Mike Schumm
Mike Schumm
WILLSHIRE – During this weekend’s Willshire Days in a blazing heat wave, residents and visitors are finding relief at the same place where they have for the past 21 years, at Mike Schumm’s ice cream shop in the west end of town.

These days, said Schumm, over 300 customers a day are stepping up to the ordering window for ice cream products, sandwiches, fries and various kinds of drinks. Twenty employees, most of them first-time job youth, are working for the business this year but he estimated that since the shop officially opened in 1954, over 1,000 young people have gained their first opportunity at employment serving up ice cream cones.

For Schumm, the journey began on May 23, 1997, at the suggestion of his mother.

“It was my mom’s idea,” said Schumm. “I was going to school in the food career program at Vantage and working part time in an area restaurant. This place opened up and my mother said, ‘you work in a restaurant; you could run one.’ I turned 20-years old six weeks before I started managing this place.”

Ironically, during the winter months, Schumm is still cooking and washing dishes at the same restaurant where he was employed when he secured his ice cream business.

“I enjoy doing this because 99 percent of the time I enjoy working with people,” said Schumm. “I love giving kids their first job. I enjoy being busy, being on my feet.

“My employees range in age from teenagers to nearly 70-years-old,” continued Schumm. “I try to hire different people. I definitely will hire a kid who is applying for a first job.”

Schumm said the establishment has had five or six different owners over the years.

“It has been more like the Pittsburgh Steelers than the Cleveland Browns,” chuckled Schumm. “It has not had that many turnovers. We are willing to work every day, one customer at a time. We always try to treat everyone fairly.”

Schumm said that the establishment of a drive-through has helped carry the weight of customer onslaught at any time. He noted that customers utilizing drive-through can sit in cold, snow, rain or any other adverse conditions to wait on their ice cream.

Schumm runs one of the longest seasons of any ice cream place around. He usually opens the first week of March and goes to the last Sunday before Thanksgiving.

“It helps with employee retention when I do that,” said Schumm. “I love what I do. I wake up every morning and get to work to give it a good effort, regardless of the weather. I’ve slowed down a little bit. I work eight hours a day now in broken shifts.”