Norm Cruthers, who has owned Norm's Ice Cream Shop in Fruitport for the past 12 years, recently purchased the East End Ice Cream Shop at 1453 Washington Ave.
Two years ago, Cruthers opened an ice cream shop on the causeway in North Muskegon.
“Last year, the owner of East End approached me,” he said. “I looked at it, but the timing just wasn't right. There was no way I could do it last year because we were just in our second season with the new (North Muskegon) location.”
When the Grand Haven shop remained on the market this year, Cruthers knew it was time to make the move.
“I made a phone call and all the details were the same,” he said. “I was able to negotiate a price I thought was a very fair price. I thought if we could get something on the other side of the river, it would be really good for us.”
Prior to finalizing the deal, though, Cruthers brought in a couple of his trusted employees for their opinion.
“It's a really small building and it reminded us of our Fruitport location,” Cruthers said. “It had that same feel to it. I brought my two lead people through it and they liked the feel of the building, and the neighborhood. It's nice when everyone looks at something and feels like it has a comfortable feel to it.”
Cruthers said the Grand Haven location will feature the same huge portions scooped at his other two stores. It's a marketing strategy he learned from a public TV special.
“We try to do good-sized cones and flurries at reasonable prices — that's been our blessing,” he said. “When I first bought the Fruitport store (from the Stafford family), they did tiny cones at about the same price. I watched a PBS special on a place that did larger sizes and they had three families making a living off doing these larger sizes.”
Cruthers tried it, and business boomed.
Cruthers said he is not certain at this time if the Grand Haven shop will serve food.
As soon as he gets approval from the county health department and has staff fully trained, he plans to open — he hopes within the next month.
“We have a person training right now at the Fruitport store and we're hoping to get two more training,” he said.
Cruthers said the local ice cream shop can be a place for celebration, community gathering and camaraderie.
“I think we're just looking forward to summer, especially after all this cold weather,” he said. “Maybe the ice cream gives us that little thought of 'warmer weather is coming.' At least for me it does.”
We're a community ice cream shop. We try to focus more on the local people than the tourists. We hope to be a good location for people to come out and meet friends and neighbors and get an ice cream cone. ... At Fruitport and Muskegon, we find neighbors run into neighbors more than anywhere else in town.”