Mik Bushinski is pretty serious about ice hockey. And he's pretty serious about ice cream.
You can see him focusing on the latter each day during the summer. But you're more likely to hear him coming first.
During the school year Bushinski, 17, is a member of one of the top hockey teams at Shattuck-St. Mary's School, a preparatory academy in Faribault.
During the summer, he is owner and operator of Mik Mart Ice Cream, an ice cream truck business that caters to Woodbury residents.
The highly-decorated van equipped with speakers that play eight different jingles has beckoned children and parents alike in most, if not all, of Woodbury's neighborhoods and parks over the last two summers.
"It's pretty funny because I'll be driving through a neighborhood and I'll get half my business from kids who hear me when they're inside their homes," Bushinski said during a recent Friday route in the Stonemill Farms neighborhood. "They come running out with money, so I make sure to drive slow even if no one is outside right away."
Be your own boss
Bushinski hatched his business plan in early 2009, shortly after he got his driver's license. A little help from two uncles (in the form of a loan) allowed him to purchase all the necessary capital to get Mik Mart Ice Cream up and running.
The van, a couple freezers, decals, a music box and speaker and a power inverter to supply electricity to the freezers were the key ingredients, along with the frozen confection Bushinski gets from Twin Cities distributor Big Bell Ice Cream.
Mik Mart has been so successful in its first two summers in operation, that it has added another vehicle that Mik's parents, Scott and Kristi, drive to supplement the demand his ice cream truck has generated around town.
"It's been more than I think we could have imagined when Mik first started," Scott Bushinski said.
The very first evening Mik took his truck out into his local neighborhood, he made $72.
Last month, he brought his truck to Ojibway Park for the city's Fourth of July fireworks celebration and sold $1,000 in ice cream. The average cost of an item is $1.25 to $1.75.
"Times have changed," Scott Bushinski said. "It's amazing what you learn in basically a little over a year. Mik has been doing a great job."
Profits made from his business help offset the costs of his schooling at Shattuck-St. Mary's, where Bushinski played forward last year for the Midget AAA. He plans to compete again this fall as a senior.
So how did the hockey player find a money maker in ice cream truck vending? A brainstorm session with his mother, he said.
"I have a pretty busy schedule with school and hockey, so I was trying to find something where I could set my own hours and be my own boss," Bushinski said. "Everything's worked out way better than I thought it would."
So well in fact that Big Bell Ice Cream, which supplies ice cream to Mik Mart, recently started sending its own truck out to Woodbury more often than it has in the past.
Woodbury has been a community ripe for the ice cream truck vending business as it has grown over the years, Big Bell CEO James Freid said.
"It works out best to cater to those communities that have plenty of children and a growing population," said Freid, who has been in the ice cream truck vending business for more than two decades.
Freid said he started driving an ice cream truck as a summer job to raise money for a trip to Papua New Guinea. He later went into the business fulltime and bought the company he once worked for.
"It works out pretty well," Freid said about the seasonal industry. "It's a relatively short, intense season here in Minnesota, usually late April to early October. People love to hear that truck rolling down the street on a hot summer day"
Bushinski said he's attempted to add a more personal touch than sometimes associated with the ice cream man. He waves a lot, hands out business cards to everyone he sells ice cream to and even makes special deliveries.
"There's one little kid that calls me up every other day to make sure I'm gonna drive by his house," Bushinski said. "It's funny how many repeat customers you get on a weekly basis."
So what are some hottest sellers this summer? Kids love the Sonic the Hedgehog face on a stick. Parents like the standard fudge bar.
"There's pretty much something for everybody," Bushinski said.