Ice cream van Leeds

Mr Whippy Ice Cream Vans - Ice Cream Van Hire Company in Leeds (UK)

While competitive ‘turf wars’ among ice cream vans (where rogue sellers have undercut prices and local rivalries have led to drivers being threatened) have been reported in recent years, Ian says it’s less the threat from other vendors than the cheap lollies sold by supermarkets that are putting vans out of business. The only way vendors can break even is by raising the cost of their ice cream.

“In 1980 a cone would have sold for around 15p compared to £1 now, ” he says. But even with inflated prices, Smith’s takings on the van are still the same as they were 20 years ago. “That’s how much it’s dropping off. Every year it seems to get worse and worse, ” he says ruefully.

Not that this curbs his enthusiasm for his work, on which he spends up to 16 hours a day during summer. “All ice cream men get a buzz out of [being busy] regardless of how much money we take, ” he says, but adds: “It’s a difficult job to stay in because you have more downs than ups.”

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