For the past four years, one unique ice cream shop has been serving up cult status confections
to the Troy community.
Ducky’s Snowballs and Ice Cream, located in an old gas station on the corner of West Market Street in Troy, is a favorite among residents and faraway admirers - even earning the adoration of Troy’s mayor, Robin I. Oda, who happened to be at the shop on the day I ventured there to indulge in its tasty treats. In fact, this adoration seems to be commonplace among Ducky’s patrons, whether they are frequent customers or brand new fans.
So, what can be chalked up to this nearly instant success? The owner of Ducky’s Snowballs and Ice Cream, Donald Butler, hypothesizes that it might be due to the unique offerings and laid-back atmosphere at the shop.
“With ice cream and snowballs and a cool destination, people come from all over - all over Dayton and even from Springfield,” said Butler.
Before opening his ice cream shop in Troy, Butler was a fisherman from New Orleans, Louisiana, traveling all over the world and making pit stops to enjoy the culture and life in remote locations like Tanzania. It is this sense of adventure that Butler carried with him to his latest endeavor.
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At first, Butler experimented with a food truck, called The Duck Wagon, which served southern and Cajun-inspired food, along with Butler’s famous ice cream and snowballs. However, after finding immense success as a food truck owner, Butler wanted to expand his operations to an actual brick-and-mortar location.
“The problem is, once you hit a plateau, you can’t build a business any further, right?” said Butler. “I wanted to open up an ice cream shop. Everyone told me that I was nuts. But it worked out. And it was an instant success. I had no idea that I would create this kind of thing.”
In fact, Butler has had so much success with Ducky’s Snowballs and Ice Cream that he has decided to open a second location just south of Dayton, the details of which are still top secret. This is all, of course, coming off the heels of the shuttering of the business during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite closing its doors to customers for around a month and a half, business is booming, says Butler.
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So far, Butler says that his customers are abiding by the social distancing rules, which are enforced by little duck feet that are painted on the ground in front of the shop. On the day that I paid a visit to the shop, all of the Ducky’s staff members were wearing masks with the shop’s logo embroidered into the cloth.
“So I got embroidered Ducky’s masks for all the girls and stuff like that,” said Butler. “It’s just hard. It’s harder in a business that is only open for six months out of the year. Now I’ve lost a month and a half [of business]. It’s difficult, but we’re gonna make it.”
Menu items at Ducky’s include milkshakes, Hershey’s soft-serve ice cream, the famous Quackwich (various ice cream concoctions served between two doughnuts from Jim’s Donuts in Vandalia) and snowballs. And, at the end of the day, it is the snowball that makes this establishment so unique. As opposed to the thicker and more ice-filled snow cone, the Louisiana summertime delicacy that is the snowball is made with more finely-shaved ice, topped with with flavored syrup and plenty of sugar.
According to Butler, many of the staples made at Ducky’s are the result of customer requests. However, if you’d rather come up with your own crazy concoction, staff members are willing to help you make your ice cream dreams come true.
“We’re just full service - whatever anybody wants,” said Butler. “Even the craziest thing.”
And, though it might be closed right now due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, an arcade and entertainment center accompanies the ice cream parlor, making Ducky’s a one-stop destination for fun after the kids (or even the adults) polish off their ice cream. Aside from the arcade, featuring a handful of games, Butler has also furnished his business with a colorful Vespa, relaxing beach chairs and colorful accents set to a summer-worthy playlist full of artists like Jimmy Buffet.
So, as you can likely deduce from the relaxed interior and gourmet treats, Ducky’s Snowballs and Ice Cream has become the place to be in Troy from April to October - just ask anyone from their long roster of faithful customers.
Ducky’s Snowballs and Ice Cream is open from Monday through Friday from 3-9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2-9 p.m. The ice cream shop is located at 100 W. Market St. in Troy. For more information about Ducky’s, pay a visit to their Facebook page.
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