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ICE CREAM DREAMS
Philip Edwards, GRHS Class of 1991, owns several small businesses, including a vape shop, a glass-blowing studio and a pressure-washing service. When the pandemic shut down the fastest-growing one, a tour business, Edwards and his wife, Lisa Wright, turned their attention to his childhood dream...an ice cream shop.
My first day of school at Clara Coleman Elementary School in 1978 was a culture shock. The girls loved my accent and overalls and how different I was. Of course, this made the boys see me as a challenge, and the first day I was surrounded by them on the playground during recess and put to the test. A small scrap with the ringleader quickly earned me a grudging respect, and a visit to the principal. I was five years old. My first day of school, and my mother was called to pick me up early. The principal quickly realized we were cut from a different cloth when he met my mother that first day. My family had left our lives in rural Georgia and had had just moved to Glen Rock – a radical change.
While I was sitting outside the office as they spoke, a classmate named Michelle stopped by to check on me. After a brief conversation, she kissed me on the cheek before running off giggling. Instantly, I was in love with my new home.
Over the next 12 years I would fall in love with many aspects of the town, including the county park trails, the wooded hills behind Hamilton School where most of the town’s youth snow sledded, Turvino’s (my first job), the small-town vibe, the Bagel Gourmet bagel shop (my second job), Van Dyk’s (technically Ridgewood) and, of course, the fair that came each year. Many of the old friends made back then are still in touch today.
For a small town, Glen Rock had a massive impact on my life that I still carry here in the Deep South where I returned to live, in Alabama, where most of my family is from. The town is called Wetumpka, and its population is just over 8,000. Aspects of it remind me of Glen Rock; everyone knows each other and if anything of note happens, it is discussed at every dinner table in town that night. What we were missing, however, were the unique mom and pop businesses. My wife Lisa and I decided to be the change.
First, we opened a boutique, heavily inspired by A Touch of Glass on Rock Road. It took a few years to catch on, but soon our community loved our unique offerings. The space next to us became available and we expanded into Grateful Dead-inspired tapestries, handmade jewelry, and custom t-shirts.
I had originally planned to open an ice cream shop, which brings me to remembering Mr. Kodama, my Glen Rock Little League baseball coach. Our team was akin to the Bad News Bears…we stunk. Every weekday, he shuttled me and the other kids to a local field and worked with us relentlessly. As we started to show progress, Mr. Kodama made us an offer: Win a game and he would take the team for ice cream at Van Dyk’s. I still recall the day our team sat outside, savoring our victory and drinking in the moment while slurping down the ice cream. I boldly proclaimed that one day, I was going to own a place like this. We all laughed.
The cost of renovating our space in Wetumpka and purchasing all the necessary ice cream equipment was originally beyond our reach, so we worked relentlessly on our other retail ventures. Years later, we revisited the ice cream shop idea, and... Heady Scoops n Smoothies just celebrated its first year. We’ve added delivery, without app services, modeling it after Turvino’s service.
We didn't stop at ice cream. In early October, Heady’s expanded to offer breakfast, selling Taylor Ham-egg- and-cheese bagels, just like at the old Bagel Gourmet. Without fully realizing it, I was recreating the best aspects of my youth into my dream businesses, and our small southern town can’t get enough.
I will never be able to fully honor a town that gave me so much, but it feels wonderful to pay homage in my own small way to such a special place. 🍦