San Francisco, 1975: Castro Street leaves Market Street and climbs a big hill. Past the top, descending, you come to 24th street. There you’ll find Bud Edlin’s ice cream store. The sign says “Bud’s Ice Cream.”
Fabulously popular. Bud’s secret?
Most ice creams have a butterfat content around 16%. Bud’s ice cream has a butterfat content around 22%.
I learned this from Phil Groves, the first client of Simple Simon Bookkeeping Service, my first business. Phil sold Bud’s ice cream from a shop in the Haight Ashbury area. The name of Phil’s store was “Raskin-Flakker’s Ice Cream”. He thought that was funny.
Of course, the real story is that Bud Edlin refused to permit anybody to sell his ice cream. Approached many times, he always turned it down.
So when Phil Groves decided that he wanted to open a store selling Bud’s ice cream, he didn’t know how to go about it.
Now picture Bud’s store on the corner. The big windows, and the front door, are on Castro, and like most San Francisco shops, the shop was long and narrow. The back room, where the ice cream was made, therefore had a door opening onto 24th street, and in the summertime this door was usually open.
There in that doorway stood Phil Groves.
Age? Perhaps 28-30. Bud Edlin was working there in the back room, making ice cream in big stainless steel machines, and wheeling the packages around. If you’ve never seen one, a commercial container of ice cream is a cylinder about two feet tall and a foot across. That is to say, it’s large and heavy.
Phil was afraid to say anything to Bud Edlin, so he just stood there, paralysed. He couldn’t speak; and he couldn’t leave.
Bud looked up from time to time, but said nothing. It was a hot day and Bud was working hard. This went on for some time. Finally Bud said, “Hand me that container.”
Phil fetched the container. Bud gave him more instructions. Phil did it. The remainder of the afternoon passed in this manner.
Toward the end of the day, Bud said, “What do you want?”
“I want to sell your ice cream,” Phil replied.
Bud nodded. “OK.”