A year in, How Sweet It Is finding niche in Trumansburg

By Rob Montana
Tompkins Weekly


The approach of winter may not seem like the most opportune time to open an ice cream shop, but it has worked out well for How Sweet It Is.

Photo by Rob Montana / Tompkins Weekly.
Melissa Kenny, left, and Sarafina Payne, right, opened How Sweet It Is in Trumansburg a little more than a year ago.

Having celebrated a year of being open in November, the business owned and operated by Melissa Kenny and Sarafina Payne has grown steadily since it took up residence on Trumansburg’s Main Street.

“I really like Trumansburg, and a lot of people have come in and introduced themselves in the past year,” said Payne. “I never knew how adorable Trumansburg was until I started working here. It is a lovely place.”

“It’s a quintessential Main Street and I’ve always been enamored with it,” added Kenny, who also owns Sweet Melissa’s in Ithaca with her husband, Matt. “And we already have people who passionately love it here.”

They’ve now been in business for two Winterfests, and both owners noted that it is an event for which they’ve enjoyed being open downtown.
“Winterfest and Porchfest were so cool,” said Payne. “I didn’t realize how big an event Winterfest was, and during Porchfest, we could hear the music here.”
“Winterfest was a blast – people were out and about,” added Kenny. “I think it is kind of magical.”

She said people got excited about the shop’s homemade marshmallows, and it was a perfect time to highlight one of her favorite offerings – an affogato, which is espresso with a scoop of ice cream.

Payne, a longtime employee at Sweet Melissa’s, was happy to put her college education to use and undertake the business venture with Kenny. It is her first experience with business ownership, and she’s found it “interesting to start something from the ground up.”

“It is a lot of fun,” Payne said, “and it’s a lot of stress and worry.”

And she has learned a lot as well.

“School can only prepare you for so much,” Payne said. “Everything is theoretical or a project.

“This is real life, and you’re counting on it,” she added. “I’ve learned a lot since we opened, especially on the business side, with payroll, paying taxes. It’s so different than what you think it will be.”

The next big thing for the shop is its newly launched wholesale business.
“This place is structured to be its own entity, with Sweet Melissa’s ice cream manufactured here,” said Kenny. “We have just started selling our ice cream wholesale, which is huge.”

“Not all our Ithaca customers can make it out here,” added Payne, “so now they are able to get it year-round.”

Currently, Shortstop Deli and The Piggery are selling pints of their ice cream, and they are hoping to add more places in the coming year.
“We have our own pasteurizer, so officially we can take milk and cream, and make our ice cream completely from scratch,” said Payne. “Before that, we’d had to buy our base mix from farms.

“It’s slightly more expensive, but it’s worth it to us, because we have full control over our product,” she added. “With the wholesale business, it will offset that, so our prices won’t change.”

An important note about the ice cream – that How Sweet It Is has vegan options shouldn’t come as a surprise, but what’s slightly different than most places is that it’s made with a coconut base, so those with soy sensitivities can still enjoy it.

Going forward, Kenny is hoping the establishment can also become a host for community events. With a space in the back of the shop that features plenty of tables and seating, the opportunity is there to do just that.

“We’d like to host events to include all businesses on Main Street,” Kenny said, “and want to expand into the community more.”

And unlike most ice cream businesses – which are typically open during spring and summer – How Sweet It Is is open year-round.

“We know Trumansburg likes small businesses, so keep on liking us and stop by,” said Payne. “We’re here and we’re not going anywhere.”
For more information about How Sweet It Is, visit Facebook.com/HowSweet607.