The snow cone business might sound great, but it takes more than just an idea to succeed in any business. Indeed this is a profitable venture, especially as we approach summer and warmer weathers. However, in most states, you need to first make sure you have all the business licenses available before you can set out your snow cone stand.

In some states these cost as little as $50 in total, while in many others it may run up to a couple of hundreds, but it should not run any more than that. The cost of acquiring these licenses also varies if you have a lawyer draw up business papers for you, or if you choose to do it yourself and hand the application into the courthouse personally. These fees can usually be made up with one or two good days.

The supplies you need to run the snow cone business may also vary too; most of these will at least be in the same price range. For materials like paper cups, plastic spoons, or Styrofoam cups, do not be afraid to search around locally for a Sam’s Club, Costco, or other wholesale stores that might give you the best deal. These types of overhead materials are cheap, and when bought wholesale they often cost only pennies per snow cone sold.

In terms of your actual overhead supplies, the concentrate syrup for mixing ingredients will cost the most, and a gallon of this can run anywhere from $30 – 50 depending on flavour and vendor. Look around for sales, especially when buying in bulk as some places offer steep discounts for bulk orders.

Indeed, the upfront costs do add up, but a snow cone business has some really amazing profit margins, and it does not take that many little league games, flea markets, or big days to make up a good chunk of that initial investment. What it takes is a few good days to bring in enough cash to make up for your investment, and after that it is pure profit. Selling snow cones is a profitable summer business or year-round career in hot climates because costs are relatively low compared to potential revenue. You can choose to set up a snow cone ice machine at a soccer or little league park, adding your bottles of sparkling, coloured syrup and watch the customers come running.

There are not many businesses where you can count on pocketing a hundred or several hundred dollars in cash for a few hours of work just a week after starting. For instance, if you are in an area where incomes and average prices allow you to charge even more, then that’s even better! Even in an area known for low prices, the sheer profit margin that comes from selling snow cones means you are going to be having some really good days. One promising aspect of this business is that you are looking at high demand during hot days, and the sheer amount of sales with a high profit margin means you’ll be very happy – especially since every payment is made in cash.

How to Build a Simple Snow Cone Stand

DIY is indeed rewarding. It means you will be building everything from your stand to your brand. The DIY route will be a large financial and even larger time investment. Not to mention this route will take a considerable amount of skill.

Because your stand/shack, equipment and product will all have to pass inspection, DIY may not always be the most practical option. So, if you decide to construct your own simple snow cone stand, below are the materials and detailed steps of building your own stand.

  • Party Station or any other base you choose
  • 2 – Cedar fence pickets (1/2″ x 5 ½″ x 6′)
  • 3 – 2″ x 2″ x 8′ boards
  • 2 – 1″ x 2″ x 8′ boards
  • ½″ plywood or equivalent
  • 1 ½″, 2 ½″ and 3″ screws
  • 1″ pocket screws
  • Brad nails
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint
  • Fabric
  1. The Base

First cut the cedar fence pickets to 52″ long. Consider trimming the edges with the table so they can be straight, though it is not totally necessary. Drill pocket holes along one edge and join the two cedar boards together. Once the glue is dried, consider sanding the cedar pickets. For the stand sign, cut out the letters from ½ plywood scrap pieces. If you do not want to cut out the letters, you can always just paint it.

Trace the letters on the wood and cut out using a band saw, scroll saw or jig saw. Take your time to lightly sand and prime the letters, then paint them with Rust-oleum Magenta and finish with Rust-oleum pink glitter spray paint. After the paint is dry, glue and attach to the cedar sign with ¾″ brad nails.

  1. Attaching The Stand and Sign

Cut 2 of the 2 x 2s to 84″ long. You will have to make notches in the vertical supports, especially if the party cart has sliding tops that stick out past the side about ¼″. Measure 31″ from the bottom and make a notch 1 ¾″ long and about 3/8″ deep (or enough that your party station top will still slide.) Attach the sign to the vertical supports with 1 ½″ screws, making it flush with the top.

  1. Attaching the Roof Frame

Cut 2 pieces of 2 x 2 to 19 ½″ with a 30 deg mitre on one end. Cut 2 pieces of 2×2 to 26″ long with a 60 deg mitre on one end and 30 deg on the other. To cut the 30 deg, you can use the mitre gauge on your table saw. Another option is to measure and mark the angle and make the cut with a circular saw.

Attach the pieces together with 2 ½″ screws as indicated. Use 2 ½″ screws and attach the canopy frame just below the sign. Also attach the sign/canopy frame to the backside of the party cart with 3″ screws; you’ll probably want to pre-drill the holes to reduce splitting the wood. Place the vertical supports so the screws will go into the party station frame.

  1. Attach Canopy

Cut the 1″ x 2″ boards to 52″. Mount one of the 1×2’s to the lower edge of the canopy frame with brad nails or screws. To mount the canopy, consider cutting the sheet and staple the cut edge of the sheet to a 1″ x 2″ x 52″ and wrap it around the board a few times.

You can also temporarily mount it to the canopy frame to mark the hem lines. Remember to mark and pin the hem and sew it in. Use brad nails to attach the upper canopy piece. To keep the fabric tight, you can use white thumb tacks along the lower 1×2. This will help keep the fabric in place in the wind.

Generally, the cost of building a snow cone stand can vary greatly depending on what type of a stand you plan to build. In fact, this expense is the single biggest factor in determining start up costs. Building snow cone stands range anywhere from $400 to $4,000. There is also a ton of variety between these two extremes, but many people will prefer to start out with snow cone stands that are well under $1,000.

Conclusion

Many people usually prefer starting out with a small and simple stand like the one described above. There is nothing wrong with starting cheap and working your way up (especially with how often the snow cone business does not even feel like work), but what if the early demand for your snow cones is three or four times what you can provide?

Not only do all those profits walk away, but you will end up having to get a larger and more expensive snow cone stand anyway. Take the time to make sure you are making the right decision on this one.

Ajaero Tony Martins