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Cooling off Wisconsin one ice cream cone at a time

Pulaski couple take leap into entrepreneurship with ice cream truck

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August 10, 2023

PULASKI – Jenny Hanson and her husband said they have long dreamt of starting their own business, but with young kids at home, it wasn’t feasible.

That was until recently, when Hanson said everything fell into place.

“I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for eight years, and in the last five, I’ve been thinking a lot about doing something on my own instead of working for someone else,” she said. “It’s taken off a lot quicker than expected, but I couldn’t be more happy about it.”

Once Hanson knew she wanted to take the leap into small business ownership, the duo started looking for a place to open up shop.

“First, we looked at some different buildings in Pulaski, and then we decided to start looking for a food truck,” she said. “We happened to be in Wisconsin Dells, and this ice cream truck kind of fell into our lap.”

Hanson said she knew an ice cream truck was the perfect opportunity for her.

“Running an ice cream truck brings joy to everyone – young and old alike,” she said.

Hanson said the inspiration behind making the decision to start the ice cream truck goes back to the summer days of her childhood.

“When I was a little girl, I lived in Allouez, and every time we heard the ice cream truck playing its tunes, everyone got so excited, scrambling to look for change in their piggy banks,” she said. “I wanted to bring that joy to my community in Pulaski because there’s not a whole lot out here when it comes to ice cream or even food. It’s exciting to bring that into our small town and surrounding communities.”

Ups and downs
Though Handon said she loves to see the smiles The Cool Bus brings, the transition from being a stay-at-home mom to a business owner hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

“When we first bought the bus, we ran into some mechanical issues and that took a little wind out of our sails,” she said.

“There’s also been a learning curve when it comes to the different permits each city/town requires, but every obstacle we’ve run into, we overcame, and I think we’ve come out of it stronger.”

Jenny Hanson said the ice cream truck “just kind of fell into our lap.” Submitted Photo

Like many other businesses, Hanson said The Cool Bus has also encountered some issues with the supply chain.

“Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a lot of different ice creams being discontinued, like Heath Bars and the Choco Taco, which is a huge seller,” she said. “But, I’m hopeful everyone who is discontinuing their items is planning on coming out with something even better.”

Beyond the typical day-to-day business obstacles, Hanson has also struggled with work/life balance.

“It can certainly get busy and a little chaotic, managing my home life and the business, but our kids are old enough to help out and become little entrepreneurs,” she said.

Despite this being The Cool Bus’ first year in operation, Hanson said business has taken off quickly.

“I haven’t fully established my routes yet – I actually got booked for events much quicker than I expected,” she said. “A lot of times I’m out at birthday parties and private events, and I have some weddings booked, so most of my time has been put toward special events. But on certain days, if I have some free time, I do drive around my community. I’m hoping by next year, I’ll have those established.”

Everyone chips in
When The Cool Bus is running routes, Hanson said she always has at least one of her kids helping out.

“They’re my back eyes, so they can keep a lookout for any kids running out or bikes following us – we’ve even had cars follow us,” she said.

Hanson’s older children also help run the bus at events, like Blaser Acre’s Sunflower Festival.

Jenny Hanson said when The Cool Bus is running routes, she always has at least one of her kids helping out. Submitted Photo

“When we’re stationary, my 17-year-old and my 13-year-old like to run it themselves for a bit,” she said. “It’s been hands-on for the whole family, which is nice. It’s been fun to watch them be their own little business people.”

Hanson said she believes The Cool Bus’ success is in no small part due to the support she’s received from the community.

“Word of mouth is huge when it comes to starting a small business, and I’ve been lucky to have a great support system not only in my community of Pulaski but a lot of our surrounding areas too, like Seymour and Shawano,” she said

Overall, Hanson said she’s enjoyed her first two months operating The Cool Bus.

“My favorite part of running The Cool Bus is being able to bring joy to kids and the older crowd,” she said. “Small children aren’t always familiar with ice cream trucks, so to see their faces light up – it’s like they’re walking up to a small heaven because there are so many choices.”

As for the older crowd – Hanson said it brings back a lot of their childhood memories.

“And that’s rewarding,” she said.

Ice cream trucks may be harder and harder to come by, but Hanson said she’s determined to provide the Greater Green Bay community with sweet treats and smiles.

For more information, check out The Cool Bus’ Facebook page.

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