Ben & Jerry’s ice cream stores on both de Maisonneuve and McGill-College have been experiencing erratic ice cream supplies since the end of the fall. Employees have tried to be creative in order to keep customers satisfied.
“Some customers are very upset when they don’t get the specific flavour that they want,” said the owner/operator of the McGill – College branch of Ben & Jerry’s, Mike Garneau. He went on to describe a time when a woman cried in the store because they had run out of Chocolate Therapy.
Because of the erratic supply of flavours and Ben & Jerry’s almost cult-status among customers, employees are forced to be creative to keep customers satisfied.
“I’ve made up crazy milkshakes I’ve never thought of before,” said employee and Concordia student Christina Barazin. She said it could be stressful on staff to tell people when they come that there are not very many flavours of ice cream. Having so few flavours has forced customers to try new ones, or to try a sorbet.
“Sales, during that period when we were down to like three flavours . sales were like halved,” said Ben & Jerry’s manager Guzzo Desforges. He said a lot of customers, most of whom are Concordia students, walk out.
“[For] ice cream, it’s like you’ve got a craving or it’s like ‘I did shitty on my mid-term, I’m getting Chocolate Fudge Brownie,'” said Barazin. “If it wasn’t here, I’d be a bit crushed.”
Barazin’s feelings about ice cream are echoed by Concordia students Danielle Mayer and Jasmine Dixon, both Ben & Jerry’s regulars. “Chocolate Fudge Brownie is the greatest ice cream of all time,” said Mayer. Though both students were passionate about their favourite flavours, last week when Ben & Jerry’s was out of stock, they tried the frozen yogurt at the urging of an employee. They said it wasn’t the same.
Both Garneau and Desforges blame the supply problems on the distributor. The distributor for the de Maisonneuve branch, Atlas Cold Storage, could not be reached for comment at press time.
Garneau said the distributors do not want to deliver the small orders of ice cream they receive weekly in the winter. They would rather wait and make a larger delivery every two or three weeks, a strategy Garneau said is more profitable for the distributing company. He also blames Canada’s regulations on dairy imports, put in place to protect Canadian dairy farmers. Because Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is made in Vermont, there is a limit to how much the Montreal-based stores can import.
The de Maisonneuve branch of Ben & Jerry’s has just received a shipment of 25 boxes of ice cream — not very much according to Barazin. The store was unsure at press time when its other previous orders of ice cream would arrive.
When asked if there was anything he wanted to say, Desforges said “let the people know. We feel bad.”
The McGill College Ben & Jerry’s franchise is offering “Buy One-Get One” free ice cream for the next week to anyone bringing in a copy of this article. NOTE: The offer is valid only at the McGill College location.