Bricks and mortar have given Rose Simmons a welcome respite and a new chapter in her business.
Since 2014, the Ahwatukee woman operated a mobile business called Let It Snow Cones.
But now she no longer has to move heavy generators and shaved ice machines, sit outside in hot weather or deal with other struggles that come with a traveling business.
On March 1, she opened Tropical Sno at 4747 East Elliot Road, Suite 34, and she is marking her business’ new home by giving away free shaved ice noon-9 p.m. April 5.
“I knew someday I’d be putting it up when I finally opened up my store, and it just makes me happy to see,” Simmons said.
As an indication of just how happy she is, a wooden sign reading “Welcome to Paradise” hangs on the back wall.
When Simmons opened Tropical Sno, she had fulfilled a dream that she had been formulating for a long time. She bought the sign nearly three years ago, knowing the day would eventually come that she could put it up as her shop’s first decoration.
The brick-and-mortar location has made her life “so much easier.”
She even remembers her first event.
“I went to this pool party, and I quickly realized that nobody with their swim suits on usually has any money in their pocket,” she said, chuckling. “I learned that places like elementary schools and events when it’s over 100 degrees out are probably my best bets.”
The idea of food vending was actually inspired by watching her son play football for Mountain Pointe High School. One night at a hot home game, Simmons observed the vendors in the stadium and started thinking how much money they were making, and how much fun they appeared to be having.
She had enjoyed snow cones for years, specifically from nearby Bahama Bucks, but noticed there was a lack of mobile vendors in the area. With year-round heat, and constant outdoor sports and events taking place in the East Valley, snow cones seemed like a perfect product to peddle.
“It was a lot of work to get started, but there have been some really amazing days doing it, and I really like it,” Simmons said.
Before opening her snow cone truck, Simmons had never owned her own business. She worked for over 20 years at Southwest Airlines – she still does, part-time – and knew she needed some help setting herself up for success.
She reached out to Eric Slivinski, owner of two area Tropical Sno locations and a manager for Tropical Sno’s corporate southwest office. He mentored her on initial advertising and decoration, but figures she already has the tools needed to make the Ahwatukee shop profitable.
“She definitely is a people person, and I think her attitude and how much she enjoys the snow cones are good attributes that will hopefully help her thrive,” Slivinski said.
Simmons hopes her personality paired with excellent flavors and a variety of products will draw customers into the store and keep them returning.
When the free shaved ice event takes place on April 5, she is hoping locals enjoy the product and service so much that they become regulars. She hopes to garner enough business to eventually commit full-time to running the store, and that the “Welcome to Paradise” sign will hang for years to come.
“They’ll be hooked after the first time, and I know they’ll be back,” Simmons said.