With business booming, Moomers moves into milk

TRAVERSE CITY – Moomers Homemade Ice Cream is the ultimate Field of Dreams success story.

What was literally the product of a dream for owners Nancy and Bob Plummer, is now easily Grand Traverse's favorite place for ice cream. Each night, all summer long, crowds drive for miles, forming a line that runs out the door, for a cone or dish of Moomers' frozen delights.

When Bob and Nancy Plummer opened that door for the first time in April of 1998, many doubted Moomers' potential. It was, after all, located five miles from downtown Traverse City, and the Plummers had no prior experience making ice cream much less operating such a business.

But the Plummers decided to ignore the skepticism and moved forward with their plans-and what they found is the sweet taste of success. In its first year, Moomers sold 4,200 gallons of ice cream; this year, that number will be more like 30,000.

A few years ago, Moomers expanded into wholesale, allowing over 35 businesses spanning from the far reaches of Benzie County to Empire to serve its coveted ice cream. This summer Moomers set an all-time record of 2,015 items sold in one day, and the Plummers estimate that sales in June and July will reflect a 20 percent increase from last summer.

Though they're thoroughly enjoying their success, the Plummers, now joined by son Jon in operating and managing the business, have their sights set on their next field of dreams-a creamery where the Plummers will bottle their own milk for use in both their own ice cream as well as for sale to the public. It will be located on their 80-acre farm, adjacent to Moomers Homemade Ice Cream.

"These days, you have to really think outside the box to make a living as a farmer," said Jon, citing a nearby 21,000-acre farm that was recently sold to a developer.

"Either we diversify or we quit farming," added his father.

The Plummers are currently calling this new venture "Moomers Farm Creamery." Based on feedback from a customer survey they conducted this summer, Moomers Farm Creamery will initially offer hormone-free, non-homogenized 2% milk in half-gallon plastic bottles, adding to it other varieties of milk as well as possibly cheese and butter as the business progresses.

Bob's initial goal is to sell 100 gallons of milk each day.

"We have had a lot of positive feedback," said Nancy of the survey and their plans for the creamery.

The Plummers also plan to offer field trips and self-guided educational tours through the creamery and the adjacent farm animal "observation barn," a natural tendency given Nancy's former 27-plus years career as an elementary teacher.

Moomers Farm Creamery will debut in the spring of 2007, coinciding with the commencement of Moomers Homemade Ice Cream's 10th Anniversary celebration. Also in the pipeline with a possible 2007 debut are Moomers' homemade sundae toppings for sale at Moomers as well as online.

To follow along on Moomers' creamery plans, visit www.moomers.com.