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Montpelier’s youngest ice cream shop

Brandon Darmstadt, 19, opened up Arnie's Ice Cream in August after graduating from U-32 High School in East Montpelier in the spring of 2015.

By Danny Monahan

Small Business Administration

 

During the summer when most recent high school graduates are looking forward to going away to college, joining the military or taking some time off, a Middlesex teenager decided to start his own business in Montpelier.

Brandon Darmstadt, 19, opened up Arnie's Ice Cream in August after graduating from U-32 High School in East Montpelier in the spring of 2015.

Since grade school, Darmstadt said he’s had a bevy of business ideas and logos running through in his head, everything from a luxury resort to an armored vehicle company.

In 10th grade he got the idea of starting an ice cream business since Montpelier had not had a hard ice cream shop in several years. To make his idea a reality, he enrolled in U-32’s independent study program where he created a plan to start an ice cream shop.

“While in school, Brandon worked tirelessly from the fall of 2011 to the spring of 2015 to launch his small business,” said George Cook, Chairperson of the Department of Business Education at U-32. “He made his products better through trial and error, and he always took constructive feedback to make his products better.”

To learn about the ice cream industry, Darmstadt attended the Penn State University Ice Cream Short Course in Pennsylvania.

Darmstadt opened Arnie’s doors in August after obtaining a Small Business Administration 7(a) loan through Community National Bank. The 7(a) Loan Program is SBA’s primary program for helping start-up businesses. With the capital guaranteed by the SBA, he was able to make renovations and lease space on Gallison Hill Road. The loan also allowed him to purchase refrigerators, mixers and other items. The SBA does not make direct loans, but rather guarantees loans made by participating lenders.

“There are many students who have an entrepreneurial interest while they are young, but to my knowledge, this is one of Vermont's few students who may have actually launched a real live business, so shortly after graduation from High School,” said Cook.

It is a small operation. He makes three gallon batches at a time and makes about 24 gallons a day. It is sold throughout Montpelier at various restaurants. Arnie’s has a cart on Main Street in Montpelier during the summer and fall and plans to have it out in the spring as well.

It’s a very meticulous establishment. Shelves are well organized, floor shines, nothing is out of place and the tables and counters are clutter free.  He is a very professional in appearance. He dons proper culinary apparel, including a blue chef jacket and black chef pants. He feels because he is at work he needs to dress for it.

Darmstadt said sometimes it is tough being a small business owner because he’s so young, many do not take him serious or are hesitant about doing business with him. But on the flip side, many are intrigued a young man has such a strong entrepreneurial spirit they want to give him a chance.

“Some are pretty shocked when they come in here looking to speak with the owner and then I tell them ‘I am the owner,’” said Darmstadt.

He said his goal is to be as big as Ben & Jerry’s someday. Ben & Jerry’s received an SBA loan in 1979 and 1982, and was a former SBA Vermont Small Business Person of the Year.

In the next year Darmstadt wants to double production, double the number of stores selling his ice cream and bring on a full-time employee.

“The goal is to build a successful business; it’s not to live in a gold house. And I don’t want to be a behind the scenes guy. I want to be front and center,” said Darmstadt.

Company Name: 
Arnie's Ice Cream