Wood Middle School's Junior Scoop scales back
Inza R. Wood Middle School's nonprofit ice cream business recently announced it will only give out 100 memberships for 2019 — the business previously had no limitations — and it will be selling ice cream at less events, focusing only on West Linn and Wilsonville.
Junior Scoop — a group of entrepreneurial students who use ice cream sales to learn various aspects of running a business, including design, marketing and producing the product — was growing larger than the middle school students could handle.
"The main reason why we are downsizing is the district wants us to not get so big and they were like, 'You know what, this is supposed to be a West Linn-Wilsonville thing and you guys are going out to Estacada; you're going to Portland; you're doing all this stuff and it really was meant to be right here. So let's scale it back,'" said Jordan Scoggins, founder and adviser of Junior Scoop.
When Junior Scoop started eight years ago, the business focused on growth and expansion in nearby communities.
But last year, when membership numbers reached around 230, it became too time consuming.
"That's a lot of ice cream to be made," said eighth-grader Carson Puppo, who's on Junior Scoop's marketing team. "That's a minimum of 230 quarts a month but usually it was more than that. A lot of things have to go perfectly smooth and exactly correct to make that happen and the last couple of months, it wasn't going perfect and we realized maybe it's time to take it down a little bit."
Junior Scoop volunteers are split into three shifts of different students for two hours outside of school. There are also students who run the ice cream pick-up every Thursday from 4-6 p.m. where people who have a membership can pick up their weekly pint or quart.
Junior Scoop also works events at local businesses like DWFritz, Xerox and Rockwell Collins. They've handed out ice cream at business events like summer picnics or barbecues as well.
"(Businesses) have said they've already got people who have been asking about becoming members," Scoggins said. "It's going to be who can get in their membership quickly and be organized."
And last year, Junior Scoop did almost 43 events around the Portland area and Estacada. Scoggins and the students spent about 100 days during the summer months making ice cream and selling it at events.
"That's just way too much for Mr. Scoggins and our Junior Scoopers so with that 100 membership scaleback, we are also going to be scaling back the number of events we're going to do, just so we're not working all of the time over the summer," Puppo said, adding that the events will be in the local community.
While Junior Scoop volunteers have already started canvassing for memberships, their website will go live Nov. 16 to fill the final spots for the 100 memberships.
Scoggins said he is concerned previous members will be upset if they do not receive another membership next year but there is a silver lining.
"(We will) keep a close, personal relationship with our customers and focus on what Junior Scoop was really supposed to be about, which was the teaching of business," said eighth-grader Fallon Leishman, who is also on the marketing team.
"For me especially, and the new sixth-graders coming in, it shows how you take care of people who are buying your product but also I think it really helps structure kind of just the learning of business," Puppo added. "One of the things one of our mentors brought up is, 'I want kids to know how to read a growth, profit and loss statement' because what 12-year-old, 13- and 14-year-old knows how to read profit loss statements? How to reconcile the books, that kind of thing. So by bringing it only to 100 we have more time to focus on the business."
Junior Scoop will also be adding a non-dairy option in 2019. There will be three flavors, including one sorbet. New sorbet flavors on the menu include marionberry lime, honey vanilla lavender and piña colada.
"Those hundred, obviously we can take care of them even better than what we've taken before. We've run the business like a normal business as far as, 'Thank you for buying our product,'" Scoggins said. "We'd much rather be able to know them by name, make it really personal, have all sorts of little things we can do with them that are just add-ons. At the rate we were going it was just big. Junior Scoop was always about growth, growth, growth, and then all of a sudden it was like, well, maybe we need to slow down the growth and actually work with our customers more on a personal level."