Ice-cream truck offers Dayton businesswoman a real treat
October 8, 2004
Margaret Forsythe slowed her ice-cream truck down to 5 mph and flicked a silver switch located above the large steering wheel. From the inside, it looked like she steered a giant pink boat through Dayton’s desert oasis.
One key to running a successful ice-cream truck business: Know where to find your customers.
Forsythe smiled devilishly – as much as one can while wearing shell-pink lipstick, a pink tank top and a pink princess cap – because she’s got an “in.” Her 14-year-old son, Justin, rides the bus and he told his mom where all the kids get dropped off.
The melodious ringing came out of the speakers and curved through the Sutro subdivision. She turned down Corral Drive and all else was still.
“I usually go up and down the streets real slow, otherwise you’ll miss them,” she said.
Forsythe has long blond hair and a bubble-gum smile. She extols the ice cream business as innocent, a pure business for pure hearts. Nothing gives her more joy than seeing a little girl in a lime green dress running up to the truck and screaming.
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But don’t let the kid-centered focus distract you. Forsythe is also a businesswoman. She is a real-estate investor, and aspires to buy another truck and hire a driver this spring. The ice-cream truck is her escape from stress, such as when tenants don’t pay their rent on time.
She passed neat green lawns and quaint single-family homes. A towhead boy wearing jeans and a long-sleeved blue-checkered shirt, walked across the street. He looked at the ice cream truck and ran into a house.
Forsythe can bring home a nice chunk of change in her 1976 ice-cream truck, which can reach speeds of 60 mph. In three days she makes about $500. That’s only working two hours a day. When the kids are back in school, like now, she’ll make about $200 a day. In the summer that’s $300 to $400 per day.
She bought the truck in March and named it Carousel Ice Cream, after the business where her friend, who recently died of breast cancer, worked as a teenager.
The key to success with your ice-cream truck: Consistency.
Forsythe rattled off the names of the housing subdivisions and streets she visits: Sutro, Occidental Grade and Dayton Valley Road. She said it’s important for the kids to know that you’ll be there. Forsythe tries to make the rounds every three days.
A mother is the first to approach the truck on Corral Drive. She handed Forsythe $7 and instructed her to supply a gaggle of blond-haired children with frozen treats. The children soon appear, one of them is the kid who sprinted across the street, his face smeared with chocolate pudding. Jacob Eade, 6, buys a Push Pop. Soon his face is also coated in pink sherbet.
Jacob said he likes ice cream because, “it’s good and it’s cold. And whenever you get hurt you can put it over your owie.”
Christine Eade, a 12-year-old with popsicle-pink lips, bought a sour Tear Jerker.
“I like these because I like sour stuff and they’re really sour,” Christine said, rubbing the toe of her Everlast sneakers into the concrete.
Forsythe offers a mixture of classic flavors and cartoon-shaped pops. Best sellers are Spiderman and SpongeBob SquarePants.
As the kids left, fingers wrapped around the wooden ice-cream sticks, Forsythe leaned out the window and told them she’ll be back on Sunday.
Her last day driving the ice-cream truck this year will be Halloween, but she’ll be back in the spring.
Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.