While many restaurants are riding the modern trend of the food truck, there’s one Durango business owner who wants to take life back to a simpler time.
The era of the ice cream truck.
Carrie Foster, better known as “Carrie the Ice Cream Lady,” has been in love with the idea of owning an ice cream truck since 2000.
After going through a divorce, the idea dawned on her of joining the circus. However, the reality of actually joining the circus set in, and she decided to pursue something she felt was similar – bringing joy in the form of Drumsticks and Bomb Pops.
Those attending the True Western Roundup, Christmas in July or the Four Corners Motorcycle Rally, might see Foster with her vibrantly painted truck handing out frozen treats. Contrary to the typical stereotype of an ice cream truck, she is focused on events rather than cruising the parks for business.
“Our lifestyle has changed. Kids aren’t really playing outside anymore. So I target events and I’ve been able to find my market that way,” she said.
Foster brings years of food service industry experience to her brand, having worked for a number of different restaurants in the Vail Valley before starting her ice cream truck business.
In 2000, she bought an old Denver Post delivery truck and ran her original business in the Vail Valley until 2016. She then went on hiatus until restarting the business in Durango in May 2023.
Her first catered event service was during the Rio Rapids Soccer Tournament over Mother’s Day Weekend. From Foster’s perspective, there are many benefits to having a portable business like the ice cream truck.
“I can go to the people and the people don’t have to come to me, like a food truck a lot of times will be stationary,” she said.
To her, the truck is her marketing tactic, and she joked that she has no need for a website. She says another benefit to having an ice cream truck business is the inclusivity.
“It covers all age demographics,” she said. “You can do sugar free, dairy free or color free. It’s for everybody and just old fashioned.”
She added that she wanted the business to bring back the nostalgic feeling older generations had when they were children and getting ice cream.
While Foster doesn’t often drive from park to park in town like the traditional ice cream trucks do, she will occasionally stop by to drum up business.
She says Fassbinder Park is her favorite to visit because it has a lot of shade. Often, under intense heat, the truck can be difficult to work in.
Because she puts an emphasis on attending events, the organization hosting her will generally get a cut of the profits. Foster said the percentage varies based on the event and host organization. She says at times it could be up to 50%.
When she brought the truck to the Rio Rapids Soccer Tournament, she contributed 20% of the profits to the organization.
Foster said she thinks another reason the ice cream truck trend died was a general lack of trust in the community. She said its hard for parents to let their child walk up to a stranger in the park to buy ice cream.
As a mother and a grandmother, she said she understands this completely and wants people to understand that she’s completely safe.
“I think that goes a long way these days,” she said.
Foster focuses strictly on novelty ice cream items rather than scoops because it’s hard to keep the ice cream cold in the truck, she said, adding that she will be adding root beer floats to the menu soon. It’s another treat she feels has gone out of style and wants to bring back.