Teen entrepreneur takes a risk, opens Italian ice shop
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 12:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 12:50 p.m.
One brisk morning last February, Caroline Heddinger and her dad decided to drive up to Southport from Myrtle Beach to have lunch. Neither could have predicted how momentous an occasion that would turn out to be.
What: A water ice business
Where: Olde Southport Village Shoppes, 1102 N. Howe St.
Owner: Caroline Heddinger
Background: Graduated from Myrtle Beach High School in 2011
Contact: Call (843) 340-8310 to engage for an event.
After lunch, the two wandered around town, and discovered the “Olde Southport Village Shoppes.” They happened upon the owner, Phil Hemphill, who asked them if they were interested in leasing one of his buildings.
And at that moment Caroline had an epiphany. She suddenly knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life, or at least for the next several years. She would lease Hemphill’s vacant store and open an Italian ice store.
Phil Hemphill treats himself to one every day. “I am addicted to ’em,” he said. “They satisfy your thirst better than anything. Better than water, or soda, or iced tea, or anything.”
Caroline’s is a story of how the willingness to take risks, the wisdom to listen to more experienced small business owners, and the commitment to work hard can result in an 18-year-old high school graduate turning a profit in her first year of operation.
How did you get started in the Italian ice business?
It actually began about 15 years ago when my parents started a business to make water ice (better known as Italian ice). They called it Carolina Crush and distributed it to several resorts and hotels in the Grand Strand area. I was only five, yet I remember sitting at our kitchen table, taste-testing the ices and packaging them with my family. My parents also had a pool cleaning service, and when that took off, they gave up the Carolina Crush business.
How did you learn how to make water ice?
My parents held on to their recipes in the hope that someday we would start making it again. When this opportunity came up, they showed me how to make it. We use a special freeze machine to form the product’s smooth “creamy-like” consistency. I make it in 17 flavors, including sugar-free. And I do special flavors for special events, like the red, white, and blue Southport Sparkler for July 4th.
Why did you decide to open your store in Olde Southport Village instead of Myrtle Beach?
I have always loved coming to Southport. Then when my dad and I stumbled across the Olde Southport Village Shoppes, I immediately fell in love with its quaint, storybook appearance.
How were you able to get financing for your new business?
I don’t have any debt. I used all of my savings. I have been working for my parents, cleaning pools and keeping the books, since I was 14, and I have had other jobs too. I saved all that I made over the years.
Besides your store in Olde Southport Village, where else can customers buy Carolina Crush Water Ice?
I am often invited to bring my pushcart and sell at various public and private functions. I was asked by the movie crew for “Safe Haven” to be in the mock Fourth of July parade and sell my Southport Sparklers. I also sold Carolina Crushes at the recent St. James Military Appreciation Day picnic, and at the Southport Wooden Boat Show. And I am a regular at the Wednesday Southport Farmer’s Market.
What are your plans to expand your business?
I have talked with the athletic department at South Brunswick High School, and we are working out a deal where I will sell Carolina Crushes at their football games and give a portion of the profits to their Booster Club. And next spring, I plan to broaden my product line to include Hershey’s Ice Cream, just in case some customers prefer ice cream to water ice. For the latest news on upcoming events and special deals, you can follow me on Facebook.
Community News: 343-2364
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