Most people can’t imagine their teens owning a business, but 13-year-old Caiden Owens and 16-year-old Austin Owens are running the Chill Shop in Terrace, learning lots and having fun.
They decided last fall to buy the ice cream and candy shop, located on Hwy16 just northwest of the Sande Overpass, and they’ve been busy, busy lately, scooping ice cream and keeping the freezer fully stocked for the summer customers.
Believe it or not, the idea of buying the shop was first sparked by their mom, Jennifer Maillet, who owns Willow Creek Childcare and Willow Creek Nursing.
As a passionate entrepreneur, Maillet says she wanted to challenge the boys to learn and tackle the real-life challenges of running a business.
“I think it’s important for them to understand the aspects of business,” she said.
“It’s not all just like ‘here! this huge revenue.’ [They should] understand staffing and all those concepts, and I figured, what better way to do it, than a small business?”
This way the boys could also contribute towards their education, she added.
Austin has been attending Brentwood College School, a high-end boarding school in Mill Bay near Victoria, where Caiden will attend this fall.
Caiden was one of the few Grade 8 students accepted at the Grade 9-12 institution, and since Austin was away for the early part of the year, Maillet said she saw the Chill Shop as a particular challenge for Caiden.
“Caiden’s brilliant,” she said, “so he needed to be challenged in a way that a textbook couldn’t challenge him.”
Caiden home schooled last fall so he could finish by March, and take on running the Chill Shop full time.
His main job is keeping track of all the candy and ice cream, ordering it from down south to ensure he has enough for customers.
It involves coordinating freezer space, how much is still in stock, and what the demand might be.
“I know that pistachio, I won’t sell more than a bucket in a weekend, but I will sell two or three of the cotton candy,” Caiden said.
“So I know I have to order more cotton candy.”
At the shop, Caiden also scoops ice cream, and cleans and restocks, while his mom does most of the paperwork and staff scheduling.
Caiden says he was both excited and nervous last fall at the idea of buying the shop.
“I always thought it would be cool to get a job,” Caiden said, “but if you owned your own business, that’d be awesome — like, show off to your friends a little bit,” he grinned.
“I was really, really excited, but I was also kinda nervous about how this would affect my life. Like, I’d be working all the time, wouldn’t have time to hang out with my friends as much,” he said.
Now Caiden admits that it was more than he expected, but he also enjoys the work at the shop, especially scooping ice cream with his buddies.
“I have lots of fun at the Chill,” he said. “We’re all friends… me ‘n’ Connor are good buddies… and [all the other staff] all people we know.”
Austin is back now for the summer, and sharing the management of the Chill Shop with Caiden.
“We’ve been looking at stuff online, expanding our options, looking at bringing stuff from Toronto — like deep fried crickets and stuff,” Austin said.
Looking ahead, Austin says they are hiring staff and hoping to keep the Chill Shop open as long as possible this fall.
Both brothers leave for school at the end of August, managing the shop from a distance as long as they can make a profit.
One exciting thing coming up, is that the Terrace Chill Shop will be represented in Victoria at a massive Brentwood school regatta.
Austin and Caiden are opening a mini Chill Shop branch that weekend, scooping ice cream for the estimated 1,600 athletes that travel to the event from all over B.C. and the U.S.