It pretty tough to improve upon ice cream. It’s the perfect treat, at least to me. Although a treat implies that it’s something out of the ordinary, and I prefer to make eating ice cream a very ordinary, preferably daily occurrence.
With the season’s change, daily ice cream consumption can become a struggle as local ice cream shops start closing for the season. Fortunately, a few ice cream shops are still open year round here in Grand Rapids. One of those, Furniture City Creamery, is located on Cherry Street in the East Hills neighborhood. They’ve been there since 2014 and this past year were voted #1 in the ice cream/frozen treats category in Revue’s “Best of the West” poll.
Furniture City Creamery was started by Rachel and her husband Matt. When you walk into the shop today, you’ll most likely see Rachel, or her partner in crime Denise behind the counter, mixing up the ice cream, making waffle cones, scooping cones, and providing free tastes of their delicious creations. The shop is small, and you are able to see the entire ice cream creating process right in front of you.
On any given day, Furniture City Creamery has a dozen or so flavors including two to four vegan options as well as gluten free options (Everyone should be able to enjoy ice cream). All the ingredients are sourced locally and the flavors change daily. Some popular options include chocolate covered pretzel, fudgesicle, vegan no-bake cookie, lemon blueberry, and salted caramel. Rachel and Denise come up with the recipes themselves and make everything from scratch. They also use a lot of other local business' products in their ice creams. Donuts from Van’s and D’art’s, and flavors taken from drinks at Sparrows, Roasters, Global Infusion and Brewery Vivant. They’ve also collaborated with The Cakabakery for a special cookie dough flavor.
One of the unique things you’ll notice about some of Furniture City’s flavors, like the carrot cake, is that there isn’t actually pieces of carrot cake in the ice cream. A lot of ice creams you can buy in the store will use a vanilla base ice cream and then mix in pieces of carrot cake and call it good. Furniture City’s ice creams are made to taste just like they are called, like the carrot cake, or their cookie dough ice cream D’OUGH. It tastes just like cookie dough, however, there is no cookie dough in it at all! This allows gluten free folks to enjoy some flavors they otherwise wouldn’t be able to!
While Furniture City is most definitely an ice cream shop, it’s not all they do. While still small, they are committed to giving back to the community in a big way. Currently, they are offering daily soups and macaroni and cheese options (all homemade) with $1 from each purchase going Congress Elementary School or to help Denise’s church pass out lunches for the homeless each Sunday downtown. This past October they raised $300 in a day to donate to GR Pride in honor of Spirit Day and Anti-Bullying Awareness month. They are also involved with the annual Bissell Blocktail Party, the Humane Society and community dog walks as rescue dogs are very important to them. Oh, they have special doggie ice cream cups too!
At Local First, we focus a lot on using business as a force for good. This means that what they are doing to help out the environment and what they are doing to help out the community around them are just as important as how much money they are making. That’s how we define success. When you stop in at Furniture City Creamery and buy and ice cream cone or a bowl of soup, you’re not just making your stomach happy, you’re supporting a local business owner, and supporting the community you live in. The same goes for every local business. Those are good things. Kind of like how daily ice cream is a good thing.