An old nursery rhyme ends, "We all scream for ice cream!" It's a cry that is heard all around the state, and no shop heard that scream more loudly than Lake Country Crafts & Cones in Crosslake.
Recently named the No. 1 seller of Kemps ice cream in Minnesota, Lake Country Crafts & Cones scoops up 2,700 tubs of ice cream in one year. The tubs are three gallons each, so that multiplies to roughly 8,000 gallons of ice cream the store's employees scooped.
Pat Netko, the store's owner for the past 11 years, said the store's success is directly related to two things.
"We really have to thank our customers. They are the ones that made us number one. And the other large part of the puzzle is our friendly staff. I always make sure that everyone is wearing a smile at all times," Netko said.
Netko employs one year-round employee, Katie Demcho, whom Netko said is a huge part of the store's success, and 15 seasonal employees.
Despite the recent economic trend, Netko said this year's sales were better than last year's sales. People are looking for bargains and things that cost less than $20, she said.
"Ice cream and coffee are therapeutic. They're good for our sense of well-being," Netko said.
The craft side of the business is also holding its own, Netko said. The shop features the works of around 150 crafters, 70 percent of which is handmade by local artists. The crafters work on consignment, which is how Netko first got started with the business.
Mary and Alden Hardwick opened the store 27 years ago, and Netko had some of her work on consignment at the store before she even lived in Crosslake.
When Netko moved to the area, she started working for Mary, and eventually Mary asked her if she wanted to take over the business.
It was also while Mary and Alden owned the business that the tradition of putting a jelly bean in the bottom of the waffle cones started. Netko said she goes through 10 to 15 boxes filled with 30 pounds of jelly beans each year.
"There are families who come in and it's tradition that they all turn around while their ice cream is being scooped so then they can guess the color of the jelly bean at the bottom. It's fun to watch," Netko said.
Another tradition at Lake Country Crafts & Cones is the Doozie Club. A doozie is three scoops of ice cream on a waffle cone. If you order a doozie, you get your picture on the wall.
Although Netko said she could never eat a doozie, she remembers one time when a young man ate two doozies of Zanzibar Chocolate in less than one hour.
Netko is excited about being named the No. 1 seller of Kemps ice cream in the state, but she is also concerned about people's attitudes about shopping locally.
"People really need to start shopping locally and supporting the businesses in their own town. Business owners can help start that by referring people to other local businesses," Netko said.
Now that the winter season has arrived, Netko said they reduce the number of ice cream flavors at the counter from their summertime high of 36 because they want to keep the ice cream fresh.
But the tubs are opened year-round so you can still stop in for your favorite ice cream.
And what's the woman whose store has sold the most Kemps ice cream in the state's favorite flavor? French Silk Pie.
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