Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shed’s Hawaiian Shaved Ice and Come Back Hot Dogs

After many years of serving in the US military, Shed now operates a mobile shaved ice and hot dog concessions business full time out of Savannah, Georgia. Recently, I talked with Shed about his business and how he had settled on establishing a mobile concessions business. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation:

How many years have you been in business?

Shed: I’m in my second year now.

Why did you choose to go into the shaved ice business?

Shed: During my military service, I was stationed for awhile in Hawaii. While visiting a flea market, I saw a line of people waiting to be served at a shaved ice stand. I watched the operator and how long it took him to make each serving and noticed the amount of money he was charging for each serving. At that time, I thought it was a great idea. The main ingredient (ice) is cheap and total business overhead is low. I knew it just came down to selecting a good location. Once I had finished my military service, it was a no brainer on what I wanted to do and at that time, I chose to start my own shaved ice business.

Would you tell us a little about your equipment and where you operate?

Shed: I purchased two Snowie 3000 machines from I have one that is 12volt (DC) and the other one is an AC machine. The Snowie is a real workhorse – very powerful and reliable. I had some issues in the beginning as far as learning how to use the machine, but the problems were mainly my fault and not the fault of the machine. I operate my business from a small, single axle trailer that is large enough for two employees. I primarily set up at two main locations. I spend two weeks at Hunter Army Airfield and then two weeks over at Fort Stewart. I also occasionally work at family reunions, church events, and fairs too. When I want to find events, I use the Internet to search for them. I operate year round due to selling hot dogs, chips, and soda, as well as shaved ice.

What advice would you give to potential shaved ice business owners?

Shed: I’d tell them to do their homework as far as health department regulations are concerned. Here in Georgia, ice is considered a prepared food product. Even though I purchase ice and it is bagged, I still am treated like a full fledged food service provider. Because of this, I must have a commissary. I need to have access to a full kitchen, approved by the health department where I can prepare my equipment and clean up my equipment. In some cases, if you don’t have access to this type of facility, it can be expensive to obtain a facility that will meet the health department standards. At times, it can also be hard to get a commissary agreement in place with a local restaurant or kitchen. So, I would encourage them to find out what rules the health department in their area has and how they apply to shaved ice businesses.

What has been your best day as far as gross sales?

Shed: I did about $700 selling shaved ice only on July 4th, from 3pm to 11pm. I had a line all day long. I think we used about a dozen 20lb. bags of ice that day. I made about $400 profit that day, which was really nice.

How has helped your business?

Shed: I order about 95% of all the supplies I use for my business online using I’m 100% satisfied with their service to my business. Anytime I need something, I know I can call Gary and he’ll take care of my needs. They always have a quick response to any requests or problems that may come up. For example, I was having difficulty with my Snowie machines right after I ordered them. I was using up blades real fast and I knew I was doing something wrong. I called Gary and he worked with me to solve the problem. Gary also called the machine manufacturer and I was able to speak directly with the owner about my problem. After a couple of phone conversations, they helped me figure out what I was doing wrong.

Have you had any funny moments with customers or employees?

Shed: I always seem to have a few skeptical customers. I wear a t-shirt that has my company name on it and a lot of people don’t understand the last part of my company name, ‘Come Back Hot Dogs.’ I have a recipe for cooking my hot dogs which gives them a unique taste. Many times, I’ll have a skeptical customer who will order one hot dog and leave. However, usually within 15 minutes, they’ll ‘come back’ for another one! Even though I am a mobile vendor, I get to see a lot of the same customers over and over again. Often times, I’ll get phone calls from loyal customers wondering when I’m going to be back in their area again. I also enjoy watching kids (and the young at heart) get excited about ordering shaved ice. Often times I get comments from older folks who say having a cup of shaved ice brings back good memories for them. I enjoy that.

What’s your favorite shaved ice flavor?

Shed: I like to mix cherry, wild cherry and black cherry.

I want to thank Shed for talking about his business with me. From everyone at, we wish only the best for Shed and his business. We appreciate the opportunity to provide him with our products and services. By the way, if you’re down around Savannah…be sure you stop by his stand for a couple of hot dogs. Just save some room for a cool, refreshing cup of shaved ice too!

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