By Rod Lee
Paul and Karen Weldon, owners of the Cold Stone Creamery store at the Shoppes at Blackstone Valley, sometimes find it hard to believe this is their fourteenth year in business.
The Weldon’s are among the original tenants of the complex, which sprawls atop a hill bordering the Worcester Providence Turnpike (Rt. 146) in Millbury.
They occupy Suite 420.
As enthusiastic about the enterprise now as they were in November of 2004, the Weldon’s took time Valentine’s Day afternoon to recall how it all began.
They never tire of telling the story.
“We were in California with two girls,” Paul said. “We went to the Cold Stone Creamery there every day. We loved it. We came back and learned that there was one franchise available here. We had to go to Boston to be interviewed. There were thirty people there. Each of us got a chance to speak.”
The Weldon’s familiarity with and fondness for Cold Stone Creamery helped them immeasurably in securing the go-ahead to locate a store in Millbury. Their store has been among the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company’s top performers for sales month-to-month almost every year since—ranking eighth this past September, ninth in October and fifteenth in the country in November.
This is remarkable, Mr. Weldon said, in noting that there are approximately a thousand Cold Stone Creamery stores in the nation and that some of these are situated in places with a distinct advantage when it comes to the amount of foot traffic they witness. Times Square, for instance. Disneyworld. And the Mall of America in Minnesota.
In their case, shops and restaurants in close proximity to Suite 420 provide an invaluable boost. The Cinema de Lux for example, but also Qdoba Mexican Grill, Uno Chicago Grill, Red Robin and American Eagle Outfitters. Qdoba is popular with the kids and American Eagle Outfitters is one of the Shoppes’ steadiest attractions for apparel.
“When there is an opening for a movie,” Cold Stone Creamery sees a corresponding spike in customer patronage, Mr. Weldon said. Which he expected to occur with the first showings of the much-anticipated “Black Panther” film.
Also, Mr. Weldon has more than thirty years with FedEx. “That’s how I get all my contacts!” he said. Karen Weldon was a court reporter (stenographer) for twenty-six years.
“We were nowhere near the food business!” she said, laughing.
Now owned by Kahala Brands, Cold Stone Creamery was co-founded in 1988 by Donald and Susan Sutherland with a first store in Tempe, Arizona—still in operation today at the southwest corner of McClintock and Southern in that city. Over the years Cold Stone Creamery has pushed beyond ice cream made fresh on the premises (with “mix-ins”), and cakes, to offer in some instances pies, cookie sandwiches, smoothies, shakes and iced or blended coffee drinks.
At Cold Stone Creamery in Millbury, eighteen varieties of ice cream and promotional flavors are on display and “fudge truffle” is front and center for February—as is “dark chocolate,” Ms. Weldon said.
Paul and Karen Weldon’s store is a testament to the parent company’s success in turning what had begun as a seasonal ice-cream business, to year-round.
They could not be happier.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.