Lorenzo Williams wipes the sweat from his face and helps a customer select a “Little Nemo” from the “Summer Breezes sno-cone” menu that lists over 40 flavors. He washes his hands, turns on the rumbling ice shaver, and scoops the snow into a Styrofoam cup. He adds a colorful mixture of orange and blue syrup to the treat and tops it off with a bright green straw.
The starting defensive lineman for the University of Missouri, entering in to his junior year of eligibility, believes he has found an opening in the summer dessert market.
The Midwest City, Oklahoma native, noticed when he moved to Columbia in 2003 that one of his hometown staples, the snow cone, or shaved ice business, was nearly nonexistent in Columbia.
“In Oklahoma there is a snow cone stand on every corner and there really wasn’t one here and a lot of guys were like ‘We wish we had snow cones’.” Williams said. “So I was like ‘Maybe I should start a snow cone business.’”
The 285 pound, 6-4 Williams now owns and operates the week-old business from his small trailer which offers shade for its customers, but no air conditioning for him. He jokes that he will have to be open a little longer to be able to afford to add luxury.
The same teammates who shared his love for the summer treat, Martin Rucker (tight end) and Monte Wyrick (offensive lineman) helped him come up with many of the flavor names, including the Barbie, Shrek, and Little Nemo.
“We all just tried them to just see what they tasted like and then we named them. It was pretty interesting. It was a terribly hard process, as you can imagine,” Williams said, laughing.
Many of Williams’ teammates now stop by his stand and offer to taste test his product.
Other components of Williams’ “sno-cone” business process included buying a trailer for $1,500 and a shaved ice machine from eBay.
“It’s really cheap. I had to paint it because it looked really cheap.” Williams said. “It took me about a whole day to do it.”
The artwork on the trailer, complete with island sunset scenery, adorns both sides of the stand and the festively decorated interior enhances the tropical feel with Hawaiian flowers and colorful lights. The trailer is located in front of Green Meadows Car wash, on Green Meadows Way.
The owner of the car wash, Sam James, said that he thought that Lorenzo had a good idea and was happy to let him use his land. He thinks that his business can only benefit from the snow cone stand and is interested to see how things go for the entrepreneur.
“He worked a little bit for me, but now he is pretty busy with the snow cone stand.” James said.
Although Williams business venture is only a week old he is pleased with the revenue so far. His snow cones sell for $2.50 and $3.00 for a regular and large respectively, with an additional 25 cents for extra flavors.
Williams hopes that by fulfilling the opening he sees in Columbia for snow cones his business will grow. He says that he is already starting to get a few regulars.
“After school’s out, I get kind of busy. I’ve got my four little faithful kids that drive their bikes up here every day. They’re cool.”