Saying it is expanding in the Mid-Atlantic and South, Gifford's Famous Ice Cream said today its 2016 gallon sales were up 16% over the prior year and that it will open its stands for the season this Friday.
Despite the pending nor'easter and cold weather, Gifford's plans to celebrate its popular "Opening Day" at its five stands in Maine with six new flavors. Long lines form annually for a free, two-scoop small cone of a customer's favorite flavor.
"We're Mainers," Lindsay Skilling CEO of Gifford's, told Mainebiz when she became a Mainebiz Women to Watch 2016 last August. Gifford, 33, replaced her father as CEO last year.
As the stands open, Skowhegan-based Gifford's also announced that it sold 2.2 million gallons of ice cream in 2016, up 16% over last year. That's big growth for a small ice cream company, Gifford's noted in a statement, especially considering that volume sales for U.S. ice cream declined 5% in 2016, according to market researcher Mintel of Chicago.
Since 2014, Gifford's, which has 40-year round and 120 summer employees, has seen total gallon volume sales grow a minimum of 8% annually. Gifford's, a family business founded in 1980, does not reveal monetary sales. It initiated a five-year strategic planning initiative that included a $1.6 million expansion at its Skowhegan facility last year.
The company also said today that it is expanding in the Mid-Atlantic states and the South. In April, Gifford's will start selling ice cream at Lowes Foods in North and South Carolina and at ShopRite, with stores in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The stands will give out free ice cream from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Auburn, Bangor, Farmington, Skowhegan and Waterville. The day also marks the start of a season-long fundraising initiative to support veterans. Skilling said Gifford's will make cash donations to several veterans' organizations, including the Travis Mills Foundation, and that employees are focusing their volunteer efforts on veteran's causes and initiatives throughout 2017.
For those already anticipating the Friday opening, the new flavor choices are:
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