If you spend any time on Facebook these days, you’ll know that people have been wondering when the concession will be open at the Discovery Pier.
“We’ll be open for sure for May long weekend,” says Jodi Boyd, executive director of the Campbell River Women’s Resource Centre, “but we’re hoping to open the window before that so we can warm up a little before we get hit with that mad rush for ice cream.”
The Women’s Centre took over the contract to operate the concession last spring, and Boyd says they learned a lot in their first season of operation that they will take with them into their second year.
“The first thing we learned is just how weather-based this business is,” she says with a laugh. “We’ll be backed up for miles on a sunny afternoon, and the next day there’ll be a little bit of drizzle or even just some clouds and we’ll have huge gaps between visitors.”
“The other thing we learned,” says concession manager Pam Verhaeghe, “is that Campbell River really loves its ice cream.”
Due to a lack of storage space at the beginning of the season last year, the organization was only able to stock eight varieties of ice cream. They soon realized that wasn’t going to cut it.
“We doubled our capacity as soon as we could,” Verhaeghe says, “and this year we’ll be opening with 20 flavours, and we’ll be heaping the cones just as high as ever, because people like ‘em big.”
Boyd says if all goes well on the bureaucratic side of things in the next couple of weeks, they will also be able to offer a few more items on the menu this year.
“We’re hoping to get a slush machine so we can make some fun slushies for those hot days, but it will really depend on whether we can get approval from VIHA to have it there,” Boyd says. “We’re waiting to hear about a few other things, too, but we’re not going to talk about them just yet, because we don’t want people to be disappointed if they’re not approved.”
One of the other lessons the crew learned, Verhaeghe says, is that it’s really not a good idea to set your hours according to what it says on the clock when you’re in this business.
“We’d say we’re open until 9 p.m. and then our staff wouldn’t be out of there until 10 because they’d still be serving the people who were in line,” she says. “We want to be open when the people want us to be open, and clearly if they’re still coming and getting in line at 9:30, we need to be open for them to do that. So this year we’re going to make our closing time ‘dusk,’ because it seemed like, in general, people stopped coming as soon as the sun went down, no matter what time that was.”
Boyd and Vehaeghe say they are active on their social media accounts and will continue to update the public there on how they are progressing in terms of opening day.
“We want to make sure that all the renovations are done, all our equipment is in place and we have enough supply before the window opens,” Boyd says.
The best way to know exactly when that is, Boyd says, is by following them on Facebook.
“But if that’s not your thing, maybe just pop down, because we might just be open sometime next week.”