GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Summers in West Michigan mean spending time on the water. One couple is setting sail to bring families their favorite summer treats.
“A few years ago, I had a friend tell me about an ice cream boat and I had never heard of that before. I just loved that idea, and I thought what a fun job that would be. I got to a point in life (where) I was ready for a career change and I wanted a fun job, so I thought maybe instead of waiting until I retire to open an ice cream boat, we should just do it now,” Megan Ward, co-owner of Ice Cream Afloat, said.
She and her husband Isaiah Kinney recently moved from West Virginia to Michigan. Kinney had previously lived in West Michigan and knew that there were many lakes in the area, making it the perfect place to open the business.
Getting the ice cream boat started was “a long process” that involved a lot of learning, the pair said.
“We are not boating people, so this was a very big learning curve for us. Everything was new. Owning a business is new. Boating is new. It was a big learning curve, definitely,” Ward said.
Ice Cream Afloat hit the water for its inaugural season in mid-May and has visited a number of lakes since. The pair posts the lake of the day on the business’s Facebook page.
“We (also) use a tracking app called Glympse. Every day we go out, we post a new link that connects people to our exact location for that day,” Ward said.
Once on the water, Kinney said it sometimes takes a while for people to figure out what the pink and white striped boat is.
“At first it’s the confusion of, ‘Is that just a cute decorated boat?’ and then they see the flags and realize that we actually have ice cream,” he said.
“We do play classic ice cream truck music, (so it’s fun to see) how excited everyone gets when they get close enough to the boat to hear the music,” Ward said.
The ice cream boat serves classic prepackaged ice cream truck items, which can be purchased using cash or card. Anyone interested in buying ice cream while on the water is asked to flag down the boat if it’s moving. If the boat is anchored, customers are asked to pull up alongside to order.
“The hard part I think is when we are traveling through a wake area and a boat wants ice cream. Our process for that is going to be (to) let us know that you want ice cream and we will meet you in the closest no-wake area so that we can safely serve you,” Ward said.
Being the first summer for the ice cream boat, the pair says they’ve gotten a lot of requests to come to different lakes.
“Everyone has been very enthusiastic. I just love how happy everyone has been seeing us. That’s the best part, seeing how happy everyone is to see us and bringing a unique experience to people,” Ward said.
Ice Cream Afloat is planning on being on West Michigan lakes from Memorial Day through mid-September depending on the weather.