December 1, 2023

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Ultimate summer job? Seasonal businesses for sale

5 min read

Picture this. It’s one of those perfect summer days — hot but not muggy — you’re licking an ice cream cone, floating the Esopus in a tube, or maybe playing mini golf. You might find yourself thinking, Ah! This is the life!

Now what if those things you love become a full-time gig? A local ice cream stand and tube rental business on the Esopus are both currently for sale. Before you take the plunge and make a career change, here’s the scoop on what life is like running either business.

Lakeside Licks

Jennifer Marsh and her family have been the owners of Lakeside Licks in Highland (288 NY-299, Highland) since 2014. There’s no lake there; the name comes from the business’ original location near Lake Pleasant in the Adirondacks.

In January 2022, the family announced on Facebook that the business is for sale, although it hasn’t yet been listed formally with an agency. “I’m the oldest of four kids, and I’m the only one who actively works here,” says Marsh. The family wants to spend more time with the next generation of kids and less time scooping ice cream. “It’s time to move on.”

The business includes a building and almost 1 acre of property, equipment and inventory set-up for ice cream and food service, a doughnut shop, 18-hole mini golf course, two ice cream trailers, and an ice cream truck.

Lakeside Licks reopened for the 2022 season a few weeks ago. It will remain open until they pass the torch to new buyers. Generally speaking, the season opens slowly in April, with minimal days and hours. Later in the summer, they operate 7 days a week, often until 10 p.m.

The family has relied on local students as supplementary staff, so a new owner could reasonably expect to, too. “We have kids who have worked for us from high school to college. We have watched them change from teenager to full-blown adult and starting families.”

Customers are a mix. “It’s an interesting variety of people who come in.” There are loyal local families who arrive at 8 a.m. weekends for warm cake donuts and coffee, seasonal leaf peepers, people out for a weekend drive, and random customers on day trips from New York City.

There’s also a car club that hosts a “car cruise” event on-site on Thursday nights during which members drive over in new and vintage vehicles for car enthusiasts to enjoy while eating soft serve. “They have been with us for quite a few seasons.” Once a month the car club hosts a breakfast, too.

Lakeside Licks, a family-owned ice cream shop in Highland, includes a miniature golf course, donut shop and mobile ice cream truck as part of the sale of the business.

Lakeside Licks, a family-owned ice cream shop in Highland, includes a miniature golf course, donut shop and mobile ice cream truck as part of the sale of the business.

Jennifer Marsh

The ice cream truck and the mobile trailers provide steady event revenue, mostly through word of mouth. Marsh says she rarely advertises. “I have already had about 50 requests for this summer for different events.” These include weddings, park openings, street festivals, car dealership events, and fireworks.

While Marsh and her family close Lakeside Licks for the winter, customers still call asking for ice cream, so keeping the business open year-round could be an option. So far the announcement on Facebook has gotten interest from buyers in New York City as well as local people. “Lots of people just curious about pricing,” she says. They haven’t listed the property with a real estate broker, though they might in the future.

In terms of local competition, while there is plenty of ice cream nearby, a mini golf course is rare for the region. So are the custom “hole-in-one” donuts. Marsh says the donut recipe comes with purchase. “We get a bag mix from the company we bought the machine from. It’s nothing too crazy.” They do make their own glazes and use ice cream toppings on the donuts. She loves watching little kids’ faces light up when they want something crazy — and they get it. “It’s fun to let people pick and choose.”

Town Tinker Tube Rental

The Town Tinker Tube Rental business owner Harry Jameson estimates he's outfitted up to 20,000 tubers a year.

The Town Tinker Tube Rental business owner Harry Jameson estimates he’s outfitted up to 20,000 tubers a year.

Harry Jameson

Harry Jameson has operated Town Tinker Tube Rental in Phoenicia (10 Bridge St., Phoenicia) for 40 years, only missing the 2020 and 2021 summer seasons due to COVID-19; social distancing didn’t seem possible on the buses that bring tubers to and from the river. Now he’s retiring and looking for someone to take over the iconic Phoenicia spot known for bringing business to the area. He estimates he outfits up to 20,000 tubers a year.

The rental business is listed for $995,000 and includes tubes, life jackets, helmets and all the equipment that goes with it. The tubes are currently all packed away, Jameson estimates there are about 1,500 of them.

When you’re operating a tube rental shop, business on a summer Saturday largely depends on the weather. “I have suffered the effects of 40 years of weather. An optimal day is 85 to 90, clear forecast for the entire weekend, and then it’s circus time here,” says Jameson.

Weather permitting, tubers arrive, park in the lot (which, potential buyers should know, is large enough for money-making endeavors like flea markets or food trucks in colder months), and head to a counter to have their abilities assessed. “This is something we developed over the years; there are a lot of things that will preclude a person from doing this: heart conditions, back conditions, (being) diabetic, epileptic, pregnant, overweight, out of shape — things of that nature.”  

Next, tubers receive gear proportional to their size and are given safety information: how to ride, what to look out for, what to do in case you fall out. Finally, a bus takes them to a course to ride on their tubes.

The course has changed over the years. “There have been a lot of changes in the river. Every time we get a flood, things move around.” The last season Jameson operated, it was a mile and a half of river — a good mix of calm sections and exciting class two whitewater rapids.

Jameson will miss running the business and the customers he has known for years. “The Esopus Creek was my office for 40 years,” he says. Once, when he lived a mile upstream from the business, he would commute to work via tube. “A wake-up call and no need to shower.”

He’ll also miss the camaraderie of his staff. “Over the years I hired hundreds of local kids and mentored a lot of them. The good, the bad, the ugly.” Some went on to do great things — one is a genome cancer researcher. “I also had kids that went to jail,” he notes.

Tubing is a part of local history. Jameson recently saw an antique picture of a couple of local kids floating on a raft they built out of logs. “As long as the creek has been flowing, people have been floating down.” Jameson estimates he has sent a million people down the river in his four decades.

Jameson knows it will take a special person — or people — to take over Town Tinker. He has had some interest, but nothing concrete yet. He thinks a buyer should have a unique mix of money and business acumen. The right person also needs to be able to jump in the river with a chain saw and cut a tree and wrestle giant stuck root balls. | Newsphere by AF themes.