Here’s How Much an Ice Cream Cart Costs to Start Up

At some point in our lives, we all think of having our own business, and starting an ice cream cart venture sounds doable, because, of low startup costs and high ROI. But, the question arises: how does one start?

Considering all the expenses, (apart from the pushcart) be ready to spend around $10,000 to $20,000 for your ice cream cart startup. There are chances you may not find a vehicle that suits your needs, so fret not! You can always customize a truck or step van for your business.

Well, it’s a no-brainer that you will have to buy an ice cream cart first. Remember to find one that has freezers installed in it.

Here is a breakdown of the startup costs for your ice cream cart business.

How Much Does an Ice Cream Cart Cost?

Here is a list of all the costs involved to get your ice cream business up and running.

Ice Cream Cart$3,000 to $16,000
Business License$50 to $500
Food handler’s permits$10 to $50 
Health Department Permit$50 to $1,000 
Marketing and Advertisement$3,580

After adding the lowest possible costs from the above table, the total startup costs would turn out to be around $20,000.

#1 Ice Cream Cart Costs

The price of an ice cream cart depends on its features. A brand-new high-quality ice cream pushcart without a refrigeration feature starts at around $2,900, with its price increasing over larger models. 

A brand-new high-quality ice cream push cart with a refrigerator costs around $4,500 for the smallest models. Ice cream pushcarts can even cost as much as $16,000 if they are the largest models with features like bells, cold plates, a handwashing sink, and a plug-in refrigerator. 

You can even find ice cream carts at the cost of as low as $1,000, however, these carts don’t have the features to keep your products cold. 

» I have covered more on this subject in this blog post: How Much Does an Ice Cream Truck Cost: Getting Started

Here are the type of ice cream carts and how much they cost:

Non-Refrigerated Push Cart

A non-refrigerated push cart is the most affordable option. Just as the name suggests, these carts don’t have a refrigerator system, hence ice cream cart owners use dry ice or cold packs to keep their ice cream cold. 

However, these carts are only meant for Italian ice, so if you intend to sell scooping hard ice cream or other novelties, this cart might not suit you. 

If you decide to invest in a non-refrigerator push cart, they cost around $3000.

Refrigerated Push Cart

Refrigerated push carts have a plug-in refrigerator system inside which keeps the ice cream cold. These carts are ideal for every type of ice cream since they have a built-in adjustable thermostat that allows the owner to change the cart’s temperature according to the products. 

However, these carts need to be plugged into a source of electricity for the refrigerator to work. These carts cost around $3,500 to $4,000. 

Cold Plate Push Cart

Cold plate push carts are on the expensive side but worth the investment. Cold plate carts can maintain their temperature for more than 12 hours, which makes them the ideal mobile ice cream option. 

These carts come in various options such as a plug-in option where you can change the temperature as well as a non-plug-in option where you can roam around with the cart around the city. 

These cold plate push carts can cost from $5,000 to $16,000 depending on their features and models. 

Ice Cream Tricycle

Ice cream bikes or tricycles are ice cream carts with a bike attached to them so instead of pushing them around, you can cycle around the city with them. These are perfect for people who have a hard time pushing around the pushcarts. Ice cream tricycle costs $2,500, roughly. 

#2 Licenses

Like every other business, mobile ice cream business needs to make sure that they have all the necessary licenses their state requires. 

One needs to check with their local city hall to find out all the required licenses and permits they need for their ice cream cart business. The first license an ice cream cart business would need is a business license which costs around $50 to $500, depending on the state. 

Other permits one may need for their ice cream cart are a food vendor’s permit which costs less than $50 and a health department’s certificate which costs anywhere from $50 to $1000 depending on the state. 

#3 Insurance

Among other important costs, insurance is also an important aspect of the ice cream cart business. You will need insurance coverage for both your business and the ice cream cart against sudden possible risks. You would also need liability and theft insurance. 

Apart from these, if you are confused about what kind of insurance you need for your ice cream cart business, you can consult your attorney or hire a business consultant.

A business consultant or attorney can help you with the contracts while setting up the business, sort out all your startup state and federal taxes and also make sure you have achieved all the legal requirements before hitting the road. 

Insurance can cost you around $350 and the fee for hiring a business consultant would be $2,500. 

#4 Inventory

An ice cream cart business would need inventory storage that holds all the ice cream ingredients, ice cream utensils, as well as its containers. Even if you intend on selling prepackaged ice cream, you will need to stock up on the pre-packaged ice cream.

Apart from the inventory cost, the inventory storing costs would also count since you need to invest in a long-term storage facility to keep all the unsold ice cream cold overnight.

Overall the inventory costs total up to $3,000. 

#5 Marketing and Advertising

Before you launch your ice cream cart business, make sure you plan a thorough marketing and advertising strategy. No business can be successful without being advertised through different mediums. 

An ice cream cart needs to have an attractive-looking menu filled with all your ice cream flavors. They can be printed on a bunch of flyers. You can also develop a cool design and logo for your ice cream cart to build exposure and attract as many people to your cart as possible. 

One more important detail that many ice cream carts have is their exciting music which has all the children running as soon as they hear it playing.

All these marketing costs would total up to $3,580.

#6 Equipment

Whether you decide to sell prepackaged ice cream or scooped-up gelato ice cream, you still need certain equipment to kickstart your ice cream cart business. 

The very first equipment that one needs to operate an ice cream cart is the kitchen appliances that can allow them to make the ice cream, followed by a refrigerator to store and keep the ice cream and its ingredients cold. 

Another important piece of equipment one needs is a point-of-sale system which allows them to accept payments for the ice cream they sell.

All of this equipment for the ice cream cart would cost around $10,000. 

How to Acquire Funds?

Now that you know all the startup costs for an ice cream cart business, the real question is how we acquire the funding. You can simply apply for a business loan if you don’t intend on touching your savings account. 

You can easily search for business loans around you that have the lowest percentage of interest and an overall good plan. However, you will need to have a pretty good credit score in order to be eligible for the loan.

Final Thoughts on Start-Up Costs for Ice Cream Carts

If you plan on starting a good lucrative business to earn some extra money then a mobile ice cream business is a great idea. The market is huge and the demand for this frozen treat is never going to die down. 

Overall, the average investment is $20,000 which seems like a good investment since there would be plenty of revenue coming in once you hit the road. I hope you found everything you were looking for in this article. 

About Hi' my name is Simon. I am the owner of Top Work Life. Together with a my team, I write content about income generating ideas, entreprenurship and growth as a person Read more about Simon & TopWorklife

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