Stillwater Gazette editor Alicia Lebens and reporter Kim Schneider are visiting local spots for cold treats for the Gazette’s summer ice cream podcast, “St. Croix Scoops.”
They’re not experts on ice cream — but they do enjoy it, so they sampled a variety of scoops from the Stillwater area (tough job, we know). While the St. Croix Valley has many options, this podcast will feature just a few of the many great places to grab a scoop of ice cream.
Each episode also features an interview with an owner of the shop we visit.
This week’s episode of “St. Croix Scoops” features Nita Mae’s Scoops in Marine on St. Croix.
Nita Mae’s Scoop
For this week’s episode, Alicia interviewed Nita Mae’s owner Cheryl Arcand.
Q: What is the history of Nita Mae’s?
A: This property went up for sale probably at the end of 2014, early 2015. My husband works at Cub. So when he heard that this was available, he was interested and we worked with the previous owners to purchase the property. And along with that included the ice cream shop in the back. It was been previously called the Village Scoop and the General Scoop. And when I bought it, I had always wanted to name it after my grandmother. She wanted to open up her own candy making store, but it never worked out for her for whatever reason. And so when we bought this place, I thought you know, it’s not a candy shop. But I thought that would be a nice way to honor my grandmother who had wanted to open her own business.
Q: I noticed that you have Cedar Crest ice cream.
A: It was Cedar Crest when we bought the business. We kept Cedar Crest for a season or two, and then I accidentally stumbled upon Chocolate Shoppe ice cream, which is based out of Madison, Wisconsin. And we had them in here I believe for two seasons. But they’re super premium ice cream, and between their product costs and shipping out here and me going through a second party, it became too expensive for me to sell the shop. Most people didn’t want to ... I couldn’t imagine them wanting to pay $5 for a scoop of ice cream, which is what I would need to do have sold it at you know, to meet all the expenses and overhead and stuff. So we switch back to Cedar Crest, which was also a really good ice cream.
Q: How much ice cream do you sell in a season?
A: In a season, I go through roughly 600 three gallon tubs or 1,800 gallons of ice cream in a season.
Q: Has the community been supportive?
A: If it wasn’t for the community, I probably would have run away in tears. We bought the business July 15, 2015. That’s what we signed all the paperwork. July 18, there was a major thunderstorm that rolled through and knocked out power. Thirteen hours later power came back. We lost ice cream. We lost products in our freezers, we lost so much product. And the next day somebody posted on Facebook the new owners just bought the business and now they’ve lost all this product, go down and buy something. And they did. Towns people they came down they buy a baseball hat. They don’t need a baseball hat. They buy cans of soup, they just bought anything to help us generate some revenue so it could replace the product that we had last. I can’t imagine any other community that would have done something like that where the people just reached out there. How can we help? What do you need? What can we do? We needed one of our freezers here replaced a few years ago because the other one was a 1960s freezer. And towns people contributed money to help us they help, we paid about half they don’t and about half the costs were able to get that freezer replaced. They’ve been so supportive and so phenomenal. I cannot imagine having this business without those customers, without that support.
Q: I was gonna ask about your cookie dough.
A: It’s a product that we could if we wanted to bake it into cookies. But it’s not made with eggs. You can add it on to vanilla ice cream and get a cookies and milk flavor. And we’ve just got a new soft server machine down there that we got about a week or so ago. That does a flavor burst. So edges ice cream in one of eight different flavors or up to three. So you could do like chocolate caramel, so we’ll see how that goes for us this year. And then we have Love ice cream out of North St. Paul, they make they make a lot of vegan flavors. So we have two or three, I think it’s three non dairy flavors and a couple of dairy containing but with no sugar added. So something we’ve been happy to offer to people if they can’t have lactose.
This week’s picks
Listen to the podcast to hear Kim and Alicia enjoy handpacked pints of Nita Mae’s ice cream. Here are this week’s selections:
Deep Dish Apple Pie
Apple Ice Cream with pie crust pieces and an apple swirl
Vanilla Ice Cream with cookie dough and Oreo pieces
Raw cookie dough made without eggs