"We dream in ice cream," says Merrickville shop owner
Merrickville - Shelley Innes has her own special way to give joy to the world.
The owner of the Downtowne Ice Cream & Candy Shoppe says it all started after finding an ice cream maker at an equipment show 15 years ago.
"We never looked back," says Shelley. "It's been a lot of fun and allowed me to have a creative outlet."
Since then, Shelley has created hundreds of flavour combinations of ice cream and gelato. Many have become famous and staples at the 165 St. Lawrence Street shop where they also make onsite handmade truffles, chocolate bars, caramels and other treats using fair trade Belgian chocolate.
"A lot of our flavours have a history to them," she says. Top seller and shop staple "Hokey Pokey" was created after a couple returning from New Zealand told Shelley about enjoying divine chocolate and sponge toffee ice cream on the trip. Another made in Merrickville flavour incorporates Shelley's mom's peanut butter fudge.
"I think there's a flavour for everyone here," Shelley says. Ice creams and gelatos are lovingly made in small batches in the kitchen over the shop. Shelley takes pride in creating special blends for community events. During the annual car show in the village, she named her concoction Motor Oil and made beer-flavoured ice cream for Father's Day.
Local ingredients are used to support area farmers and makers, says Shelley. For example, one flavour incorporates award-winning butter tarts from Nana B's Bakery in Merrickville.
"These collaborations are a lot of fun," she says, adding it's a part of each flavour's story and a way to engage customers in how what they're tasting was developed.
"I really enjoy interacting with customers. They're here for a treat. They feel good coming in and they feel even better when they leave."
A visit to the shop is an experience in itself. "It's about taking the time with each and every individual. I think that's what brings people back - that and how we are constantly changing flavours," says Shelley.
She is also very proud of her staff. Many of her seasonal students have returned 4 and 5 years in a row. Husband Serge Massie is involved and their daughter Heather, an artist, designs the shop's marketing materials, including t-shirts proudly saying "Homemade in Merrickville." Heather also makes the gelato. She and Katherine Rannells look after production of treats.
For special occasions they can create custom handmade ice cream and gelato cakes. Vegan, dairy-free and diabetic-friendly options are available and made on site. The shop now offers new to-go tubs, including chocolate raspberry and spiced honey.
Story and photo courtesy of the Leeds Grenville Economic Development Office
For more information about starting, expanding or relocating a business to Ontario East, please CONTACT us.