When Aaron Buza and his wife Kari were approached about taking over ownership of Downtown Scoops in Alpena, they were honored and excited. Established in 2011 by Chris and Missi LeFave, Downtown Scoops has delighted local residents and visitors with their homemade waffle cones, unique flavor varieties, old-fashioned ice cream parlor feel, and friendly customer service.
Serving as operations manager since 2010, Aaron said he was surprised when the previous owners approached him about taking over the business. “I was really honored that they had the faith in me to take over the business and continue to serve our returning customers and continue to grow the business into the future,” he said. “We’re trying to change the narrative for our place in Downtown Alpena,” Aaron said. “We see ourselves as going beyond ice cream to help play a role in the growth of the downtown.”
Since officially taking ownership in January of 2017, the Buza’s have blazed forward full-speed ahead. Their approach to customer service goes beyond ice cream to consider the entire experience someone has while in Alpena. Knowing that ice cream is just one of many stops along a person’s visit to the area, Buza trains his staff to help answer questions about Alpena from customers to help them have a fulfilling experience.
“I talk to my customers every chance I get so I understand what brought them here and what they’re doing while they are here. One of my favorite customer stories is a family from Kentucky that discovered Alpena while watching the Major League Fishing tv show on the Outdoor Channel that the [Alpena Area] Convention & Visitors Bureau had filmed here in Alpena. Since that first show, they’ve come back every year, grandparents, grandchildren, everyone, to fish on Long Lake. I know that while they may be here primarily to fish, they’re also going out to eat, shopping, and of course, getting some ice cream,” he said. Aaron went on to share the he has met people from all over Michigan and other states that have found Alpena the same way. His motto is the ‘customer is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.’ He understands that if he can help a customer discover other places around Alpena to explore or try then they will have a better experience overall and be more likely to return in the future.
Another part of their ongoing effort to play a role in the bigger picture is stretching their offerings to extend the number of months they are open. Even though the weather is getting colder, you can still pop into Scoops and find all your favorite ice cream flavors plus their most recent addition to the menu, Hot Chocolate Floats. The customer gets to pick one flavor from their hand-dipped ice cream selection and they incorporate that choice into a cozy hot chocolate. Aaron said this new item is growing in popularity as it gets colder out.
…and there’s more than ice cream!
Scoops also carries an assortment of Gift Boxes for holiday gift giving with unique made in Michigan products, as well as a selection of Christmas ornaments and holiday décor. You’ll also find a ‘Taste of Michigan’ section with maple syrup from Hawks; salsa, jelly and jam from Onaway, honey from Lachine, BBQ Sauce from Southern Michigan and Shipwreck Soda from Stoney Acres Winery.
But at the end of the day, it’s still all about ice cream. The most popular flavors at Scoops are Superman and Pirates Booty. Stop in to get your favorite scoop every day, from 11 am-7 pm, until the end of December. After a winter break, they’ll reopen open in March.