Honesty has been the best policy for an award-winning organic ice-cream business which has found lockdown salvation in farm gate sales after its summer events programme was wiped out by the pandemic.
Chilly Cow ice cream,based in the Vale of Clwyd, set up a portable freezer and an honesty box at Stryt Faw, Llanychan, near Ruthin, and the results have been amazing with as many as 150 customers a day.
It has meant that a planned expansion of the business threatened by Covid-19 is now very much back on the agenda with a 20-foot container bought from Denbigh-based Container Sales Centre providing 1280 cubic feet of space for stylish new product packaging.
Anna Taylor, who set up Chilly Cow six years ago at the organic dairy farm her husband David runs with his parents, said: “The honesty box has been a real godsend because we had 33 summer events, from shows to weddings, in the diary and they’ve all been cancelled.
Anna, originally from Shropshire – she was actually born in her grandfather’s pub, The Three Pigeons at Nesscliffe, and brought up in Kinnerley, near Shrewsbury, added: “We just thought we’d give the honesty box a go and it’s been amazing how it has taken off with so many people on furlough and children off school so families have been out and about.
“A small tub is just £2 and people just find a nice spot nearby to enjoy them and carry on with their walk or cycle ride.
“We never close, we’re always open and although the events were cancelled we kept on supplying local shops, butchers and farm shops and their demand also rose because people wanted to support them and I think they also felt they deserved a bit of a treat at this difficult time.
“The public have also been amazing the way they have supported us and now we’re getting busy again with the wholesale side of the business as shops and restaurants re-open.”
The new container has also helped Chilly Cow gear up for growth, providing a new space for storage of their redesigned packaging instead of the cramped spare bedroom that also did duty as Anna’s office.
CSC sales consultant Lisa James said: “Containers are really versatile and ideal for so many different uses and we’re finding there has been a real surge in demand for them.
“It’s great to be able to help out a growing local business here in Denbighshire and elsewhere our containers have been used to house a flight simulator and even as an indoor coffee bar.
“We can arrange the delivery of containers up to 40 feet long and can also arrange to move units to different site locations.”
Container Sales Centre launched earlier this year and specialises in the sale of new and used shipping containers which range in sizer from 10-feet long up through 20-footers to 40-foot units, all eight feet high and eight feet wide, from 640 to 2,560 in cubic feet in volume.
The new units supplied are watertight and they can also be insulated plus they provide versatile storage options or for the more ambitious, a range of possible uses including office space and even as component parts of innovative new homes.
Chilly Cow employs two people full time and both were furloughed at the height of the pandemic but they have now returned to work and business is picking up again.
The other important partners involved are the 90 Brown Swiss cows which provide the organic milk with a very high dairy fat content which is ideal for making an extra creamy ice cream in over 20 flavours.
Only three per cent of Stryt Fawr’s milk goes to Chilly Cow – most of the rest is bought up by fast food giant McDonald’s who prize its organic credentials and creamy taste for their popular children’s range of Happy Meals.
The ice cream has also proved a useful way for parents to get their children out of the house, according to David: “Sometimes you’re here in the farmyard and you can hear the kids saying, ‘Are we there yet’ and lots of mums and dads have said the promise of an ice cream has literally got their kids on their bikes.
“There’s even a handy little seat just down the lane by Llanychan Church and some days there’s a queue to sit there.”
Lisa James said containers were proving popular with a range of businesses including farms and she added: “CSC supply a variety of containers including new wind and water tight, used wind and watertight and used in need of repair they vary in size and price depending on people’s needs and can be put to a range of practical uses.
“We offer the full range from brand new to used ones and buyers can fit them out to their own bespoke requirements.
“Basically they can do whatever they like within the space – some people insulate them and even fit windows to use them as an office. Others just want them as a simple and safe storage facility.
“An advantage of buying outright is that you can also paint the exterior to your own taste including having your company branding if you are launching your own business.”