THUNDER BAY, ONT. — Tim Albertson asked his nine-year-old daughter Bella what she wanted to do when she grew older.
“I figured I’d just throw in a little bit of a spark to see what kind of things are interesting to her,” said the country singer and owner of Albertson’s Lawn and Snow groundskeeping service.
“Out of everything that we’ve seen her do from gymnastics to running, she’s the most active girl in the universe. And yet, she said, ‘You know, I want to sell ice cream.’”
Albertson says, not only did she want to sell ice cream, she wanted her own ice cream business where some of the proceeds would be donated to “kittens and puppies” in rescue facilities.
Envisioning his childhood lemonade stand, Albertson figured, ‘how hard could this be?’ and set out to build an ice-cream stand for his girl.
With a plan in place, Albertson shopped for materials for the construction.
“I started looking at the price of lumber and for fence boards and right now it’s about $10 apiece. “I don’t have that kind of money so I started looking around and thought, ‘wait a minute. I live in the business area of Westfort,’” he said. “I started looking around and found a lot of pallets just sitting around for free. I happened to find one that was nine feet long and that became the base of the stand.”
From there he built the walls one pallet at a time and installed a door and a window frame. He filled up all the gaps with spray insulation to keep pests out.
“The next thing you know the whole thing came to be,” he said.
“Instead of working on the roof I just bought a tarp and nailed that to the top and I didn’t have to worry about having to crawl up there. So now I’ve got a roof over top of it and it looks redneck but it works.”
The real fun began with the painting stand.
“I chose the colour yellow for the front to symbolize sunshine. I wanted nothing but happiness when you walked up to it. The one side is blue for my son Samson and he painted it himself. They both blew me away with their ability to spray paint. It was incredible,” he said. “I think I took three cans of spray paint on the front to try and get it right when Samson announced that he was all done with only half can of spray paint.”
Making sure everything was in place, Albertson contacted the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and informed them that he was installing a freezer in the stand to sell prepackaged items.
He was given the green light with the condition they have hand sanitizer available at all times. A quick call to the City of Thunder Bay was made to check if they needed a business license.
“The city has waived a business fee for my daughter and my son to do this,” he said.
With the ice-cream stand up and running smoothly, Albertson posted six updates on Tik Tok where they received more than 60,000 views and caught the eye of Chapman’s Ice Cream.
“People started tagging Chapman’s Ice Cream, and I didn’t even realize it but subconsciously I bought about 75 per cent of Chapman’s product,” he said. “ Chapman’s reached out to my children and sent them a care package. So now my kids have Chapman’s visors, vests, socks, activity books, bandanas and coupons for ice cream.
“Not only do we have the building but now the kids look the part,” laughed Albertson.
Bella and Samson get to have only one ice-cream product at the “end of their shift” from the freezer that is always under lock and key when not supervised.
Albertson says his children are both on the autism spectrum and his daughter is particularly afraid of dogs after a bad experience.
“By doing this project together as a family, we are having people come over to talk and interact with my kids,” he said.
“The last two years of COVID really shook my kids and to have these people come over and say, ‘hi,’ and interact and have conversations, it’s really helping their social aspect as well. The best part is they bring their pets to the stand which gives Bella a chance to learn that she can face her fears by being able to have the puppies come over and she can actually pet them and give them a treat.”
Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal