Ashley and Greg Garrison, owners of four-decades-old The Hop Ice Cream since 2008, call themselves “joy makers.” Now, in the midst of the public health crisis that has shut down countless small businesses in Asheville, the couple are resolved to keep churning out happiness.
“When we had to let over 40 employees go, unplug the freezers in our stores and close those doors, it was an indescribable feeling,” remembers Greg Garrison. “Ashley was looking through Facebook and found a site that was sharing links to local businesses to purchase gift certificates.”
That site was #AshevilleStrong, and as it turns out, the Garrisons knew founder Catherine Campbell, owner of Bright Planning Marketing Co.
“We went to school together at [UNC Asheville] and stayed in touch since we all became business owners,” says Greg. “It felt good to team up with someone we knew who was doing something good for our community. Right away we sold some certificates, and though it didn’t generate a ton of money, it was something positive to latch onto in a situation that was pretty devoid of that. In the most desolate time we have ever experienced in business, this was a way people could offer support.”
The Hop opened an online order system for curbside pickup at The Creamery manufacturing facility in West Asheville, then Greg reached out to Campbell to see how they could pay it forward. The result was a plan to collaborate with local restaurants to create #AshevilleStrong pints using something already on their menu.
The first flavor rollout on April 28 was 12 Bones Key Lime Pie. “We’ve collaborated with 12 Bones before and knew Key lime pie is on their menu, so we can use the ice cream pickups to remind our customers that 12 Bones is still doing takeout.”
Root Down Banana Pudding is next. “Dano [Holcomb, Root Down Kitchen owner] is another friend from UNCA who is always there to help in the community. Catherine is going to help us identify other partners to work with. The more collaborations, the better for everyone,” says Greg.
Order #AshevilleStrong pints and other Hop flavors at avl.mx/prub for curbside pick up at 167 Haywood Road, 2-8 p.m. Tuesdays and noon-6 p.m. Saturdays.