Six-year-old Jacob St. Cyr climbed the small wooden ladder in The Village Scoop ice cream shop in Colchester on Monday afternoon,
carefully surveying the wall of whimsical, sugary toppings. He settled on a chocolate-vanilla twist, covered with rainbow sprinkles.
Just minutes before, employee Lexi Smith handed a nearly identical order to a customer outside the shop’s signature drive-through window.
The steady business was nothing new for the present trio of efficient workers, who proclaimed the overcast spring day was relatively slow.
The scoop shop, which used to function as a schoolhouse, has cycled through four owners in its 20-year tenure, Molly Terrien said as she wiped the counters before opening the store last Saturday morning.
She and her three sisters each spent summers working at the operation as kids before her parents, Andy and Marianne Terrien, decided to buy it eight years ago, agreeing there was a real demand for ice cream in the community.
“People just love it,” Marianne said. “I can’t imagine it not being here.”
Now, two of the Terriens’ four daughters live above the scoop shop itself. Andy and Marianne have lived in a house just down the street for more than two decades.
The family kept several elements of the shop intact when they took over, but switched their hard ice cream supplier to Gifford’s, a creamery based in Skowhegan, Maine. Flavors posted on the wall include classics like chocolate among more unique choices like “Campfire S’mores.”
Business has grown steadily each season, Marianne said, and they’ve added more seating and parking, hoping to keep up with demand.
Inside, the shop is still somewhat cramped. That’s a realization that becomes most obvious when half a dozen employees are filling orders simultaneously.
“It’s not for everyone,” Marianne said, laughing. “It’s messy, it’s dirty, it’s sticky, and you smell like a creemee when you leave here every day.”
Molly, who works as a second-grade teacher in Grand Isle, recalled a day when a continual stream of customers kept staff on their toes. At closing time, they discovered they’d never put out the “open” flag, an oversight that hardly deterred their dedicated patrons.
Nor did a wintry mix that blew through the region on opening day this season. The Terriens plowed 7 inches of snow from the drive-through lane to make way for eager customers on April 1.
None of the family members count the shop as their full-time job, Marianne said, so a team effort is required to keep the system running smoothly. That includes help from their “scoopers,” too. Most are young adults that live in Colchester and surrounding towns.
When youngest daughter Katie was married in the shop’s backyard, Marianne said scoopers served as wait staff for the ice cream-themed affair.
“Our scoopers end up being extended family,” Marianne said, noting many have babysat for her four grandchildren. “We don’t know what we would do without them.”
They’ve come to love some of their repeat customers, too. Even as a lifelong Colchester resident, Molly said she’s met folks for the first time at The Village Scoop. When she notices a familiar face that she can’t quite place around town, it almost certainly connects back to the shop.
The Terriens have also gotten to better know business owners across Colchester, participating in what Marianne calls the “local loop” of patronage.
Kids as young as 3 years old have climbed the signature black and white stairs at the counter to tell Molly they want to work as a scooper someday. Current employee Jordyn Thayer said she told her mom the same thing years ago.
“We try to keep it a happy place,” Andy said, meaning Village Scoop strives to live by the motto “the customer is always right.”
Each year, the Terriens try to add on to their already extensive menu. By the end of this month, they hope to have a new creemee machine that will produce maple and black raspberry soft-serve alongside the classic vanilla, chocolate and twist.
The most requested order?
“The peanut butter delight is definitely the most popular,” Molly said of the sundae topped with peanut butter sauce and peanut butter cups. “People love peanut butter and ice cream.”
That’s followed closely by the brownie sundae, the fudgy cake made onsite by the staff. Waffle cones are handmade, too, and the shop can fly through as many as 200 per day.
Peak time, they joked, is every day – 10 minutes before they close.