New ice cream shop seeks to be positive force in the community

Elizabeth Keegan, owner of The Sugar Shack in Woodstock, holds a strawberry waffle cone outside her new business on South Main Street on Wednesday. Keegan, who has a love for ice cream, decided to open the new business with the help of her children. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Elizabeth Keegan moved to Woodstock about four years ago because she absolutely loved the town. Just one thing, however, was missing: ice cream. 

Keegan and her kids were unsuccessful in their search for an ice cream shop selling hand-dipped as opposed to soft-serve.

So she went to the town office and inquired if the town housed any such establishment. 

She said the answer was no and that the town “basically had been casting a live net for anybody to open up a hand-dipped ice cream place because it was so requested.”

She took it into her hands and prepared by undergoing classes in small business management and marketing. Those efforts resulted in the opening of the Sugar Shack at 629 S. Main St. three weeks ago.

Sarah Combs, 14, of Maurertown, takes a bite out of a cookies and cream cone outside the Sugar Shack in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Keegan said she decided that the shop would serve a rotating menu of eight Winchester-based Garber’s Ice Cream flavors instead of making  her own because “they’ve been doing it over 100 years” and there is no need “to reinvent the wheel.” 

She said customers have gravitated toward grape nut, and the shop has run through 16 tubs of the flavor in two weeks. Cones are sold for $2.50 and other offerings include root beer floats, with sundaes and banana splits to arrive soon. 

Keegan said “it’s been going really well” and the shop sold out of ice cream three times in its first six days of business.

“Garber’s never saw this coming. We now have two deliveries a week, and we doubled our storage, we have a warehouse offsite and we’ve got room for more than twice as we originally had,” she said.  

What Keegan said she has enjoyed most in the first weeks of business is witnessing families who come together.

“It’s really awesome because in an evening, there’s four generations of people out here with their dog and they put their cell phones down and they’re just socializing. They’re slowing down long enough to connect and it had me in tears the first couple of nights I saw it,” she said.

Still, in case people do need to get online, the shop offers wi-fi and she added: “Come do your homework in style.”

The location, Keegan said, “is the perfect corner to do so many things, to be a positive force in the community.”

She said she hopes to use the shop’s outside area, consisting of various tables and seating arrangements as a conductor of positive energy. That space, she said, will be used to boost local charities in events such as a July 28 car wash benefiting Family Promise, an organization that aids the homeless.

There will also be a free First Friday event on Aug. 3, with a performance by The Virginians. She said wine and beer will be sold with proceeds benefiting Response, an organization that helps sexual assault victims. She would like to encourage artists to attend such events and set up booths free of charge. 

The Sugar Shack is open Monday through Thursday 12 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.; Friday 12 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.; Sat. 11:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.