Yvonnia Moore and Antonio Williams are celebrating Christmas in July.
Ice cream giant Blue Bunny recently announced that Moore and Williams’ Goldsboro shop the Ice Storm won the grand prize in its national Heart of Fun contest, meaning the Black-owned business will receive a design refresh, free product, and a $20,000 grant.
“We have never really been able to celebrate Christmas or take a vacation in nine years, because everything we made we put back into the business,” Moore said. “Winning this Heart of Fun contest definitely feels like Christmas. It feels like hope, and what I imagine people feel like when they win the lottery.”
An hour southeast of Raleigh, Goldsboro is a town small enough that its entire population would fill less than half of the Carolina Panthers’ stadium. But that arguably means the Ice Storm’s impact dwarfs what it might’ve been in a larger city. It’s a hangout for teens, a hub for seniors who live in the building next door, and the site of countless first dates and birthdays.
Plus, Moore and Williams host programming to help community members open their own businesses. That’s part of what caught Blue Bunny’s attention, as the company looked for shops that serve as the heartbeat of their communities.
In a Fayetteville Observer opinion piece last year offering advice to small business owners, the duo described how their venture began as a street corner lemonade operation in Queens, New York, after they both lost their jobs in the 2008 recession. Lemonade is still a feature on their menu, but since relocating to Goldsboro, their focus has shifted to items like the Stormwich ice cream sandwich, ice cream “nachos” with crispy waffle cones, and a range of other food including wings, hot dogs, and a fried flounder sandwich.
A new Juneteenth lemonade and specialty cone pairings helped them keep the lights on during the pandemic, they wrote in the op-ed. But now, winning the contest “means there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Ice Storm,” Moore said.
Blue Bunny’s contest provides lower levels of support to 20 other ice cream parlors around the country, including Jay’s Wondertreats in Beaufort, South Carolina. But Blue Bunny saved the lion’s share for the Ice Storm, including a design refresh courtesy of celebrity interior designer Nate Berkus. The facelift will be revealed at a grand reopening on July 31.