Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tradition, location the key to the sales of square ice cream in Swan Valley

Jayda Jorgensen, a sophomore this year at Ririe High School, hands over a waffle cone loaded with Huckleberries and Cream, the top-selling flavor at the Rainey Creek Country Store in Swan Valley. 
It wouldn't be summer in eastern Idaho without a stop at the Rainey Creek Country Store in Swan Valley, "Home of the Square Ice Cream."

The board behind the counter
Passing through Monday to check out an auction site in Irwin, it seemed like the natural thing to do.

The store is having its biggest summer since the economic downturn of 2008, said manager Judy Moore, who has been in charge for 12 years. "People are driving and getting out more," she said. Between day-trippers, tour buses filled with Europeans making the loop through Yellowstone and Jackson Hole and campers from the local scout camps, "It's been crazy," she said. "Every weekend has been crazy."

Numbers on a board behind the counter show sales from this year and last. While sales were up nearly 17 percent Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July was up only 2 percent. "That's because it was in the middle of the week," said Jayda Jorgensen, one of the servers behind the counter.

"A lot of people come in and look at the numbers and they think it's the square ice cream, but there are other places that have tried square ice crea," Moore said. "The main thing is we've been here since 1946 and we're in a location where people drive by us anyway. We're 45 minutes out of Idaho Falls, so people are ready to take a break. There's a tradition. You don't stop in Swan Valley with stopping by and getting a square."

Word of mouth also helps. Someone at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport routinely recommends the store to tourists. "I don't know who that person is, but I love them," Moore said.