On April 14th, Wright State student, James Curlis, opened his family owned ice cream shop in his home town of Sydney, Ohio.
K&J’s Ice Cream Shop is located at 150 W Russell Rd in Sidney Ohio. You can also find them on social at Instagram, @kjsicecream.
“My mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa came together and decided to be the co-owners of K&J’s ice cream,” says Curlis. “Every weekend since January, I would drive up north to Sydney. Which is about 30 miles north from here, and do construction on the inside of the building and go to ice cream conventions.”
Curlis explained at an ice cream convention, there are a variety of distributors for both food and machinery.
“It felt like a job fair,” Curlis said. “I went from vendor to vendor, hearing what they were offering, how much their product was and where they were located.”
It was a dream of his mom’s to open an ice cream shop, and it was a dream of Curlis’s since he was young to be an entrepreneur.
“My mom always thought that it would be something fun to do, and I always wanted to be my own boss,” says Curlis.
Curlis says that working with family has been an extremely positive experience for him.
“We’re all close, even though I know a lot of people say ‘never work with family’ when it comes to running a business,” says Curlis. “It’s helped that my dad previously owned a pharmacy. I’ve grown up being around a business and business owners. He’s taught me a lot about how to manage and stuff. I don’t really view it as a family affair, I see it as a business affair.”
As a member of Student Government, a business service assistant in the Student Union, and as an intramural official for basketball, soccer and volleyball, Curlis balanced all of his extra curriculars on top of opening a business.
However, Curlis says that the most challenging part of it all wasn’t necessarily time management but setting up the store itself.
“Getting all of the machines in, making sure you pass state regulations, there’s a lot you have to get approved before you even open your doors,” says Curlis. “Everybody said ‘you’re opening the week you’re gonna be so busy, you aren’t gonna even know what to do’, but that wasn’t near as difficult as trying to make sure everything was prepped. I had never really worked in food, so this was all brand new to me.”