When customers of Alger Hardware and Rental are craving a frozen treat, they can stop in at Heights Cream, which opened inside the store in August 2020 and serves hard and soft serve ice cream.
The shop occupies just 200 square feet of the hardware store’s footprint but makes excellent use of what was previously unused retail space. The front windows that face the sidewalk and front of the store are ideal for walk-up service, says Joel DeJong, who co-owns Heights Cream with his dad Bill DeJong, owner of Alger Hardware and Rental in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“We wanted the neighborhood, which is close-knit and walkable, to have an ice cream shop, and we were finally in a place to build one,” Joel says. “Many hardware store customers are surprised that we have an ice cream shop. We’ve been able to market the shop to the neighborhood directly through a thriving community Facebook group.”
Heights Cream sources all of its ice cream through the local Moo-Ville Creamery, a family-owned and -operated dairy headquartered in nearby Nashville, Michigan.
The ice cream store is only open seasonally, but the DeJongs have added an ice cream cake cooler in the hardware store so customers can still enjoy delicious Moo-Ville treats year-round.
“While, on paper, the ice cream shop and the hardware store are two separate businesses, they are both driven by the mission of making our community the best it can be,” Joel says.
Read more food-themed Checkouts stories here, including how HomCo Lumber and Hardware greets customers with hot coffee and cookies, the ways Stormer’s Hardware helped out local food trucks and Sullivan Hardware’s in-store restaurant.