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As summer continues to hit record high temperatures, some businesses are building off that heat. But one of the most important summer mainstays seems to have all but disappeared from the county’s landscape.
Neighborhoods are missing that familiar jingle that sends kids running into the streets on a sweltering evening, because it appears that nearly all the ice cream trucks have taken their frozen treats else where this year. And no one seems to know where all the trucks have gone.
Carla Wainscott, the license and payroll clerk for the city of Shelbyville, said truck owners are usually clamoring for licenses by this time.
“We usually have about three to seven, and by now they’re in here fighting for them,” she said. “But we haven’t had one this year, not one. It’s really unusual.”
James Ray Wiley, the county’s occupational license fee administrator, said the same thing is happening in the county.
“We’ve had them in the past, but I can’t recall one this year,” he said but added they could be under a different name.
The Shelby County Health Department has had just one truck come in for an inspection this year. That inspection is then sent to the state for the mobile retail outlet, so it doesn’t mean the applicant is operating here. One health inspection is good for the entire state.
Amy Tingle, who did the inspection, said most of the trucks that will operate in this year come from other places, mainly Louisville.
“They may just not be making the profit they need to drive all the way out here,” she said.
David Cammack, with the North Central Health District, said the number of trucks inspected has been in a decline.
“It’s still kind of low for around here,” he said. “There was big boom here a couple of years, but I guess they didn’t do as well they thought they would.”
Several larger neighborhoods throughout county that always have trucks cruising through have been eerily quiet in the evening.
The city of Simpsonville doesn’t require business licenses for ice cream trucks, but City Clerk/Treasurer Debbie Batliner said she has noticed the missing trucks, too.
“Now that I think of it, I haven’t seen one come through my neighborhood either,” she said. “I live in a pretty big neighborhood, and I’ve always seen them in the past. I do remember one really early in the year, like April, but that’s the only one I’ve seen.”
That missing delivery of sugary snacks has left children all over the county looking for another way to give into that sweet tooth and keep cool.
But even though the trucks have left town, other businesses are welcoming in eager customers.
The Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen on Midland Trail has seen an increase in businesses.
“We usually get an increase in the summer, but it’s just a little earlier this year,” said Cameron Saunders, the store’s manager. “We’re getting busier at night, with people coming in and wanting something to cool off. And we get a pretty good lunch rush every day, and people are getting ice cream with it.”
Air conditioners are hot
Cooling off has been the key, and several local retailers have seen new air conditioning units flying off the shelves.
“The sale of air conditioners has definitely picked up,” said Steve Biagi, with Biagi Company on Main Street n Shelbyville. “It’s been really hot at night, and I think that’s been the determining factor. It’s hard to sleep when you’re hot.”
Biagi said several people have come in to get window units to supplement their central air.
“We call it zone cooling,” he said. “They’ll just want to get it cooler in one area, like the master bedroom or the living room.”
Don Lawrence was in the store this week looking for a new window unit to replace one that had burned up.
“I think it went down because it was eight years old, and last week I had to use it a lot,” Lawrence said.
Fluids moving, too
But it’s not just fans and air conditioners that people are looking for.
“We can’t keep water stocked,” Rural King Assistant Manager Randy Buscher said. “And soda has really taken off, we had to order a special truck.”
Buscher said a current sale on both and the holiday contributed, but it started happening before that.
“We’ve been putting extra orders in for soda and water for a while now,” he said. “We’ve sold a lot of air conditioners and fans, too, but the drinks have just been flying off the shelves. And refrigerant, people have been coming in and getting it a lot. I guess to recharge their car air conditioning.
“That whole stack [which had about 15 cases] will probably be gone today.”
And with more extremely hot weather forecasted throughout this weekend, stores probably will be putting in even more special orders.