Every month, Awesome Kingston gives away a $1,000 micro-grant to a local project pitched by its creator(s). These days, the pitch party is happening virtually, but the outcome is still the same: No-strings-attached money is given to the winner to help them develop the projects that Awesome Kingston thinks will keep Kingston awesome.
B’s Bike Bites, a new mobile ice cream and beverage business here in Kingston, was the winner of Awesome Kingston’s April grant. During the summer of 2020, Bailey, a then 17-year-old Kingstonian, developed the dream for the business with his parents, Amber Potter and Aaron Visser. After running their first season, the family saw some areas to upgrade the equipment to make it a more independent process for Bailey.
Bailey, or B, is the peddler and pedal-er, said his mom, Amber Potter. He brings delicious treats to suit the season on his retro dickie dee bike. B has autism and is non-verbal, but he loves to meet people and he loves to bike, so starting this business was a perfect match.
“Bailey is non-verbal and has autism, but he is also a 17-year-old guy that wants to work, like his brother and sister, so he can treat himself to a burger, onion rings and a rootbeer occasionally without asking his mom,” Potter shared with Kingstonist. “He works really hard to pedal that large ice cream bike.”
Having already purchased a new bike that is easier for B to pedal, Potter said the money will go toward technology to help B process transactions more easily, a large chest freezer to allow them to purchase their treats in bulk, and toward eventually expanding their fleet.
“A good bike costs around $3,000 and it is our goal this year, that by the end of the season, we will be able to purchase another bike and hire our first future employee next year,” Potter said. “We have a big demand around Kingston and our hope is to continue to add a new bike every year covering a different area. We think this will give lots of opportunity to young adults with exceptionalities that might have a hard time working in a typical work environment. The beauty of this is that it can be adapted in many ways to fit the needs of the individual.”
The Point of Sale system, essentially an IPad with software, will allow Bailey to enter orders and the tablet will read them back to customers. This tech will help with communication, and the transactional math.
Potter said it took them half the summer season to get this business up and running last year.
“We had what we consider HUGE success with the wonderful support from our community,” she continued. “We have had such a strong following and we have had people drive from Napanee and Coburg come out just to show their support.”
This year, B’s Bike Bites hope to launch on the May 24 weekend, which would be a great improvement on last year.
“We like that we can bring a bit of joy to the summer and create something to look forward to. I think this year will be even better than last, especially with the help of this grant, making things a little smoother,” Potter said. “The way we measure success does differ slightly from traditional business models, however. Although profit is a priority and part of this learning process for Bailey, we are really focused on his happiness and passion for his work, his development of learning and skills, his independence, and raising community awareness and acceptance of differently-abled people.”
Story by Jessica Foley, The Kingstonist, for the Local Journalism Initiative