The Athens Banner-Herald
ATHENS — The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed Victor “Beau” Shell, Athens’ youngest entrepreneur, as their newest member.
Beau is the co-owner and operator of his own ice cream truck called the Lil’ Ice Cream Dude.
That dude is 9 years old.
Beau’s business celebrated its anniversary this July as it joined the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.
“(Beau) is the highlight of the year at the Chamber,” said Chamber President Doc Eldridge. “The reaction (from other members) has been overwhelmingly positive.”
The ice cream dude and his mother recently visited the Chamber of Commerce offices to inquire about membership. Eldridge encountered the two in the building by accident.
“I had known his mother for some time prior to that, but it was a complete stroke of luck meeting them there when I did,” Eldridge said.
After speaking to the young entrepreneur, Eldridge was so impressed he awarded Beau a membership on the spot.
“He was pleasant, had a firm handshake, looked me in the eye,” Eldridge said. “Those are the ingredients that make a great business owner.”
Beau is sure that the membership will give him fond experiences and the tools to grow his enterprise.
The ice cream dude has always had an entrepreneurial spark, according to his mother, Vickie Shell.
“Two summers ago he asked me if we could sell fans because it was so hot,” Shell said. “The only reason we ended up getting him a cart was because he kept asking and we figured he was serious about it.”
Beau received his ice cream cart on his eighth birthday and the business was born. The cart was welded together and constructed from scratch by a friend of the family, said Shell.
The Lil’ Ice Cream Dude now caters fundraisers, family reunions, birthday parties, appreciation days and neighborhood parties.
The cart offers 12 novelty ice cream treats, the ice cream sandwich being Beau’s favorite. He and his family travel to Atlanta to buy his Rich’s and Blue Bunny ice cream, most of which are often not found in retail stores, Shell said.
Beau and his parents have taken serious steps in developing his business since its inception. They have created a logo, advertising banners, social media accounts, a uniform and a snappy slogan: “Cool!”
Their uniforms are white T-shirts, featuring the logo and slogan on the back and a graphic of a button-down shirt with a bow tie on the front. Beau’s name is featured on the front pocket above his title “owner.”
Beau argues that they needed to modernize the traditional ice cream man attire.
“I thought it was not right for me to wear a bow (tie),” he said, citing that the traditional uniform was outdated. “No one dresses like that and I wanted it to look cool.”
Beau has high ambitions for his profits. Aside from a few indulgences, like a skateboarding game for his Xbox, Beau hopes he will be able to give back to his family and others. As a rising fourth-grader at Athens Christian School, Beau is very passionate about the school’s missionary work, which helps fund the construction of schools and churches in foreign countries.
The ice cream dude is also looking at giving back to sick children in the community. Beau fell ill with pneumonia and was hospitalized for five weeks during the Easter holiday this year. There he received a stuffed bunny from a group performing community service. He hopes he can do the same for other children in similar circumstances.
Beau is still unsure of what he would like to do when he grows up, but many are already expecting great things from him.
“He is a natural business owner,” his mother said. “I am so proud of his entrepreneurial spirit.”