Jeanne Chang always envisioned having her own business. When she moved to West Philadelphia last September she was certain she found the right neighborhood for the business she dreamed about owning.
Chang transformed her vision into reality at the beginning of May when she launched Lil’ Pop Shop. When Chang’s store opened at 265 S. 44th St. residents of the area were already primed for the opening of the shop that specializes in the old-fashioned frosty treat of popsicles by a deft promotion campaign Chang had conducted.
Change, originally from California, lived in Durham, N.C., for five years before moving to Philadelphia. While in Durham Chang and her husband often visited a popular ice pop shop there called Locopops. Inspired by the concept Chang based her business on the idea but wanted to incorporate as many organic and local ingredients as possible. She thought her desired ice pop shop would fit perfectly with University City’s diverse neighborhood and could attract all types of customers.
“I felt like this neighborhood was the perfect fit for [it] because it’s so diverse. It’s rich with families, students and people who are just interested in food and good quality products and I was ready to open a business and I thought [this] was a really good idea,” Chang said.
Unique flavors inspired by seasonal ingredients from local markets and farms are featured on the menu of Lil’ Pops. Lemon blueberry buttermilk, Vietnamese coffee, goat cheese with cherries and watermelon lime are a few of the shop’s summer-inspired flavors.
Flavors are changed weekly allowing new flavors to be rotated onto the menu. All of the popsicles are made fresh on-site in the shop in the rear section of the store behind the counter. The popsicles sell for $3 each.
By reading cook books, food blogs and receiving customer feedback, Chang constantly gets inspiration to create new and interesting flavor combinations. However, she admitted that the seasons play a major role in deciding what kinds of flavors will appear on the menu. As the seasons change so does the flavors.
“When the fall rolls around we’ll have something like sweet potato, pumpkin, eggnog and maybe do a peppermint kind of flavor,” Chang said.
Although the shop offers many flavors Chang strikes a balance between traditional and nontraditional flavors that everyone can enjoy.
“I don’t want to be different just for the sake of being different. I want it to really taste good and to work,” Chang said.
Chang obtains her dairy and produce from local food distributors such as Lancaster Farm Fresh and Common Market. She gets her coffee from Green Street Roasters, which is roasted fresh, daily. The only produce that is not acquired locally are fruits that are not grown locally like lemons, mango and pineapple and mango.
Most of the popsicles are gluten free with the exception of the chocolate brownie caramel and the chocolate pretzel, and many are vegan friendly.
Lil’ Pop Shop has already begun to gather loyal customers who visit on a regular basis.
Melody Boyd is a frequent Lil’ Pop shopper who has set her eyes on a few different flavors.
“I’ve come every week since they’ve opened. I have ten that I want to try so that’s why I have to come so often to try all the different flavors,” Boyd said.
Chang said this neighborhood was perfect for her business.
“I feel like this neighborhood is great because we see every group and every age. We get a lot of kids, older folks, middle-aged people, younger students and working people. I just feel like there’s something here for everybody and we really want to accommodate for everyone as much as we can.”
To Chang, the Lil’ Pop Shop is much more than just a popsicle shop. It is a foundation that was built with the efforts of local residents.
Eric Hurst lives just three blocks away from the shop and he helped Chang design and build some of the shop’s space.
Local artist Micah McGraw made the wooden popsicles for the children’s toy stand.
A local graphics design group, Anagram, designed the shop’s logo, business cards and other graphics.
Chang said, “I just felt like I really wanted this to feel like a neighborhood shop.”
Chang said she hopes her business can contribute as much to the community as the community contributed to making the shop.
“I feel like there’s a lot of connection here in this neighborhood and I’m hoping that my business is a part of the community by offering a good product that has a lot of integrity and really good ingredients, and a place for people to come and hangout and chat,” Chang said.
The feedback and suggestions given by customers does not go unnoticed. Chang expressed how much she appreciates customer feedback and considers what is said.
“The feedback from customers has been really great. I really love to hear them because I want to make popsicles that people want to eat.”
While Lil’ Pop Shop remains in University City Chang said she hopes to someday expand her business into other parts of Philadelphia.
“We’ll be doing farmers markets with the cart at Broad and South Street so we’ll be out in other neighborhoods,” she explains.
As for establishing a franchise Chang is a bit hesitant. For now, she’s concerned with quality over quantity and providing the neighborhood with tasty frosty treats.