Summer’s coming fast around the corner, and that means constantly trying to stay out of the heat and finding things to help cool you down. One of the great things about this is the excuses you make up to eat ice cream.
With a limited number of ice cream shops in town, Huguenot Creamery often has a line out the door, and owner Patty Walker loves bringing smiles to her patrons faces.
Walker lived in the apartment above Huguenot Creamery until she was eight years old, when her family rented the property. She came back to New Paltz for college and went on to have a successful career in industrial sales. Her family rented out the property to a barber shop until the owner had to retire. Walker was in charge of keeping the property clean when she realized she could open a business of her own.
Walker’s shop has been open since 2011, and for the first five years, she continued with her career in industrial sales during the day and worked the shop at night, working 20-hour days.
“I went to work, I took orders, I had to write orders when I got home, I had to put them in and send them,” Walker said. “There was work to do, it wasn’t [just] you go to work and come home and you’re done.”
Now that Walker no longer does industrial sales, she gets the winter months all to herself since the creamery is closed for the season.
“During the winter months now I relax,” Walker said. “I try to get everything done I can’t get done because it’s so busy, I paint, I clean, I get things back in order.”
Walker got the idea for an ice cream shop when tourists would ask her where they could get ice cream around town and she realized there was a big need for an ice cream shop. She hadn’t always dreamed of opening an ice cream shop, but she loved the idea of getting into a business that makes everyone happy.
The shop’s menu not only consists of ice cream and toppings, but also milkshakes and homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches.
Having the creamery also gave Walker a chance to have relationships with locals who helped her decorate the shop. All the decorations were given to her by customers.
“Every single one of my decorations people bought me. Every picture, every frame, every cow,” Walker said.
Though Walker was working twenty-hour days, the creamery was also a way to distract herself from her very demanding job.
“People were coming in and there I was in my frame of mind distracted with what’s next and they would come in and they would be smiling, they would be so happy and I would say ‘oh my goodness this is the happiest thing,’” Walker said.
Once in a while, Walker gets a grumpy customer and says that when customers are in a bad mood, she’s in a bad mood. Usually, though, she can count on bringing smiles to people’s faces every day.
“The first year I opened everyone was so cute,” Walker said. “I was dragged after working all day, I was tired, I was going seven days a week, 17-20 hour days. They would come dragging in, it was hot that summer,” Walker said. “And they would come in saying ‘My apartment is so hot, this is so terrible’ and they would see the ice cream and say ‘But you’ve got ice cream, so everything’s gonna be okay! It was like magic, all you could do was smile, that’s what it was all about. I think any business that should be what it’s all about, enjoying what you do.”