Watching a Community Grow Up

Mary Juskevich, the owner of Baskin-Robbins, has an undergraduate degree in liberal arts and a master’s degree in education. She taught middle school math and science for about 10 years, including three years in La Plata County, before seeing an ad for the franchise, which is located in Town Plaza. “Everyone I know has grown up eating Baskin-Robbins,” said Juskevich.

She saw that there were benefits with an established brand name, especially when going into business for the first time. She said, “I thought, ‘Hey, I’m a grownup; I can do it.’”

And for three years, she has.

She added that one of the positive things about the ice cream business is being able to encourage good memories and even change moods. “People are either happy when they come in or happy when they leave,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t the occasional issue to avert, such as a dropped ice cream cone, which Juskevich replaces for no charge.

With other issues, she just tries to be helpful. “Everyone’s got their own day-to-day emotions,” she said. “Who knows what they have got going on when they come in.”

And she’s found that ice cream and her outlook on life has helped her build a community.

There is a high school student who comes in for a shake every other day, a group of guys who come in for sundaes every Wednesday, and an individual who always orders a scoop of pineapple coconut ice cream. Juskevich has seen regulars through life’s triumphs and struggles, and her employees will start making regulars’ order even before they walk in the door. “It’s our own family,” said Juskevich. “They know us and we know them. It’s not just a store. It’s not just ice cream.”

But her favorites are the children, especially those coming in after the dentist in the middle of the winter. She also offers a 2-4 happy hour special after school, and she’s enjoyed seeing the children get older. One customer started coming in with his mother as a baby, barely walking. Now, he’s in preschool. “We’re watching the community grow up,” said Juskevich.

And she’s thankful for each member of the community, which, Juskevich said, is the Four Corners area and not just Durango. “Thanks for the support—all those kids I’m watching grow up and the families that come in in the winter to support us,” said Juskevich. “I’m thankful for those who come in to get scoops and cakes even when it’s negative ten outside.”

Originally published in the November 2012 edition of the Durango Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber Connection.

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