Sunday 18 August 2019

99s are a hard sell

ANOTHER BUSINESS that is obviously hugely affected by the bad weather is the ice cream trade.

That's something that Camolinbased Colm McDevitt knows better than most, as his livelihood depends on the success of eight ice cream vans he has on the road.

Colm set up his 'Mr Mac' business 34 years ago, and says this year has been the worst he has ever endured.

'We've never had as many days where we couldn't go out on the road,' he said. 'It's getting to the stage now where it's hardly worth it at all, with diesel prices the way they are. While we'd go around housing estates and people might pop out of their house in the cold to buy an ice cream, they won't come out and buy from the van in the rain and get wet, and unfortunately it has barely stopped for the last month or two.'

Events that would usually be a source of profit for Colm have now all but disappeared. 'I suppose a lot of the big shows that we would have done well at in the past have been cancelled,' he said. 'The likes of shows in Carnew, Bannow, Adamstown and Enniscorthy and vintage rallies around the county and the south east as a whole would have been great occasions in the past, but now a lot of them are being cancelled and a lot of the ones that do go ahead are not as profitable for us as they used to be, with the weather being so unpredictable, they don't get the crowds that they usually would.'

Another aspect that has all but dried up this year for Colm's ice cream vans is the trade at the beaches. 'I think we've had three days where we've set up at the beach this year and we have to pay for a permit to trade down there. It's just not worth it because people aren't getting to the beach.'

For Colm the next few weeks are more or less make or break for his year. If the weather can pick up then hopefully he can sell more and salvage something from the summer, but he doesn't hold out too much hope that the weather will change. 'July to August is peak season for us,' Colm said. 'Once the kids go back to school, it's too late for us. At the moment we have eight vans on the road, which means we have eight drivers and eight wages to pay. It's too many at the moment, but we don't want to let somebody go and then have the weather pick up again and have a van with no driver. So we're just trying to struggle on. It's a bit of a catch 22 situation really.'

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