Nova Scotia

Antigonish teen opens ice cream trailer powered by the sun

A high school student in Antigonish, N.S., has opened a new ice cream trailer that runs on solar power. Nicky Nicholson started her own business, Happy Cones, last month.

Happy Cones is owned and operated by Nicky Nicholson, a Grade 10 student

Nicky Nicholson, left, is seen with a co-worker inside the Happy Cones ice cream trailer. Nicholson opened the entirely solar-powered trailer in July. (Peter Nicholson)

A high school student in Antigonish, N.S., has opened a new ice cream trailer that is entirely powered by the sun.

"I feel really good about it, and it's definitely very empowering, especially since this is the first ice cream trailer with solar power," Nicky Nicholson told CBC's Information Morning on Monday.

Nicholson, 15, is the owner of Happy Cones, the new mobile ice cream shop which is usually found in the parking lot of the Antigonish Mall.

The teen developed the idea a couple years ago when she participated in a young entrepreneur program called Girls Mean Business at St. Francis Xavier University. 

Her business plan was put into motion earlier this year when her family purchased a small aluminum trailer and storage freezer that can hold 16 tubs of ice cream.

Customers visit the Happy Cones trailer at the Antigonish Farmers Market in July. The trailer is usually parked in the parking lot of the Antigonish Mall but also visits parks, playgrounds and local events. (Peter Nicholson)

Inside the trailer, they constructed a service counter with storage that houses a sink, the water supply, a small water pump and a water heater.

Four solar panels on the roof connected to a generator collect enough energy to power the freezer full of ice cream.

The trailer opened in early July and has been operating daily, with the help of another student employee. The trailer is typically parked at the mall but also visits parks, playgrounds and local events.

Nicholson said since opening, the mobile ice cream shop sees about 50-60 customers a day.

A customer and his child grab an ice cream cone at Happy Cones in Antigonish. The new business is open daily. (Peter Nicholson)

"I expected a little less, to be honest, because we're just starting out, but I think it's a good amount for just starting out," she said.

She said the customers are usually "shocked" when they learn the business is fully solar powered.

"They're really excited about the whole idea," she said. 

"And it's new to them … we try to educate people as much as we can about how good it is for the environment [using] clean energy." 

A customers takes a photo of the Happy Cones trailer at the Antigonish Art Fair. Nicholson said she plans to keep the mobile ice cream shop open for the summer, until she has to go back to school in September. (Peter Nicholson)

Nicholson said she plans to keep the business open for the summer, until she has to go back to school to start Grade 10 in September.

She said her business wouldn't have been possible without the help of her father, Peter Nicholson, and a number of sponsors.

"We're so happy to see young entrepreneurs thinking green and keeping community sustainability top of mind," Mayor Laurie Boucher said in a news release about the new business.

Customers line up to get an ice cream from Happy Cones at the Antigonish Art Fair in July. Nicholson said the trailer gets about 50-60 customers a day. (Peter Nicholson)

"Happy Cones has shown how the great benefits of solar power can be used in creative ways and is a model for all of us to consider using solar to reduce our carbon footprint."

Nicholson said she hopes to continue working as a young entrepreneur and possibly start more businesses in the future.

"This is just the start — my own business and solar power."

With files from Katie Hartai

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