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Carousel’s Takes On Santa Monica!

As the proud new owner of a Carousel’s Soft Serve Icery food truck, our recent franchisee Chris Dougherty now has the huge business advantage of a minimal-risk, high-return storefront-on-wheels. His truck is a low upfront cash investment in his very own personalized asset—meaning rather than renovating someone else’s investment, such as real estate, Chris is building his own commodity without past wear-and-tear, one that provides a rare ROI within year one.

Best of all, the mobility of Chris’ storefront-on-wheels multiplies its profit potential. While brick-and-mortar retail depends on a neighborhood’s economic vitality to draw foot traffic, Chris is free to court not only the 100,000 plus residents of Santa Monica, but an additional 4 million potential customers in the nearby Los Angeles metro area. From public parks and pools to large shopping centers, there are surefire sales locations no matter where you live—you just have to know where to look.

For Chris, Santa Monica’s legendary boardwalk, fishing pier and amusement park add up to one huge, surefire business zone. The nearly 115-year old structures, deemed National Historic Landmarks by the US government (and said to be some of the most photographed places on earth!), also play host to high-profile concerts, craft souvenir shops and street performer competitions. The classic sights, delicious smells and one-of-a-kind nostalgia of Santa Monica’s beloved beachfront locale are the perfect match for the warmhearted, memory-filled spirit we at Carousel’s seek to promote and preserve with every ice we sell.

But Chris says it wasn’t just easy access to crowds that drew his interest in franchise involvement; the Carousel’s brand character played a large part in his decision to join the family. We seek to engage the fabric of every community we serve, and not only are schools, small businesses and churches great lanes of commerce, they are primary beneficiaries of our Carousel’s Cares philanthropy program, a long-term vision of our Founder & CEO Corey Curtyo. Chris explains that “being a community ambassador was a primary reason behind wanting to be a franchisee, and when speaking with Corey I felt an immediate sense of shared origin, experience and values.”

For us, that’s a mission accomplished, as it isn’t just smooth logistics and great brand personality we seek to offer—from the outset, we want all franchisees to feel like family. Chris adds that “The Carousel’s team were extremely welcoming, transparent and responsive to everything and anything I asked,” and that exploring his opportunity with Carousel’s involved much more than phone calls and emails.

“We did an initial two-day ‘discovery’ meeting, followed by a three-day ‘Carousel’s University’ a month later, where I met and connected with other franchisees. Having weeks of personal discussions and building relationships really helped in finally deciding to join the Carousel’s family.”

Launching a new business venture post-pandemic can be stressful for first-time and experienced business owners alike, though Chris affirms that simply knowing he could immediately offer a time-proven dessert that checks all the best boxes—tasty, refreshing and fun—eased any worries. To adapt an old saying, the proof is in the Soft-Serve Ice!

“After having tried Carousel’s, and while considering the franchisee opportunity, I made it a point to try pretty much try every ice cream and shaved ice place I passed on a cross-country road trip”, Chris explains. “After going through 31 different states, I’ve tried a large majority of what else is out there, and always come back to wanting more Carousel’s. So, it’s definitely what you call market research mixed with gut instinct!”

While our trademark taste is usually enough to earn us a Carousel’s convert, we often hear from owners and customers alike that their favorite Carousel’s moments involve the general enjoyment of life that surrounds our trucks. Chris found a special personal connection with our welcoming beachfront vibes, mentioning that “All things Carousel’s remind me of summers growing-up on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ…the entire truck experience is so authentic and fun…it channels my love for summers at the beach and really embodies the mantra, ‘cool treats, warm hearts’.”

After spending most of his career in the corporate world, Chris says his decision to leave the high-rises behind and enter into a very personal, street-level occupation came as a surprise to those close to him. “At first, the idea was perhaps seen as a temporary infatuation and premature mid-life crisis—ha! However, after hearing me out extensively about it—and getting the chance to try the product themselves— friends and family can see both my enthusiasm, and a great business opportunity, that they can much better understand and support.”

Ultimately, Chris says his decision to join the Carousel’s family wasn’t simply about sure profit, but rather our full-circle vision, and his desire to share the Carousel’s with his area. “It’s such a fun, unique business opportunity with a brand I feel connected to. It enables me to combine many different elements of work I find enjoyable, while presenting new challenges, rewards and opportunities to connect with my community in ways that my corporate role could never provide. It’s great to be back on the west coast and very excited to be introducing Carousel’s to SoCal!”

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