Some of the best ideas come in a flash, whether it be from an apple (Newton) or a spark (Edison). For Tim McCole, inspiration came in the form of a rumbling stomach.
“It was the middle of winter and I was craving ice cream,” McCole said. “I know — who eats ice cream in January? But I didn’t live right in Vail and couldn’t walk anywhere to get it; I started thinking about ice cream delivery.”
A ski instructor on Vail Mountain during the day, Tim McCole moved to Vail in October, 2012 from Chicago. As skiing took up his daylight hours, he had time in the evening to ponder the bigger questions in life — like where to get locally-made ice cream in the middle of winter.
After doing some research and finding a niche that could be filled by creating homemade, artisan ice cream, McCole decided to take the plunge and start the business.
He floated the idea by his parents; their initial reaction wasn’t overwhelming.
“My dad asked, ‘Can’t you just be a waiter instead?’” McCole said.
But waiting tables wasn’t what McCole had in mind. A born entrepreneur, McCole started his first business when he was a kid, the traditional lemonade stand. From there he expanded to selling used and recycled golf balls online; he started a painting company while in college.
The jump to ice cream wasn’t as radical as idea as it sounds. McCole’s uncle actually contemplated starting an ice cream business during the economic downturn, buying the machine and attending “ice cream school” in North Carolina. A new job put that career on the backburner, but created a unique opportunity for McCole.
McCole started Scoop Vail in August of 2013, after some creative coordination in transporting the 230-pound ice cream machine from Chicago to Vail (a more difficult task than first imagined, the end result depended on a friend driving the machine half of the way) and finding a commercial space to set up shop. Buying from Colorado businesses when possible, like Borden dairy in Colorado Springs, McCole is now creating small-batch, artisan ice cream weekly.
“I can make half a gallon at a time; it takes from 6 to 10 minutes per half gallon,” said McCole. “It’s the smallest industrial size ice cream maker that I could find.”
While this rate of production is working for now, McCole might have to expand soon based on the popularity of his ice cream. Village Market in Edwards and Sims Market in East Vail are both stocking Scoop Vail pints and seeing the flavors flying off the shelf almost as fast as McCole can churn it out. McCole is anticipating adding more locations, including the Stop and Hop stores in Avon and Minturn, in the upcoming months.
It’s a labor of love, one in which McCole’s friends have also gotten involved.
“My first logo? My friend took my initial sketch and created what is now the ice cream shaped-logo,” McCole said. “I had a friend meet me halfway when I was trying to get the ice cream machine from Chicago; another friend helped me design these new labels.”
The new labels are a far cry from the printed labels that McCole pasted on each pint carton. The design not only features the name of the ice cream with a visually appropriate graphic (the new Scoop Vail labels feature each flavor as a ski hill, with a skier traversing the Vail-nilla or Mud Season terrain) but also a lift ticket-styled information panel with the nutrition information and “issued” date for freshness quality.
It’s apropos for a ski-town based company.
When asked about expanding the offerings into other towns, McCole demurred.
“It’s called Scoop Vail. I supposed I could expand into other towns, but I live in Vail. This is where I want to be,” McCole said.
Scoop Vail currently offers four year-round flavors: Vail-nilla, Chocolate Frost, Mogul Milk Chocolate Chip and Mud Season (Oreo). Seasonal flavors vary, but current seasonal flavors are Green Mint Chip and Coffee.
One of the most unique aspects of Scoop Vail is the fact that McCole delivers. Yes, if you’re craving a sweet treat and don’t want to leave the house, McCole will bring two pints (or three or four) of your desired flavor to your location; it’s $5.50 per pint. He’ll even throw in your choice of sprinkles. Delivery is available from 6 to 9 p.m. from Monday though Saturday, while supplies last. Orders for delivery can be placed by call or text to 708-752-1349.
Be patient, though, when the ice cream craving strikes: McCole is not only the owner and operator of Scoop Vail — he’s also the delivery guy.