Java Junction is bringing part of the broader Goshen food experience to campus this semester with The Chief ice cream.
“In addition to opening food requirements for COVID-19, we talked about new and different opportunities that are going on with the pandemic,” said Michelle Horning, professor of accounting, business department chair and advisor to Java Junction.
The Java Junction team discussed changes in the student body, and “what opportunities exist that we wouldn’t pick up in a normal semester?”
At the beginning of each semester, the team, which consists of students from a Java Junction operations class, brainstorms new product ideas. This semester, selling The Chief ice cream was suggested by Bohan Lin, a junior business and music double major.
“We came back to that one quickly,” Horning said.
Because The Chief, a local ice cream shop, has stayed open later than its usual September seasonal closing date, Java Junction could buy ice cream from them.
“All the pieces kinda fell into place, and we said ‘let’s try it,’” Horning said. “We tried it and went ‘Whoo! Students really wanted to buy pints of ice cream.’ So we kept doing it,” Horning said.
Java Junction has sold 325 individual pints so far, not including pints in care packages.
Chino Saleh, a junior accounting major, helps to collect the pints for Java Junction, adding to his tasks as a team leader.
“The Chief is only open on weekends, so those are the only times we can get them,” Saleh said.
There is no official agreement with The Chief, Saleh simply purchases ice cream as any customer would.
“The owners were thrilled with the idea and happily sell us lots of pints every Friday,” Horning said.
Java Junction buys 60-70 pints a week, around $200-300, and “[We] sell almost all of them, if not all of them, every week,” Saleh said.
Initially, Java Junction purchased pint flavors based off of The Chief’s tops flavors, Saleh said.
But some popular flavors at The Chief, such as mocha, didn’t sell as well on campus.
“We realized the target market was not the same as The Chief,” Horning said.
“For the first couple of weeks, it was cookies and cream and mint chip,” Saleh said.
Horning said that peanut butter was also a top seller, Marcus Housholder, junior accounting major, added blue moon to the top selling list. The Java Junction team observed that if a flavor was sold out, customers would say “Okay I’ll take another.”
According to Java Junction’s order data, the busiest time to buy pints is from 7-11 p.m., where the sales have a “huge spike,” Horning said.
The pints also had an unexpected benefit.
“The Chief ice cream helped a lot with quarantine and people going into isolation,” Saleh said.
Students initially bought milkshakes for friends in quarantine, but began buying The Chief ice cream pints, which are easier to grab and don’t need any preparation time.
Still Horning is unsure if Java Junction will sell The Chief pints in the future.
“I think it will be hard to continue past this semester because The Chief is closing,” Horning said. Most special items come and go, Horning said, citing a time when Java Junction sold donuts on Fridays.
“Next semester the team may try to keep it up,” Horning said, “Maybe next fall it will come back.”
Horning added that future teams can look at data and see what was popular.
“One of the things we work on every semester is recognizing that our customers change every year,” Horning said. “Seniors graduate, new students come in. It’s hard to know what’s going to capture students’ attention every year.”
Another concern is the changing weather.
“Pints of ice cream fit with the [warmer] weather,” Horning said. “[As people were] looking for something different than you get at the Leaf Raker, dining hall.”
Horning said that it’s possible to bring back the pints during the spring semester or May Term. A single serve option has also been considered.
“There’s some opportunity left with The Chief,” Horning said.
Java Junction is not the only business happy with the success.
“When we do go buy The Chief ice cream pints,” Saleh said. “Owners and people who work there, they are really fond of the idea. They really like this idea that we go buy from them.”
Individual pint sales will end soon.
“We’re going to keep it going on the weekends until the semester is over,” Horning said.
Pints will still be sold as part of care packages, and block orders can be purchased through the end of the fall semester.