Ed. Note: This is the next installment of our Bicycles Are Business series. Many businesses (besides bike shops and bicycle manufacturers) incorporate bicycles into their products or services. Others have realized that it makes good business sense to attract customers or employees arriving by bicycle. Our summer communications intern Max Hayes will be profiling these businesses and why, for them, bicycles are good business.
If you’ve attended a concert, festival or other major event in the Philly area within the last few years, you may have noticed a brightly colored tricycle in the immediate area – freezer firmly mounted in front, pastel blue zigzag design gliding cheerfully along its side. If you got too close, you were likely rewarded with a frozen dessert that was nothing short of amazing.
Starting out with a single, novel-looking trike named “Flavor Blaster One,” Little Baby’s Ice Cream has been scooping for Philly since the winter of 2011. Its tricycles function as mobile ice cream parlors, providing patrons with uniquely catered frozen treats. Founded by local musicians Pete Angevine, Martin Brown and Jeffrey Ziga, Little Baby’s began with the founders’ mutual desire to broaden their perspectives beyond music. As Angevine explains, “The inspiration was found through a search for a nexus for imagination, a new way to creatively engage with [our] community, and wild Ice Cream then unavailable in Philadelphia.”
Since its humble “Flavor Blaster One” beginnings, Little Baby’s has expanded its pedal power to four tricycles. The business also maintains two brick-and-mortar storefronts – its “World Headquarters” on Frankford Avenue, and a “Cedar Park Embassy” located at 49th & Catharine St in West Philly. And for all of this growth, Little Baby’s overall impetus remains a decidedly positive one, holding at its core the same motivations responsible for the tricycles that launched the business. The company sources its dairy from a local creamery in Franklin County, produces all of its products at its flagship Frankford Avenue location, and many of its employees commute to work by bicycle.
“The important things to [us] are making the best and weirdest ice cream possible, supporting our regional food system and practitioners of sustainable agriculture, limiting our waste and walking the walk when it comes to responsible business, making positive contributions to the neighborhoods in which we do business, and offering the frozen dessert eating public a joyful diversion from the everyday,” says Angevine.
In addition to limiting waste and promoting sustainability – honorable goals in themselves – utilizing tricycles in its business model has provided Little Baby’s with marked economic benefits.
“Initially [we] used a tricycle because it was cheaper than a storefront, cheaper than a truck, and matched our ideals regarding sustainability and responsible business practices. Plus, it was an obvious opportunity to extend our approach of … putting a contemporary twist on a familiar tradition,” says Angevine. “The use of tricycles not only helps control our overhead costs, it appropriately and accurately positions us in the culture in a beneficial way. In addition to being ‘cute,’ the tricycles are an indication and symbol of many of [our] values … and many customers immediately recognize that and occasionally support our business because of it.”
Angevine locates Little Baby’s as part of Philadelphia’s bicycling culture, and sees a role companies like his can play in improving the mood in Philly streets.
“Pumping up and expanding the bicycle culture here in Philadelphia is a responsible and forward-looking way to ensure a more livable, healthy and sustainable city. While the state of cycling [here] is currently getting safer and better all the time, I think there is still a lot of work to do to calm some of the hostility between cyclists and motorists. It is our hope that using pedals to power a widely accessible, commercial venture like ours will play a bit part in that effort.”
As for the ice cream – wild is right. Ranging from modern takes on relative staples such as “Birch Beer Vanilla Bean” or “Black Pepper Butter Pecan,” to more outlandish offerings like “Earl Grey Sriracha” or “Pizza,” Little Baby’s flavor combinations are definitely unique. They offer over 20 vegan flavors, and their pints and ice cream sandwiches are carried by many local retailers.
The pedal power that set Little Baby’s in motion has remained a major part of the company throughout its expansion. And Angevine says it is an indispensable part of the company.
“The tricycle remains an integral part of our brand and identity, to our customers as well as within the company. Our roots are on three wheels, now and forever.”