Teens start a new tasty business
Siblings Rachel and Derek Hartline of Tustin, in Osceola County, are longtime members of Michigan 4-H.
Turning an idea into action is something this brother and sister duo have mastered. So when the Hartlines wanted to do something different with the money they had saved up from their 4-H efforts, they turned a long-time family idea into reality.
In May 2012, Derek and Rachel opened an ice cream parlor. Their family already owned a local building with available space that provided a perfect location for a new business.
Now the space that once housed their grandfather's auto business, Walt's Service, houses Tustin's latest ice cream attraction.
"The building was originally a gas station and our family called it the station," Derek explained. "Dairy is in ice cream so the name became the 'Dairy Station.'"
Rachel had a hunch that everyone wants ice cream, especially on a hot summer day and she was right. Residents no longer have to travel to nearby Cadillac or Reed City to get their fix of sweets.
"Ice cream is pretty simple and something that everybody loves, so it's bound to work," Rachel said.
The Dairy Station is owned and operated primarily by 18-year-old Rachel and 15-year-old Derek, with occasional help from their parents.
Taking on this huge responsibility has taken commitment and dedication. Experience in raising and selling animals through 4-H helped the Hartlines learn how to save money and do what it takes to be successful.
"It's hard work, but it's totally worth it in the end, just like with 4-H and selling and raising animals," Rachel said.
Her roles around the Dairy Station include maintaining the bookwork for the store. She and Derek together make sure that everything is stocked and not out dated.
"I just want the store to keep going well and maybe expand in the future," she said. "Whether with food, slushies, coffee, ice cream, you name it-as long as the public wants it, we will try to do it."
Derek knows equally how important the Dairy Station is to his community and for his goals for the future.
"I want to make enough money to save up for college and to expand my business," he said.
The Dairy Station offers not only traditional flavors such as superman, mint chocolate chip and moose tracks - Rachel and Derek have also come up with original flavor names that are sure to give kids, and their parents, an even more memorable experience. Happy Camper, Salty Cowamel, Maple Butter Blondie and Peppermint Crackle will make your mouth water and are new to the station this year.
The Hartlines have impressed the local community with more than their flavors.
"It's really easy to impress people when I tell them that I own my own ice cream store. They always think it's really cool, because it really is," Rachel said. "Everyone seems to love that we are here and opened the store."
Now, well into their second year of business, Rachel and Derek have been able to showcase skills such as responsibility, financial education and communication - skills they learned during their years with Michigan 4-H.