident he had a quality product but didn't expect the pops to catch on as quickly as they did. "If you're going to jump in, take the plunge. Say I'm going to succeed," Baiyewu said. He advised trying to anticipate expansion requirements and costs, and giving customers a clear, consistent message to help make the business stick out in their minds.

-- Compiled by Carey O'Neil, who may be reached at coneil@timesfreepress.com