Maureen Brzycki has two babies, but only enough time for one. So she’s decided to sell the other.
Before you reach for the phone to call Child Services, know that one of those babies—the one she’s looking for someone take off her hands—is her business, Nellie Bly’s Ice Cream Parlour in Riverton.
Brzycki and her husband, Joe, purchased the popular shop in 2009 from previous owners Mark and Maureen Miller when they decided to sell. It’s been a labor of love ever since—until another labor of love came along.
Ever since Brzycki welcomed 6-month-old daughter Coco into the world, managing both the business and the baby has been “shaky,” she said. As a result, she and her husband have decided to (ideally) sell the shop, or, barring that, close at the end of the season.
“It was heartbreaking to me,” she said of the decision to close. “It’s like a baby to me.”
Brzycki, who once managed both the original Nellie Bly’s and its short-lived counterpart in Moorestown, said she was equally devastated when the Millers told her they were planning on closing in 2009—unless she could buy it off them.
“I had put as much blood, sweat and tears into the store as they had, and they agreed,” she said. “There was no decision to be made. It had to be done.”
She and Joe pooled all the money they’d received as gifts at their recent wedding and poured all that cash into buying the ice cream parlor.
Why would a young couple—Brzycki was in her early 20s at the time, Joe in his late 20s—sink so much money, money that was supposed to be for investing in their future, into a small business?
The way Brzycki saw it, the purchase was an investment in their future, and more specifically, an investment in their home.
“I’ve always been an older soul than I actually am,” she said. “I loved Riverton. I loved the community … I wanted to be a part of the community. There’s nothing to not love about it.”
And the locals loved them back. Faithful, hungry customers kept the bell above Nellie Bly's front door jingling, keeping the shop afloat through tough economic times. But running a small business is a day-in, day-out, on-the-ground enterprise, and Brzycki—who, along with running Nellie Bly's, also has a full-time job—recognized soon after having Coco she wouldn’t be able to devote as much time to the parlour as she knew it deserved.
"With the downturn in the economy, you need to be very present ... for the economy to not affect you," she said. "(The baby) was kind of making the store take a backseat, and that’s not how you should run a business."
The Brzyckis would love to sell, but—like good parents—they’re only willing to give up the Nellie Bly’s name to someone who will give it the same level of love and attention they, and its previous owners, have.
“It’s like a baby to me. I don’t want to pass it on to just anybody,” she said. “If I feel like it’s just somebody who wants to own an ice cream shop and doesn’t really care for the name, I’d sell it to them (with a different name).”
Brzycki said since she and her husband announced the closing earlier this month a handful of people—all customers—have come forward to inquire about buying the business, but they’ve not gotten any offers yet.
If they don’t a find a buyer before the end of the season—the end of September—they’ll just close, she said.“I loved (Nellie Bly’s). It was my passion,” she said. “And my daughter’s my passion now.”
Nellie Bly's (856-303-0707) is located at 529 Main St., Riverton. The shop is open 3-8 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday, and 3- 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The business is cash only.