Bringing smiles to the faces of young and old alike throughout the summer months is what this couple enjoys about their job.
George Sears and Angie Miller of Collins together own and operate Sacks Great Days Ice Cream and Novelties. Residents in the Story County area have likely heard the chime of the bell and carousel music emitting from the ice cream truck as it slowly makes its way down residential streets.
Angie began what would soon become her career in 2005, when she drove an ice cream truck for a friend in southern Iowa. When she moved to Ankeny in 2008 and purchased her first ice cream truck, she became the first person to have an ice cream truck in the city.
“It’s fun,” Angie said of the business. “It allows me to work for myself and stay home with the kids.”
Sacks Great Days offers 35 types of ice cream treats, as well as candy, cotton candy, pop and water. All of the ice cream is purchased from Blue Bunny, with the exception of four treats produced by Anderson Erickson Dairy. Angie said she chose these two distributors because she wanted to stick with Iowa-produced products. Specials are often run during the week, many of which are announced on the Sacks Great Days Facebook page. Angie will post a saying on their Facebook page, and any customer who recites the saying will receive a discount off their purchase.
The truck makes its way to communities throughout Story County and the surrounding area seven days a week. George said they have a set route they follow through each community and try to arrive in each community at the same time each time they visit. This is done not only so customers know when and where the truck will be when it comes to town, but also for the safety of patrons. Rather than kids having to run after the truck because it is going on a different street than it did the last time it came to town, George said, they are outside patiently waiting for the truck to make a stop along the set route.
“Nobody runs a truck like we do. We’re consistent with our days and times,” George said. “It’s important that it works for the customers and for us.”
The ice cream truck season begins as early as March and ends sometime in October. This year the couple began their routes at the end of April. While school is in sesson, routes begin around 3:30 p.m. and end around 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. When the school year concludes, Monday through Friday routes will begin earlier in the afternoon. Saturday routes run from 10 a.m. - 8:30 p.m., and Sunday routes last from 11:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Prior to selling any treats in a community, the couple always contacts the mayor and/or city council to get approval to have a route through the town. For some communities, a peddlers permit is required, in others, no such permit is needed. They also have a mobile food vending license.
While delivering ice cream treats and other goodies to young and old alike may seem like a fun job, George and Angie agreed that it is a lot of work. With routes scheduled each day of the week, including holidays, there is little time for social activities from March until October. Despite the amount of time and dedication required, George said seeing the faces of both young and old, alike, light up when see the truck makes the job enjoyable.
“It’s nice to put a smile on their face when they’ve had a bad day,” George said. “They’re glad to see you and it makes the job worthwhile.”
The couple plans on putting a second truck in operation to run routes in Ankeny Monday through Saturday, and in Grimes and Polk City on Sundays. They also are working on possibly adding kettle corn and other novelty treats to their menu. Keeping Sacks Great Days Ice Cream business running and continuing to bring smiles to people’s faces are what the couple plans on doing for a long time.
“When it’s no longer fun, we won’t do it,” George said.