BOZEMAN, Mont. - While the coronavirus pandemic is forcing some businesses to close their doors for good and others struggling to stay open, one business in southwest Montana is expanding.
If you've got a sweet tooth and you live in Bozeman, you're probably familiar with Genuine Ice Cream, a mainstay on Main Street for the last few years. In a sweet local success story, they've recently opened a second location.
Genuine Ice Cream's Main Street trailer - which is only open a few months of the year - is a summer staple for many in Bozeman. It's not uncommon to see a line all the way down the street as residents and tourists alike wait for a scoop.
The company is pure Bozeman, making their own ice cream in small batches right in the Gallatin Valley. With the business' popularity in town, it made sense to expand to a second, year-round location that wouldn't depend so much on Montana's weather.
"I think that we really started thinking about it last summer," says Genuine Ice Cream owner Ellie Southworth. "We had two summers under our belt. It was really successful and we had a great response from the community about our product."
Unfortunately, the timing of the opening was right in the middle of a global pandemic.
Only 30 years old, Southworth is in charge of not only her business, but its 20 employees. She started making plans long before anyone knew about COVID-19. And despite all odds, she still opened up both locations only barely behind schedule. And since they've opened, business keeps churning on.
"We've been busy," she says. "And I don't want to say that [COVID-19] hasn't impacted us because I don't think that that's true."
But how is Genuine thriving while other businesses are struggling? The answer might be simple.
"To me, ice cream is nostalgic right? I mean, you go out with your family for ice cream," says Southworth. "Give people that sort of sense of normalcy, getting an ice cream cone."
Southworth also says she thinks the fact that the trailer is outdoors might be a factor in their success during the pandemic, because people feel like they can spread out (a standard encouraged by Genuine itself, which placed ice cream-shaped stickers six feet apart on the ground around the trailer).
Something else you can look forward to with the year-round ice cream shop? Seasonal flavors.
The second location is just a quarter of a mile down the road from the trailer, across the street from the Willson Auditorium at 411 W Main Street.