Located on the south end of Skaha Lake, Okanagan Falls (OK Falls) was originally named after a small set of falls that lay on the Okanagan River. However, if you go looking for the now-submerged falls you may find another way to cool down in the summer sun at Tickleberry’s. The locally owned and operated ice cream-and-more store is operated by second generation sibling entrepreneurs, Kelsey and Aaron Hoy… with a little help from their parents Dale and Jenette.
Dale and Jenette Hoy relocated from the Yukon in 1988 with their three young children and big dreams of operating their own country store with homemade jam, scone mixes, gifts, and ice cream for the kids to have while their parents shopped. “So, Ice cream was never the main part of Tickleberry’s.” says Kelsey.
So how did a homemade jam company become the biggest seller of ice cream in Western Canada?
When asked about the early stages of Tickleberry’s, Kelsey identified planning and investment capital as two key factors in the growth of a budding operation. “Have a full year of cash flow saved … more than what you think you need … and then pursue it. Don’t impulse anything because I see so many places here go up and go down.” Kelsey stated.
Let’s face it: Most of us don’t have investment capital collecting interest in our bank accounts. So how did the Hoy’s garner investment to start their business?
“My parents asked everybody,” Kelsey replied. “They got money from their parents, they got money from their friends, there was a really good grant program going on through the government for starting new businesses and that’s how they did it.” Kelsey is referring Community Futures the who assisted with planning and acquiring more ice cream coolers, an essential part of growing their business. “They sold their gold claims, so they had a bit of money from that to purchase the property and then they just worked it… my dad had a big sign made saying ‘FREE PUBLIC WASHROOMS’ and that’s how we got our customer base.” Kelsey chuckled.
The seasonal business continues to grow and Kelsey credits her consistent sales analysis to point her in the right direction. “I’ve changed even how we do things based on what the public wants … ice cream is still over 70% of our business and fudge is slowly getting smaller … it’s just kind of following those trends and acting on them.” Kelsey explains.
More advice from Kelsey: don’t take things personally.
“Not everyone will love what you do and not everyone will be supportive but you just have to smile and go ‘this makes me happy and I love it’… and be proud of it and that’s it. I come in, I walk around the store and I smile and say “WOW! This is my life!’”
find Kelsey, most days, at the Tickleberry’s location in Okanagan Falls, or
look for Aaron at one of the three Skaha Lake locations.