Ice cream shop owner in South Central LA sees dream melting away


At Pop’s Ice Cream Shop, creativity isn't limited to the flavors offered; It's also displayed in artwork on the walls. (Rosio Flores/Community News)

Rosio Flores, Community News Reporter

When Antonia Kania opened her ice cream shop last Fall in South Central Los Angeles, where she grew up, it was childhood dream come true.

That dream was in peril just months later, when a Baskin-Robbins set up shop just one block away.

Pop’s Ice Cream Shop, a name that pays homage to Kania’s father, is a family-owned local business that sits in front of a high school.

Neighborhood residents are drawn to the pastel pink shop with Reggaeton and other music blasting from speakers near the door and its unique ice cream flavors: Black Horchata, Arroz con Leche, Chocolate Abuelita and a flavor planned for next month, Gansito.

Kania co-owns the shop with her brothers and Dulce Garcia. They said they spend a lot of time brainstorming flavors to help differentiate them from other shops.

They had no idea that construction down the street would be something to worry about. They heard it was going to be a Starbucks, which made sense with the growing gentrification of the neighborhood. Then, they saw the sign go up: It was a Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin’ Donuts.

“We were crushed…they took most of our customers,” Kania said. In the plaza with the new Baskin-Robbins, “there used to be a family-owned Chinese restaurant. Now that’s gone: It’s a Panda Express…Little by little, all these small businesses are going to go.”

“Hopefully that doesn’t happen to us,” Garcia added.

Less than 80 percent of small businesses survived for one year and only about half survived more than five years from 2005 to 2017, according to the Small Business Administration. Small businesses play an outsized role in the economy: 8.4 million new jobs were created by small businesses from 2002 to 2017 while 4.4 million were created by large businesses, according to the group.

Experts say most small businesses can’t afford to have prices that are as low as bigger competitors — because of economies of scale — and it’s harder for small businesses to run massive advertisement campaigns.

Community News reporters are enrolled in JOUR 3910 – University Times. They produce stories about under-covered neighborhoods and small cities on the Eastside and South Los Angeles. Please email feedback, corrections and story tips to [email protected]