Downtown Culpeper’s skinniest ground floor storefront is now serving up 18 different scrumptious flavors of Blue Bell brand ice cream, both hand-scooped and soft-serve, as another new local business has emerged optimistically in a pandemic.
Frosty’s, located next to the pocket park at 128 N. Main St., held a ribbon-cutting celebration last week at long last after officially opening in July following a few-months-long delay due to COVID-19.
The story behind why owner Michael Little wanted to open an ice cream shop is sweet and personal. The northern Virginia native who now calls Culpeper home said launching Frosty’s was tied to his ongoing fight with kidney disease.
“I opened it up to be an inspiration to my son, just to give him a push forward; you don’t have to give up, keep fighting. He came up with the idea of opening an ice cream store so I was like ok, let’s go with it,” Little said.
He formerly ran a moving company in Bristow before getting the diagnosis, which will eventually require a kidney transplant, hopefully soon, Little said. For now, “I feel good,” said the business owner.
Obstacles littered the track to Frosty’s as the public health crisis emerged six months ago just as the lease was signed.
“It is a scary time because we’ve been in the space since March but we couldn’t open until July,” said store manager and Little’s partner, Melissa Lodsun. “Some days are busier than others, I mean, it’s kind of a hard town to predict because we know Davis Street is busy … it’s hard to get the foot traffic on this side.”
Getting through the lull has required a positive attitude, she said: “Hoping that things were going to clear up and people were going to start venturing out and come enjoy ice cream.”
Little said they almost didn’t open.
“We stayed on hold for some months on end just thinking maybe it will pass, maybe go on away from here, but it stayed for a long time and when it started closing businesses down I’m just like oh my god, what are we going to do now?” he said of the pandemic.
Little decided to pull the trigger after receiving encouragement from the town and its people.
“I was asking around, what do you think, do you think I should do it, my neighbors, they was like, yeah! I think you should do it. We don’t have an ice cream place around here and it would be really nice. I was like, you sure?” he said. “If the town hadn’t told me to do it, I wouldn’t have because I feel like everything is shut down, closed, I really don’t want to open up. I think we should just cut our losses.”
Business at Frosty’s the past two months has been slow. Little added, “But we have enough faithful that’s coming on a regular basis that’s keeping us afloat.”
He chose to serve Blue Bell, founded in 1907 in Texas, after doing some research and as a fan of the brand. Little said Frosty’s is the only Blue Bell facility that sells the three-gallon ice cream in this region. The shop also sells sherbet, sundaes with all the toppings, shakes, hot dogs, candy, cotton candy and subs.
Jessica Jenkins, executive director of Culpeper Renaissance, Inc., the town’s Virginia Main Street Program, thanked everyone for taking the time to come out and support local downtown businesses.
“We just want to welcome you and say congratulations on your new business,” she told the shopkeepers. “You all have done an excellent job on the interior and exterior. I know that we are excited to have you.”
Withstanding a pandemic to open a new business shows the resiliency of downtown Culpeper, Jenkins said.
“Other downtowns are not in the position that we are. I think it shows that our locals truly support local businesses,” she said, mentioning a new sandwich shop just opened around the corner on Davis Street. “Our business owners are locals – they’re our friends, they’re our family members, and our community comes out to support one another.”
Located in a space 10-feet-wide by 90-feet-long, Frosty’s is situated next to the empty spot where the historic circa 1830s Levy’s building and Ritz Hi-Hat Restaurant once operated. The building was destroyed in the 2011 earthquake and razed. CRI developed the small park in the space it left.
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