“I only eat vegetables and hot fudge sundaes!” laughed Jim as I sat down to talk with him and his daughter, Kathy, about their famous ice cream shop in Royal Oak (located on 11 Mile between Main and Campbell). Jim opened Jim’s Frostie Treats in 1974 after owning the building as a Dairy Queen for five years. After receiving a family inheritance and commissioning his wife for a design, the well-known Jim’s sign went up announcing Jim’s as a private company. At just 11 years old his daughter Kathy started working there, and in 2000 she officially bought the business from her father.
Over all these years Jim’s has become a Royal Oak landmark – from its superman phone booth to its “Think 78 and bikinis” sign. Both have been featured in local newspapers, news casts and even in a MooseJaw catalog! When I asked Jim about my favorite bikini sign, he reminisced about purchasing the wood for only $10 from a shop across the street and then lettering the sign himself. Now the positive message stays up all winter until it’s finally warm enough to open up shop again.
Jim and Kathy are blood related, but their employees and customers are all a part of the Jim’s family. “Most of our employees work here for years throughout high school and college,” Kathy explained. “And when they grow up, they come back with their families – we all keep in touch.”
Jim then went on to describe his relationship with regulars, “We know some customer’s orders by the cars they drive.” One of his favorite customers was a truck driver who would stop by all the time -they would have his shake waiting on the counter before his truck even pulled into the parking lot. Kathy chimed in with one of her favorite stories -a bus driver who would park his bus (still full of people) on 11 Mile and run up to the counter to order something when the road wasn’t busy.
Both Kathy and Jim are proud to be part of the Royal Oak community. “It’s a really great neighborhood, you start to remember customers and we’ve really gotten to know everyone around here,” Kathy said.
Jim’s employees do come out from behind the counter and engage with the community in other ways. For example, every Wednesday and Friday they’ll have movie nights where residents can come and enjoy an ice cream and movie projected on the wall across from the shop. They also have fun events like Super Hero day where employees dress up as super heroes and customers can enjoy discounts for dressing up as well.
Jim’s has also recently started reaching out to customers online. Kathy started a Facebook page in 2010 and she offers fans exclusive deals throughout the week. For example, every Tuesday, she posts a secret word that you can say at the counter for a discount. My personal favorite is Temperature Thursday-you get the high temperature of the day off of your total price (77 degrees = 77 cents off)!
According to Jim, the most popular ice cream choice by far is the Reese’s Cup Flurry, and for the kids, a Gummy Island float. Kathy says she does encourage customers and employees to come up with their own flurry creations though-if it’s good enough they might even add it to the menu!
As a long time Jim’s fan, I was elated when they invited me to see the inner-workings of the shop. Jim kindly showed me the freezer and how the machines worked. I also got a glimpse of the birthday decorations the employees made for Kathy in which she was named “the real superman of Jim’s.” And of course I couldn’t leave empty handed, Kathy made me my favorite: a cookie dough flurry with chocolate ice cream!
Make sure to Like Jim’s on Facebook and follow their page for updates and discounts! What flurry creation will you try when you visit next?