By Anne Maertens
Owners: Colette McNabb, Rex Hall
Opening Date: June 20
Address: 202 E. Holly St. #116
Phone: (360) 333-8689
Square Footage: 300
Paletas, translated literally to English, means “little sticks,” but for many, the word paletas conjures images of ice pops with flavors such as cucumber chili lime. These fruit-filled Popsicles inspired the creation of Little Shovels, a Popsicle shop in downtown Bellingham.
Paletas are typically found south of the border in Mexico or in barrios across the United States, but some paletarias have come to be known as creators of fine cuisine, such as Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles in Nashville, Tenn.
Having visited paletarias in Mexico and Las Paletas in Nashville, the owners of Little Shovels, Colette McNabb and Rex Hall, decided that opening a Popsicle shop would be a way for them to own an affordable business in Bellingham and integrate themselves in the community.
It took a year to create the business, having to acquire a Popsicle machine from Brazil and to test and create both water- and dairy-based flavors, but McNabb and Hall knew one thing for certain.
“The one thing that we agreed on was that we wanted to be at the 2009 summer Farmers Market,” McNabb said. “So everything was sort of tunnel-visioned on that goal.”
The Farmers Market, McNabb said, was a key way of becoming a part of the Bellingham community.
Although they have lived in Bellingham for eight years, Hall and McNabb said they have spent most of their summers working for a catering company that prepares food for different bands like The Dave Matthews Band and Jack Johnson while on tour.
“Its an awesome job,” McNabb said. “But we’ve also been living in Bellingham and not living in Bellingham for eight years.”
Not only has the Farmers Market been a successful way to be a part of Bellingham, but it also accounts for the majority of Little Shovels’ profits, and the Little Shovels shop accounts for the rest.
The shop is filled with stainless steel, a deep freeze, the Popsicle machine and a cart designed to keep the Popsicles frozen. For now, the only way to transport the cart is on foot, but fortunately, the shop is located one block from the market.
While the store is open to the public to buy Popsicles throughout the week, it isn’t designed to be a major place of business. There are no seats inside the shop. People often sit on the steps in front of the store or the half-wall that surrounds the parking lot.
Hall said because they are more interested in getting out into the public to sell the Popsicles, they want to offer catering, as well as sell to some local Mexican restaurants.
Next summer, they said, they hope to be at all the outdoor events, including the outdoor movies, music events and anything else that brings Bellingham residents together.
For now, they’re tuning up their winter business model, which could include “buckets of shovels.”
“We need to market for the winter because we don’t have any place to sit in here,” McNabb said. “People can take Popsicles home and sit by the fire while they eat them.”