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Kinkora high school student navigating business waters and serving up ice cream

Harrison Duffy, 16, opened Somerset Ice Cream Bar in Kinkora earlier this summer. He’s had a busy first season and is holding a customer appreciation day on Sept. 29 to show his thanks to the community.
Harrison Duffy, 16, opened Somerset Ice Cream Bar in Kinkora earlier this summer. He’s had a busy first season and is holding a customer appreciation day on Sept. 29 to show his thanks to the community. - Colin MacLean

KINKORA, P.E.I. - Harrison Duffy’s daily routine goes something like this:

6 a.m. – Wake up.

6:30 a.m. – Head to his new business, Somerset Ice Cream Bar.

6:45 a.m. – Start cleaning, doing kitchen prep, payroll, etc.

8:45 a.m. –  Attend Grade 11 classes at Kinkora Regional High School.

3 p.m. – Leave school, head back to ice cream bar.

4 p.m. – Open for business.

8 p.m. – Close shop and head home.

Despite his young age, Harrison, 16, has already thrown himself head-first into entrepreneurship.

The Kinkora resident is the owner/operator of Somerset Ice Cream Bar, located at 2 Somerset St.

The business opened in early July. The summer season was a trial by fire - or in this case ice cream - for the budding business owner.

“It’s awesome. I think we were very well set up and prepared for our first year. Sure, we had our odd hiccup now and then. But it was a great summer and I don’t have any regrets,” he said.

Harrison worked full-time hours at the ice cream bar and employed four people part-time.

So how does a 16-year-old get such an enterprise rolling?

Apparently, a drive to learn and surprisingly little help from mom and dad.

Harrison’s parents are Robert and Karen Duffy. Karen explained that Robert co-signed a new business loan with Harrison, but it was her son’s effort that made his business a reality.

Harrison came up with the idea, developed his own business plan, took bookkeeping and business management classes and even bought a used soft-serve ice cream machine to take apart and tinker with, just so he would know how it worked in case he ever had to fix one.

“We’re really proud of his efforts,” said Karen.

Harrison got the idea to open an ice cream bar after realizing there was untapped market in Kinkora and the surrounding area. From there, it was a matter of getting his loan, buying his lot and getting it rezoned, then buying a used farm market building, moving and renovating it.

He originally considered starting with something a little less ambitious, but eventually decided to go all-in and open something full-sized.

“I thought just go big or go home. Why not jump in and do it all? Then you don’t have worry about upgrading,” he said.

The response from the community has been incredible, added Harrison. He has even received support from erstwhile competitors, like Kool Breeze Ice Cream Barn in Summerside and Frosty Treat in Kensington. Both of those businesses encouraged him and allowed him to work in their establishments so he could do some training.

Chris Gaudet of North Tryon stopped by for some soft serve last Thursday afternoon.

“Saves me driving to Summerside every day,” chuckled Gaudet, when asked about presence of the business in the community.

Of the business’ young owner, Gaidet added, “I give him a lot of credit, I think he’s going places.”

Somerset Ice Cream Bar is currently on off-season reduced hours, though Harrison intends to keep it open at least until the end of September. Customers can stop in for an ice cream from 4 to 8 p.m. from Monday to Friday, and Noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Today, from 4 to 6 p.m., Harrison is hosting a Customer Appreciation Day to thank the community for their support in his inaugural year.

Twitter.com/JournalPMacLean

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