Few businesses have been around since the very first Old Town Farmers Market, but Clovis’ Glacier Bay Shave Ice continues to sell the same treat 30 years later.
Owner Julie Crowell remembers the beginnings of the farmers market we know today. From a small ice-cream social held on Thursdays to a big community gathering on Fridays that draws in crowds from all over the Central Valley, Crowell and co-owner Ellen Bell have been there every step of the way.
Glacier Bay Shave Ice has never missed a Friday night at the market — never.
Bell has been a part of the business for about 25 years and she is best with the paperwork, and Crowell focuses on the staffing and other logistics-based issues.
“Through the years we grew with the market and of course it has continued to grow. We’ve moved through several locations throughout the years as we started out in front of the Dewitt building (formerly Roscoe’s) and when they started construction there we moved in front of Sassano’s and then finally Fourth and Pollasky.”
As the farmers market grew in Clovis, the set ups between farm goods and food businesses were being juggled before the Clovis Farmers Market was certified.
“Clovis has been very good to us and we like to think we helped out Clovis a little bit, but to succeed in the farmers market with one item, one price, there is a sense of pride,” Crowell said. “We never did sell anything besides shave ice for 30 years and we’ve always had faithful and new customers.”
Glacier Bay Shave Ice isn’t just known around the Clovis Farmers Market, the company also operates at sporting events and other high-profile events. The company went from a single set up with a hot dog cart as a side business, to three set ups today and many more employees.
The company has seen steady growth throughout the years despite only selling one product. It’s a testament to the community in which they work in, but also to the hard work of both owners and staff in making a product a must have for the last 30 years.
Crowell and Bell have been in business so long, they are now selling shave ice to the kids of kids they used to sell to decades ago and to the family of former employees who worked there as a youth, but that’s part of having exceptional customer service and a must-have product.
People just keep coming back.
“There have been families that we had sold shave ice to in the past and they have come back with their own families,” Crowell said. “They are all up and grown now and they come back with their own kids. We have former employees too, who bring their kids.”
Crowell opened the company almost 32 years ago after getting tired of her old job in Fresno. She was given a chance to purchase the shave ice setup and has been growing the business ever since.
The very first event they sold shave ice at was Cinco De Mayo at the Fulton Mall over 30 years ago.
“We had no idea what we were doing at that time and of course, it just blossomed from there into birthdays, family reunions and then we picked up Fresno State football games and softball games.”
Crowell and her company did many other events as well, as the years went on.
For the company’s future, all signs point to continued success. With the farmers market still increasing in popularity year-by-year, expect Crowell and Bell’s shave ice business to continue satisfying the sweet tooth of many Clovis community members for the foreseeable future.