SEQUIM — Joe Parker was a roofer for more than 10 years, but, “it took a lot of my time, and my kids had to be in daycare.”
Now, the single father has changed his job title to Ice Cream Man, turning his kids’ and dog’s lives into an adventure full of travel, family time and plenty of cold treats.
Justin Parker, 8, said, “My two favorites are the cookies and cream sandwich and the cookies and cream ice cream bar.” He hasn’t tried them all yet.
“This is a more fun job,” Joe Parker said. “It makes people happy. That’s the best part: everyone’s happy to see the ice cream man pull up.”
The NW Treats LLC truck can be found in Sequim, Port Angeles, the Lower Elwha and Lake Sutherland areas and all points in between on any fine day. The Parkers don’t follow a set route or schedule, opting instead to build a fresh route each working day from the requests they receive from customers.
To connect with NW Treats LLC, either text to 907-987-2252 or message through Facebook at facebook.com/NWTreats.
In between scheduled destinations, the Parkers stop for spontaneous requests.
Some days see the family travel to Tacoma and Kent to restock, and other days they enjoy a hike.
Parker said these trips off the Olympic Peninsula are necessary to get “the good stuff;” he said there are no local distributors. His 52 ice cream products feature traditional favorites such as character faces with gumball eyes, snow cones and Mexican popsicles as well as seven drinks including sodas, water and Hawaiian Sun nectar drinks.
So far this flexible business model has been working well for them, Parker said. Even with a weekly gas bill he estimates at $300, he said they should be able to save enough for the family to survive through the winter.
“I plan on running the truck nearly full-time through the summer,” Parker said. “Then [after September or October] it will be very minimal through the winter.”
Parker said he was inspired to begin the business by his sister-in-law, Marnie Daniels, who has an ice cream truck in Neah Bay called Round the Rez, which, judging from Facebook, brings delight to all ages in the area, from small children carrying pennies to elders going along for the ride.
“She suggested I start one in Port Angeles,” Parker said. “I loved the idea, so I saved up money and built out the van. This allows me to spend my time with my kids, and to teach them important life lessons.”
Parker found his ice cream truck on Facebook Marketplace.
“The inverters weren’t working, and the music wasn’t working,” Parker said, so he fixed them. A friend, Jessica Trimm of URGrafix, designed the logo and another friend helped with the stickers plastered all over the truck. He says he wanted it to “look more friendly” as its old decorations had faded.
NW Treats began about two-and-a-half months ago and became popular quickly, according to Parker. Some days he “can’t even schedule everyone in.”
At a recent stop in Sequim, a steady stream of customers showed up outside of the truck: children, parents, grandparents, dogs and unaccompanied adults.
“It’s great,” Michele Black said. “It’s a fun idea. I’ve never seen one before and I’ve lived in Sequim my whole life.”
“It reminds me of my youth,” said Brandy Cabbage, stopping by with her daughter Audrey and her two friends, Katie and Megan Simpler.
“It’s a fun idea,” said Katie.
“It’s a good cause,” said Megan. “It could make a kid smile.”
“It’s awesome,” said Audrey. “I love the dog.”
Mr. Orange, an 18-month-old Belgian Malinois service dog, always rides along with the Parker children, Charlie and Justin, greeting other dogs and children with a friendly wag — and sniff, if permitted.
“We’re friendly, we’re fun,” Parker said. “We’ll drive by your house for free, even if you don’t want to buy anything.”
He said that older folks love to hear the ice cream truck and enjoy seeing it — something reminiscent of old times.
Emily Matthiessen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.