I thought I would take you a little deeper into one of these favorite places and let you peek behind the curtains a bit.
If you haven’t tried the Dollar Cone yet, shame on you! I know it’s mid-Winter, but ice cream is for all seasons and if you aren’t convinced, they cater to you as well with coffee, hot chocolate, orange juice, croissants, delicious mega muffins and more, including scrumptious coffee cake I had this morning.
I recently had a chance to chat with Julie McNulty, the owner of Dollar Cone. Here is how she is making her dreams come true (and our dreams too for those of us who love inexpensive ice cream treats!)
Who are you? Tell us about you, your family, your background, where you are from, how you came to be here.
I am married with six children. Originally from Connecticut, I lived in Ireland for a few years. We relocated to the States and chose NC for its climate.
Humm…Ireland? You don’t sound Irish.
No, my husband’s parents are Irish and came to the States decades ago. My husband and I have always been wrapped up in the Irish culture with them and he wanted to go over there and live for a while.
So you packed up the kids and went? How was it and how long did you stay?
Yes, pretty much. We arrived 10 days before 9/11 and came back in July 2005. It was okay. My husband is in construction and the market was booming back then and once people in the industry accepted the “Yankee”, he did pretty well. I spent my time being a mom raising the kids and did some sewing for St. Patrick’s Church.
Interesting. So how did you go from sewing in Ireland to being the owner of my favorite ice cream shop? And are you making money selling dollar cones?
For over 20 years I’ve had a dream of owning an ice cream shop. I love soft serve and I love bargains- so I incorporated “the dollar thing” into business concept. Profit is all based on volume. Ice cream cones will always be a dollar, but we also have other items, such as shakes, sundaes and lots of other frozen treats.
You have a lot more than just dollar cones and other great sweet treats. Your place is like an art gallery. What’s up with that?
Artwork was not part of the initial plan, but I needed to fill “shop space” and I think it creates a nice atmosphere. It is a venue for local artist exposure. Artwork sales are suffering everywhere result of economy. Artists simply bring pieces in and there is a 30% commission for the shop. The prices are set by the artists.
What’s been your most surprising thing about this business?
I have grateful customers from every economic level. Everyone loves a bargain no matter how wealthy or poor.
What’s the biggest struggle? What’s the most rewarding, fun thing?
Burn out is the biggest struggle because it is 24/7. The most rewarding part is self-sufficiency. The fun part is generating consumer satisfaction from a simple product- at a great price.
Tell us about the live outdoor music that I’ve seen around here on weekend nights in the Spring and Summer.
Much of the live music is sponsored by Dockwood Music who gives lessons here and their students give free outdoor concerts usually on Saturday nights in the Spring and Summer. They will probably start again when it is warmer, but if any musician or band would like to play here anytime, on the weekends, during the week, whenever, all they need to do is let me know. I’d love to have them.
Well that sounds great. Listening to live outdoor music and eating dollar cones. What are your future plans? New ideas?
We now have a drive-thru coffee house open Monday through Friday from 6-9am where customers can buy coffee, hot chocolate, orange juice, muffins and croissants…
How’s it going with the drive-thru coffee house?
We’ve been open for 8 weeks now and I’m still waiting for it to catch on. It has to catch on. It’s a great idea. On Friday mornings for the next several weeks we are offering free coffee in the drive-thru to try to get the word out. We gave away 40 cups the first week.
Any other future plans?
Eventually we will have soup and sandwiches inside and mobile soft serve units that operate during peak seasons.
What is the one thing you would want to share with our readers?
Never lose sight of your dreams, even if it’s necessary to put them on hold.
Well that is good advice to end on. It reminds me of something I heard one time. We only fail when we give up and stop getting up.
So get up and head off to the Dollar Cone at 4021 Weddington Rd, Monroe, NC. Treat yourself to a drive-thru coffee and a huge homemade muffin in the mornings and a dollar cone on the way home. Toppings are free!
Please visit the Dollar Cone on Facebook.
She has lots of friends. You can be one too!