Welcome back to our business spotlight feature, where this week we spoke with Holly Daigle, who runs Holly's Kona Ice.
Her mobile unit is similar to an ice cream truck, but instead offers shaved ice in various flavors. While from Pelham, Daigle services many of the communities in the area including Windham.
Here is our Q&A with Daigle:
Windham Patch: How long have you lived in this area and what is your favorite part of the business community?
Daigle: "I have lived in this area for over eight years now. I love the close 'knit-ness' of the small town and you know there is so many unique businesses and people are so willing to help each other. I've got to say that the response I've had to this Kona Ice business has just been outstanding and a lot of people are helping me along the way so that's fantastic.
Windham Patch: What made you want to pursue this business?
Daigle: I was really in a search for a business that I could include my children in. I've home-schooled my children for the last nine years. My oldest is in the first year of high school this year, my other three are still home here with me. I was really looking for a business that I could include them in a meaningful way, that they could really take part in, and that's how I came up with the Kona Ice franchise.
Windham Patch: Why do you think that a town like Windham works well for Kona Ice?
Daigle: Windham is the perfect community. There's lots of things going on. It's very family-centric, you know a lot of kid activities going on. With the business we're really going to focus in on fundraising and helping different groups raise money. Everybody is looking to raise money these days. The business expo last week was great because I had so many people talk to me from the Salem Boys and Girls club to the Windham High School Robotics team to the Booster club at the Windham High School.
So everyone is looking to raise money, so it's a really easy, fun fundraiser. A little quote that Kona Ice has: 'we put the fun back in fundraising.' It's really easy because it's totally self-contained so you're not looking for a bunch of parent volunteers or people to go buy food or refreshments at BJ's and sell it. I can pull up with that truck, we can serve hundreds of people in an hour and everybody is having a good time, and we can cut a check directly to whatever organization is sponsoring the event.
Windham is just a great community. (There's) so many things going on and people are supportive. People like to do business in town.
Windham Patch: Describe the family-run element to the business.
Daigle: I'm really out there making the contacts and driving the truck and my kids will be doing a good portion of operating it, running the events, serving people, making change – the whole bit.
Windham Patch: What's the biggest challenge of the business?
Daigle: The biggest challenge for me right now is scheduling, and you know I do home school so I've got to try to keep everything in check and make sure that the kids are still getting what they need as well as having a good experience with the business. I don't want to get them burned out or a bad taste in their mouth or anything. It's really scheduling (and) making sure that we've still got the time for their sports and their things as well as making a go of it with this.
Windham Patch: What's the best part of your job?
Daigle: Definitely being able to work with my kids. When I came across this; I've been working on this project since last June when I first came across this franchise. Just the ability to be able to work with the kids and really give them that business experience that I was looking for – that's by far the best thing.
Windham Patch: How important is it for residents to support their local business community?
Daigle: It's incredibly important, especially with the economic times the way that they are now. We've got to do everything that we can do to support our small, local businesses, because that's really what makes up our communities. We've all seen the big box stores move in. We've seen the small shops have to close up. I really think that takes away from the community. I can remember growing up as a kid and the local hardware store knew us. The pharmacist knew us. Everybody knew us in a small town. You kind of get away from that as the bigger businesses move in.