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Dream Cream Ice Cream, a downtown pop up store, rewards dreamers

Downtown Pittsburgh’s latest pop-up storefront, Dream Cream Ice Cream, hopes to make dreams come true with every cone it sells.  Opening in early April, the shop’s unique business model will direct a portion of its sales to 12 different “dreamers” each month.

Although the desire to open the shop originally sprang from a passion for ice cream, co-owners Alecia Shipman and Thomas Jamison say they also wanted to create a business that would support positive action in the Pittsburgh community.

To become a dreamer, one needs to submit an application.  If selected, the individual or organization picks a particular flavor of ice cream, and 25% of those sales will be donated to their cause.  Each month, a new set of dreamers will be announced.

To qualify, Jamison says the dreamer must first identify a need, not a want--that means no Rolex watches or new rims for your car.  A review committee selects dreamers based on a grading rubric to see if the idea is a good fit.

“We are looking for some key factors,” Jamison says.  “Whether it’s a theater company that needs funds for their next production, a soccer mom who wants new equipment for her kids, or a student who's trying to pay down student debt--those are all things that I think everybody would agree are just wholesome, good causes.”

But dreams won’t get funded without a little work.  To be a participant, each dreamer will work two, 7-hour work days a week.  Jamison says this relationship is beneficial for both parties: Dream Cream saves on expenses, while the dreamer can reach potential supporters.

“It’s an opportunity for you to sell your dream to folks and tie them to where this money is going,” Jamison says.

Shipman says the ice cream model, compared to crowdsourcing sites like  Kickstarter, allows dreamers to raise funds without needing to gain complete buy-in from supporters.

“Some will come down [to the shop] specifically for that reason,” Shipman says.  “But others are just going to come down because they want ice cream.  It’s more advantageous for the [dreamers] because the fund raising opportunity is a little bit more intuitive than the traditional methods.”

Dream Cream is just one of several new businesses to open as part of  Project Pop Up: Downtown, a storefront activation program that is a collaboration between Mayor Ravenstahl, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, and the URA.

And the ice cream shop also has its own dream: to become a permanent part of Downtown Pittsburgh, after the Project Pop Up term ends.

“We’re hopeful that the relationship works out and we can be there for years to come,” Jamison says.

Dream Cream Ice Cream will open in early April at 539 Liberty Avenue, 7 days a week, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Alecia Shipman, Thomas Jamison
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