By Emily Haney
A group of people stand in a line in front of the Lil’ Ice Cream Dude’s cart waiting to make their selection. With choices ranging from classic popsicles and ice cream bars to the new Italian ice variety, coming to a final decision can be difficult. The entrepreneur behind the counter of the Lil’ Ice Cream Dude, Victor ‘Beau’ Shell, can help you out with the decision if needed as he is a self-proclaimed ice cream enthusiast.
Beau is CEO and owner of the Lil’ Ice Cream Dude, as well as a member of the Chamber of Commerce, which is an organization for business owners. On top of that, he is also an elementary school student. For five years, Beau and his family have traveled around the Athens-Clarke Community and Georgia selling ice cream at festivals, sorority events and anything else that interests Beau. “It’s all about how he wants to sell, what he wants to sell and when he wants to sell,” says Vickie Shell, business manager and mom of Beau, who is currently a schoolteacher and also a UGA alumna. “Oftentimes he’s the one reminding us to book more events.” In total the family has been to 200 events with Beau attending all of them.
The Shell family’s ice cream journey began when Beau turned eight years old. For his birthday, he asked his family for an ice cream cart. He brought up wanting an ice cream cart so many times, his parents decided to make his dream a reality. “I wanted to be able to make my own money that way I could buy my own toys, give back and have more privileges,” says Beau Shell, an 11-year-old fifth grader from Athens. With a little money to invest in a cart, Beau’s parents were able to find a family friend who could rig a cooler to a cart. From that point on, the Lil’ Ice Cream Dude was born. However, the name came before the business.
Beau has always loved ice cream. Between the ages of four and six, Beau would eat ice cream every day, always asking his mom to stop at the store for some. “The dentist told me popsicles were good for me since they don’t get stuck in your teeth like ice cream, but ice cream has milk in it, so it’s healthy too,” Beau says. Today when Beau eats ice cream, he’s sampling his product. Beau doesn’t like to pick favorites. He eats a different type of ice cream each day.
At first, booking events proved to be challenging. Beau and his mother called several potential events, before they were able to schedule one. As the word got out about the Lil’ Ice Cream Dude, more people began to reach out to the Shell Family. The more events the business was able to book, the faster Beau started to grow out of his old ice cream cart. In order to get a bigger cart to fit his growing business, Beau started a crowd fundraiser. The money went towards building “The Popsicle,” named because it would make business pop.
Part of the funds earned from ice cream sales go towards charity. Two years ago, the Shell Family got involved with UGA Miracle. Beau wanted to give back to the hospital that helped save his life when he got pneumonia. Initially his parents weren’t sure if Beau would return to his ice cream business after his illness, but as soon as Beau was out of the hospital, he was back with his cart. This year, Beau donated $2,000 of his sales to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “Beau works hard, beyond anything we imagined,” says Vickie Shell. “UGA Miracle is one of the events where Beau gets to let loose a little. This year he played football with some of the other kids.”
Beau is already thinking of future plans for his ice cream business and wants to hire young entrepreneurs to sell ice cream out of ice cream trucks. He also hopes to attend Morehouse College and mix business with sports. When Beau’s not selling ice cream, you can find him playing soccer or basketball. An ice cream empire could be in his future, but today he’s still a kid who enjoys sports and playing with friends.