Tropical Sno opens to flurry of new customers
Updated: July 22, 2012 7:40PM
Patrick Williams is cool, but he was sweating a little bit June 14 when he officially opened Tropical Sno at 114 S. Washington St. in Hinsdale. He was sweating a little because he and his co-worker Charlie Klingenberger, served a steady, and sometimes heavy, stream of customers all day. By the time he closed shop at 10 p.m., some 350 people had been through Tropical Sno enjoying the more than 50 flavors of ice snacks that sell for between $2.50 and $3.50 each.
Williams, a Hinsdale teen who recently graduated from St. Ignatius College Prep, is cool because he has some interesting plans for his college years and some laudable goals for Tropical Sno this summer.
But before we got to that, Williams had to take a deep breath and think about his opening day business.
“It’s been a little wild,” Williams admitted when he had a free moment sometime around 6 p.m. — the quiet time when his customers are eating dinner.
“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “It is first-day hype.”
Business was aided a little, too, by people’s memories of the last time Tropical Sno was in town, which was in 2010 in space on East First Street. Patrick’s older brother Ryan opened that store and pledged a portion of the proceeds to Notre Dame University’s Haiti relief efforts.
The younger brother’s on-the-job training came from that summer experience, and yet while Patrick said he felt confident that he knew what to expect opening his own Tropical Sno this summer, he was still awed by the amount of work, work that really started in earnest less than a month ago when he started negotiating with the real estate agent for a very short term lease. He had to acquire permits from the village and arrange for material and equipment from the Tropical Sno headquarters, which operates the Tropical Sno shops as dealerships and not franchises.
One of Williams’ favorite activities as a high school student was Model UN, a club where students participate in simulations of the United Nations and must resolve world issues acting as informed diplomats. It is through this sort of interest and other studies that Williams learned about Charity: Water, a nonprofit which seeks to bring safe, clean drinking water to people in developing countries.
“Clean drinking water is the most basic human right,” Williams said, adding potable drinking water should never be something that is privatized or used as a commercial resource. “One in eight people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water.”
As someone who spent nine years living in three tropical third world Asian countries, I can absolutely attest to the fact that millions of people have no access to clean water or even any concept of free-flowing, easy-to-use water.
Williams hopes to earn enough from Tropical Sno to buy a $5,000 well from Charity: Water. That sum will come only if he has anything left after he pays the rent, repays his parents for start-up costs, pays sales tax and pays his employees — three friends — and their tax withholdings. Williams will close Tropical Sno at the end of July before heading off to the College of William and Mary where he plans to major in history and to combine his education with two years at St. Andrews in Scotland.
“I have always loved history and I’ve realized in the past year or so is seeing how past events impact the world today,” he said.
Tropical Sno is open from noon to 10 p.m Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, stop by the store or visit its Facebook page.
Was that snow?
Brrrrrr. Something chilly was going on in Clarendon Hills last week even though a quick pass through the village revealed all kinds of typical summer twilight activities. The lights were on over at Prospect Park illuminating a Little League game, all sorts of people promenaded the sidewalks with dogs and/or strollers in tow and late-day gardeners tended to their plants once the bees were at rest. But on Oxford Street very near the intersection with Burlington, it looked like preparations were underway for Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blixen to lead the Jolly Old Elf into a landing.
There an attractive shingle house sported all manner of holiday décor including lights, wreaths and Christmas paraphernalia including that most Christmassy accoutrement of all — snow. Yes, snow. Well, it was something that won’t melt and that sure as heck resembled snow from a distance of 30 or more feet. Passersby were standing around in their shorts and T-shirts looking at this weirdly evocative spectacle on a lush June evening in which it was not even fully dark yet. They observed this slice of winter wonderland as it was shot again and again, the flash photography illuminating the scene.
According to Police Chief Tim Jenkins this was a still photo shoot for Sears, and while the production company doing the work had to work with both the village and the Police Department to assure that it didn’t disrupt life on Oxford too much, Jenkins said he hadn’t heard any complaints from the neighbors. It was fun to see such a lovely Christmas tableau while comfortably attired and unconcerned with shoveling.