Virginia Muller cannot sit still. So having free time during the summer did not go over well with the MU composition teacher.
Two years ago, she decided to fill her schedule by opening up what she calls a “microbusiness.” In search of a type of business that would give her freedom to go where she wanted and talk to whom she wanted, Muller bought a tricycle from a company in New York City and decided to sell ice cream to Columbians from the bike.
“I wanted to have something that was just mine, and I didn’t have to rely on anyone else to do it,” Muller said.
Muller said starting up the business was not difficult. The most aggravating process was filling out all of the paperwork so she could receive a business license.
But the paperwork shouldn’t be an insurmountable obstacle to potential business owners, she said.
“If you have a chunk of time, go for it,” Muller said.
Like her business, the type of ice cream she sells is unique. The bars she sells are organic, unlike the bars regularly sold in grocery stores.
The ice-cream bars she sells are made with organic milk, and the fruit bars she sells contain no pesticides or preservatives. Her soy-based bars are also made of organic soy.
A group of people in Columbia buy the organic products from a warehouse in Blooming Prairie, Iowa. The products are dropped off at the Root Cellar in Columbia, where Muller buys the ice cream about once a month, she said.
Muller’s bike is hibernating in her back yard until spring. She is keeping it warm with a tarp while she waits out the cold weather. For Muller, the thought of spring and the freedom of riding her tricycle is keeping her warm during these cold months.
She said having extra ice cream when temperatures cooled was not a problem for her.
“I have two children and they eat it for me,” she said.
Keeping the bars frozen when she rides around on her bike is also not a problem for Muller: She packs dry ice into a case on the front of her tricycle.
She sells the bars up and down Ninth Street, Broadway and Cherry Street; at the Farmers Market or in her own neighborhood.
Three bells attached to the handles of her tricycle ring when the bike moves. The sound alerts customers when she comes to the neighborhood bearing treats. She sells the organic ice-cream bars for $2.50, the soy bars for $2 and the fruit bars for $1.50.
Until the weather warms, Muller will have to keep herself busy in the classroom.
“Be ready to make hay when the sun shines and have some other interest you can be productive about,” she said.
She is looking forward to the day warmer weather allows her to bring out her tricycle.
“It’s fun to work for yourself. It’s a whole new lesson of being the boss and the employee,” she said.