As the pandemic continues to shutter iconic institutions, the owners of Izzy’s Ice Cream are planning to sell their downtown Minneapolis headquarters.
While the owners plan to continue making ice cream, the location is too expensive for Izzy’s under the current conditions, co-owner Jeff Sommers said. He and his wife and business partner Lara Hammel have decided to put the 5,137-square-foot downtown Minneapolis building up for sale, after announcing the permanent closure of their original St. Paul location last month.
Leaving the St. Paul location entails selling the equipment in place, but they will be taking their ice cream machines with them once they sell the Minneapolis building.
“There's just not going to be revenue for a long time, for the setup that we laid out and planned for this facility,” Sommers said. “This is the kind of hit in terms of revenue that just really forced the hard questions about what kind of company we want to be.”
They’ve listed the property for $2.5 million. In the meantime, the owners are expanding their ability to distribute ice cream with their online shop. And while they’re still exploring multiple paths, Sommers said one of those is moving out of state.
“We could potentially have a distribution center of our ice cream out West, reducing the cost of those one-day shipments with a shipping partner,” he said.
Enacting proper social distancing over the summer, the best the Minneapolis shop could operate at is 20 percent of normal business.
“We have to reinvent ourselves in real time. And so that's why the measures that are being taken are being taken,” Sommers said.
In the coming weeks, they’re looking to begin shipping ice cream nationwide from online orders, and while they’re still selling wholesale ice cream, most of their revenue streams have completely halted.
“Imagine our business as a third of our revenues coming from St. Paul retail, a third coming from Minneapolis, and then the other third coming from grocery stores, restaurant food service, the Twins account, the Minnesota Wild account, and catering events––we're in a tough spot,” he said.
Sommers said they’d also like to see expansion in the grocery division of their distributors.
“Our company and many in the food space are making incredible sacrifices to the public health,” he said. “We don't really see a better way than to continue to do what we do, which is make great ice cream and work on the mission, what we can retain, and what we can keep.”
Though they received some money from the Paycheck Protection Program, the funds are to be used by the middle of June, after which they will be faced with making loan payments in addition to their other expenses, Sommers said.
“We'll be fighting as hard as the next business or enterprise to be saved and to make the revenue to pay the bills,” he said. “But we have to hang on right? I'm an ice cream guy, so we have to hang on to what's beautiful, and make that our focus.”