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Teen gets scoop on downtown Macon ice cream business by opening one of her own

Casey Baker wanted a summer job.

But at 13, she’s too young to be hired for the same jobs her older friends were getting, such as bagging groceries or waiting tables.

So, while brainstorming ideas with her dad, Chuck, Casey decided to become her own boss.

During the past week or so, downtown Macon regulars have probably noticed Casey’s pushcart bicycle, full of a variety of ice cream treats. And by Casey’s account, quite a few of them are actually buying an ice cream bar or two.

“I knew there was a hot dog guy downtown, so I decided to start selling ice cream,” said Casey, who will be a freshman this fall at Central High School. “I thought they go together.”

Her dad decided to help out, buying the bicycle online and helping her to secure a business license and insurance. This isn’t a gift on his part, but rather a loan. Casey will pay him back from her profits.

“I wanted this to be her company,” Chuck Baker said. “I told her, ‘I’ll finance it, and once you pay me back, it’s your company.’ I think she’s done very good. We really didn’t know what to expect. ... I think it’s a great opportunity. No one else around here does it.”

Jumping through the hoops to get her license proved daunting enough. The Bakers had to get approval from the health department, the fire department, Macon police and the city’s traffic engineer. Plus, the venture had to be approved by the Urban Development Authority.

The Bakers had to purchase a $100,000 liability insurance policy as well — all this before the first ice cream bar transaction took place.

Most days when the weather’s good, Casey sets up her cart in front of the Bibb County Courthouse at the corner of Second and Mulberry streets. There’s a pretty good flow of foot traffic at that corner, Casey said, and the feedback has been positive.

In addition, she has sold ice cream in front of the Corner Greek Deli at Second Street and Cherry Street, The Medical Center of Central Georgia and along the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail.

She also sells her cold treats during First Fridays and plans on hawking them at the various music shows at Gateway Park this summer.

“(People) think it’s a good idea,” she said. “Most of the business owners appreciate it because it draws attention to them.”

Also helping to draw attention is Casey’s friend, Nicole Nixon, a rising senior at Rutland High School who plays guitar next to the stand on most days.

“We’re best friends,” said Nicole, who agreed to strum up business for Casey and accepts tips in her open guitar case.

The customers seem to like it.

“I just ate lunch,” said Matt Gazafy, an investigator with the public defender’s office, last week when he bought an ice cream cookie sandwich. “This is something good to finish it off with.”

Casey’s father, who works as a salesman for Trader Media, said his friends ask him if he thinks it’s safe for Casey to work downtown.

“It’s probably the safest place for her to be,” he said, noting the foot traffic and the number of law enforcement officials downtown, especially near the courthouse. “I’d much rather that than have her riding her bike through some neighborhood by herself.”

Casey said she’ll continue to work on weekends during the fall. She hopes to use some of the money she raises for cheerleading, but she also has her eyes on next summer and expanding her business, including getting a second delivery bike.

“I plan on progressing with it,” she said. “I want to be an entrepreneur.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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