Siblings open Tustin ice cream shop

TUSTIN – With five years worth of 4-H money, encouragement from their parents and a dose of youthful optimism, siblings Rachel and Derek Hartline opened an ice cream store in their hometown.

The young entrepreneurs started the Dairy Station on May 5 in Tustin, offering customers a variety of ice cream flavors both hand-dipped and soft-serve, as well as a few food items.

Selecting what to place on the menu was just one of the important decisions Derek, 14, and Rachel, 17, made when opening the new business, along with the store’s hours, building decor and name.

“(We chose) Dairy because of ice cream, and station because we used to always call this the station,” Derek said. “It was Grandpa’s station.”

The business, located at 100 West Church Street in Tustin, was once their grandfather’s mechanical service station many years ago and has since been rented out to other businesses before becoming the family ice cream store.

The building is now owned by their parents, who also have their name on the business checking account and help with the book work, but the siblings are registered on state taxes as the business owners.

“Technically, they’re the owners but they can’t hold a checking account,” said Tonia Hartline, Rachel and Derek’s mother. “They’re the owners, we just guide them.”

Along with learning the ins and outs of running a business, Rachel and Derek also have learned that success doesn’t come without investment.

Each sibling contributed $2,000 they had saved from selling goats, pigs, chickens and turkeys at 4-H fairs and shows. Their parents helped purchase the shop’s equipment, but the sibling’s money paid for the first inventory order.

“Their first order was $2,500 and the rest was used for cash flow and paying their employees,” Tonia said.

The business has eight employees, some are school-aged teens and some are area residents including Rachel and Derek’s parents and grandmother, who are proud of the pair’s hard work.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Sarah Hartline, Rachel and Derek’s grandmother. “(Running a business) is a good experience for them.”

Derek and Rachel agree that owning a business together is a good experience, teaching them to be patient with each

other and communicate well.

“We get on each others’ nerves sometimes if we’re having a bad day,” Rachel said. “It’s easier to get irritated with him than with other people.”

Despite the occasional sibling tiff, the two work well together, Tonia said, directing employees and leading the group well during a rush of customers.

“They’ve both done a very good job taking on the responsibility,” Tonia said. “When they’re working, they both are very good leaders. If we have a huge group come in, it flows really well.”

A rush of customers has not been uncommon during the first month of business, as the residents, friends and community members came for a lick of their favorite ice cream.

“We have vanilla, chocolate and twist for soft serve and nine flavors of (hand dipped),” Derek said.

The Dairy station stocks flavors including peanut butter brownie, country apple pie, scout’s honor mint cookie, butter pecan, superman and raspberry sorbet. Choices are rotated regularly and a sugar-free option always is available.

“Everyone is really excited about it,” Rachel said. “They think it’s really cool and we’re lucky we have jobs.”

Out of school for the summer, the pair will work at the station around 20 hours each week. They expect a successful future for their business.

“It’s all up hill from here,” Rachel said. “Hopefully the rest of the summer months are good like May was, and next year too.”

The Dairy Station is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 9 p.m Sunday until Labor Day.

For more information and to find out which flavors are in stock, contact the store at (231) 884-5698.