How I’m building my Arizona scoop shops

Last summer, Shawn Allard asked his parents a question that changed the trajectory of his career.

The Phoenix-based dental consultant wanted to find a job where he could express his creativity, be in charge and build a community, he says. In other words, he wanted to run a business. A broker sent him a listing: The founder of Novel Ice Cream, which owned two local scoop shops in Arizona, wanted to sell.

The parties agreed on a $1.1 million purchase price for Novel. Allard got a loan from the Small Business Administration to cover 90% of it, he says. He asked his parents for a separate loan, for the last 10%. They said yes.

“I went to my family and presented them [with] the opportunity to buy Novel Ice Cream,” says Allard. “They really liked the idea, and so they graciously put down the $110,000, which was 10% of the purchase price, to buy [it].”

Allard bought the scoop shops — located in Phoenix and Mesa, respectively — in August 2023. Novel broke even last year, bringing in roughly $1.2 million in annual revenue, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It. Allard anticipates profit margins between 3% and 5% this year, he says.

“I took home $0 in net income in 2023, and lived primarily off of savings, to reinvest back into the business. [This year] I will take home about $40,000 in net income,” he says. “I’m living way below my means so I can invest as much as possible back into my business.”

He’s also learning just how difficult running a business can be.

“On a day-to-day basis, this game is very stressful,” says Allard. “It’s hard, but that’s what comes with the territory … Wrapping your head around that reality is going to make your day-to-day a lot easier.”

Building a community reputation

Novel is perhaps most well-known for a bit of social media virality: You can get your ice cream stuffed between two glazed donuts or Belgian waffles, if you want. The stores aren’t big enough to house ice cream production, so Allard outsources that work to chefs in two different Arizona-based kitchens.

“Producing the amount of ice cream we do on a daily basis or weekly basis is a challenge due to how retail fluctuates week to week,” he says. “So we want to make sure that we’re prepared for upswings and downswings in volume.”

Shawn Allard, CEO of Arizona-based Novel Ice Cream.

CNBC Make It

Allard’s stores rotate their flavors regularly, and stay open late — until 1 a.m. two days per week, and midnight three days per week — helping them build reputations as family-friendly, late-night hangout spots during Arizona’s scorching summers, says Allard.

“We’re actually creating an exclusive flavor for a gentleman who [challenged] himself to come to Novel for 30 days straight,” he adds. “Ethan’s Creamy Surprise” has a coconut cream base with blueberries, marshmallows, halva and a chocolate drizzle — not a flavor for the weak-hearted.

‘Ninety-nine percent of the time, this is not glamorous’

Nearly a year in, Allard says running a business is more stressful than he anticipated. Being adaptable and making the best of every moment helps him remain positive and optimistic, he says.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, this is not glamorous. It’s hard and it’s stressful, and there’s a lot on the line, especially when you have debt involved.” says Allard. “When you’re trying to expand, when you’re putting all of the capital back into your business, it’s a challenge to look forward into the future and not get anxiety from the unknown.”

Allard pays roughly $15,000 per month to stay current on his SBA loan. He’s planning to pay his parents back with interest over the next five years, he says. His parents chip in beyond the loan, too: Allard’s dad Daryl, a construction project manager, is delivering supplies and materials for Novel’s third location, set to open later this year.

“A lot of the things that happen inside and outside of the shop would be extremely expensive if I didn’t have the support around me to help,” says Allard.

Allard, pictured alongside some of his employees.

CNBC Make It

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