By: Mariah Thomas, Aug 7, 2022 Independent Record, Helena, Montana
Sali Linden is going to be 12 next week, and she’s already managing a business.
With her two sisters Maggie and Evey, Sali’s been one of the faces behind the counter selling ice cream from Popcycle — an e-bike ice cream stand — all summer long.
“Our mom wanted a way for us to make money this summer, so we wanted to start a small business,” Sali said. “We thought about doing a food truck, but then we wanted something kids could do.”
So, Sali’s mom, Onawa, found Icicle Tricycles, a company selling custom vending bikes. Onawa, who owns Proof Marketing, came up with branding and helped the girls get started.
They order the ice cream from Butte, pack it into the cart and sell it all over town.
This summer’s biggest sellers include snow cones, cotton candy and character popsicles, like the cartoon character Sponge Bob or Sali’s favorite, Sonic the Hedgehog. The Sonic bar, Sali said, is blue raspberry flavored with gum balls in it.
Onawa said they also have fudge bars and used to sell the now discontinued “Choco Taco,” but adults like those flavors more than kids do.
The sisters don’t get the ice cream for free – Onawa said they pay for it at cost, too. They’re learning to manage their money and profits, she said.
The bike has been in the downtown area for most of the summer. Sali said local businesses downtown have been supportive.
“One time, we parked close to Birds and Beasleys, and they said we could park there anytime,” Sali said. She said the tour train, too, told them they were welcome to park there whenever they wanted.
The girls also make it to local events like Alive at Five, Helena’s recent pride weekend and Sali’s favorite, Symphony Under the Stars.
“We had a line of like 100 people that night,” Sali said. “We sold glow-in-the-dark stuff, and people were upset when we ran out!”
Onawa added that the cart’s been booked for private parties recently, too. The girls worked a birthday party and a wedding, she said.
Sali and her younger sister, Maggie, are the business’s faces. When they’re running the Popcycle, they’re dressed in red T-shirts and caps. They sell the ice cream, organize the inside of the cart, handle payments and dole out the ice cream, with a little help from their mom.
And their older sister, Evey, who’s going to be a sophomore at Helena High, runs the business’s books. Behind-the-scenes, Evey, Maggie and Sali also make cotton candy sold at the cart too.
The girls’ big goal for the summer is paying back the investment for the bike. Onawa said it cost $8,000, and the girls have managed to pay around $6,000 back so far. They’ve been making a profit of around $200 to $300 per event, and once they pay off the cart, the girls will make more cash.
When school starts, Sali said they won’t be working as much, since they’ll all be in the classroom and cold weather will come with the fall.
But, they plan to keep running Popcycle through Helena’s annual Fall Art Walk, which usually happens in November.
Evey said she’s learned a lot from working at Popcycle this summer, like how to function in a work environment and get along with other employees.
“It’s been fun to work with my sisters,” Evey said. “We get along pretty well, which is a change.”
Sali also said running Popcycle has taught her valuable lessons. She said she used to spend her money whenever she got it, but now she’s learned to save and manage her money. Right now, she’s saving for a pair of Air Pods, and is putting some of her money away for college too.
“I’m thinking about a marketing degree for college,” Sali said.
To book the Popcycle for an event, visit their website at https://www.coolpopcycle.com.
Read the story from the Independent Record HERE.
Mariah Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.