14 Shaved Ice Franchise Opportunities

shaved ice franchise

Step into the sweet and successful world of dessert businesses with a shaved ice franchise. These popular treats are not just a joy for customers around the globe but also provide a frosty opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to operate under an established brand.

This article will guide you through the vibrant landscape of shaved ice franchises and how you can capitalize on this cool and lucrative market.

What is a Shaved Ice Franchise?

A shaved ice franchise is a business model that allows entrepreneurs to serve this sweet, icy delicacy under an established brand. This type of franchise is appealing due to its simplicity in production and broad appeal among consumers of all ages.

Franchisees benefit from brand recognition, support, and a ready-to-implement business system, in exchange for initial franchise fees and ongoing royalties.

These businesses can be quite versatile in their operation, ranging from mobile trucks that offer the convenience of location flexibility to stationary kiosks or traditional brick-and-mortar shops.

The format can be selected based on the owner’s preference, the brand’s system, and the target market’s needs.

shaved ice franchise

The Mobile Dessert Industry Today

The shaved ice business enjoys a long history of delighting taste buds, with roots reaching back to Ancient Rome. Today, it stands as a staple in the mobile dessert industry, beloved for its simplicity and variety.

The appeal of shaved ice trucks and kiosks lies in their low overhead costs, making it a particularly attractive venture for entrepreneurs looking to enter the food truck space.

These mobile businesses are not limited to just shaved ice; they often expand their menu to include a wide array of frozen treats like gelato, ice cream, and smoothies.

The customization options with flavors and toppings make shaved ice a versatile and continually popular choice, allowing for creativity and adaptability in menu offerings.

Why You Should Consider a Shaved Ice Franchise

If you dream of owning your own business and having fun while you’re earning profits, then a shaved ice franchise might be the perfect fit. In fact, a shaved ice franchise business offers a variety of benefits and opportunities, including:

  • Independence – When you start a shaved ice business, you finally get to live your dream of being your own boss.
  • Low cost – Compared to other food franchises, shaved ice franchise businesses can be started for less cost, and operating the business requires less overhead.
  • Seasonal option – While a shaved ice business has the potential to succeed year-round, especially in warmer markets, it’s also a business that can be operated during the spring and summer when the products are in the highest demand.
  • Simple business model – Launching a new business couldn’t be easier thanks to the simple shaved ice business model.
  • Rewarding work – If you enjoy satisfying customers and seeing the smiles on their faces when they enjoy your products, then operating a shaved ice business can be extremely rewarding work.

shaved ice franchise

Our Methodology: How We Chose the Best Shaved Ice Franchise Opportunities

The shaved ice franchise niche is a unique segment of the frozen dessert market, often characterized by low overhead and high-profit potential. Here’s our process for selecting the best shaved ice franchise opportunities:

Brand Appeal and Differentiation (10/10)

We prioritize franchises with a strong brand appeal and unique selling propositions that set them apart in the market.

Quality of Product Offerings (9/10)

The taste and quality of the shaved ice, including the variety of flavors and options for dietary restrictions, are critical for customer satisfaction.

Initial Investment and Cost Analysis (9/10)

Affordable entry points and clear, transparent cost structures are essential. We focus on franchises that offer low startup costs and operational efficiency.

Training and Operational Support (8/10)

Comprehensive training and consistent operational support ensure franchisees can maintain quality and service standards.

Marketing and Branding Support (8/10)

Strong marketing support from the franchisor helps franchisees attract and retain customers. We evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing strategies provided.

Growth Potential and Scalability (8/10)

We look for franchises with the potential to scale, whether through multiple locations or expanded seasonal operations.

Seasonality and Revenue Consistency (7/10)

Given the seasonal nature of the shaved ice business, we assess how franchises help operators sustain revenue year-round or maximize earnings during peak seasons.

Customer Loyalty and Engagement (7/10)

Franchises that foster high levels of customer loyalty and have strategies for customer engagement score highly in our methodology.

Supplier Relationships and Supply Chain Efficiency (7/10)

Reliable supplier relationships and an efficient supply chain for syrups, ice, and equipment are vital for smooth operations.

Environmental Sustainability (6/10)

We recognize franchises that implement environmentally friendly practices, such as using biodegradable containers or natural flavorings.

Innovation and Menu Adaptation (6/10)

Adaptability in menu offerings and the ability to innovate in response to consumer trends are important for long-term success.

Franchise Community and Peer Support (6/10)

A supportive network allows franchisees to share insights and strategies, which is beneficial for navigating the shaved ice business landscape.

Our methodology for choosing the best shaved ice franchises is designed to uncover opportunities that not only serve delicious treats but also possess the potential for financial success, brand growth, and operational excellence.

We aim to identify franchises that support their franchisees throughout the year, offer comprehensive training and marketing support, and have a strong appeal to a broad customer base.

Top Shaved Ice Franchises

Plenty of franchise possibilities exist to start a shaved ice business, each with its own costs and business structure. Of course, just like in any other industry, some shaved ice franchises are more popular or successful than others. Some of the best shave ice franchise opportunities include:

1. Kona Ice

With more than 800 franchises, Kona Ice is one of the top shaved ice brands. Entrepreneurs can purchase a Kona Ice franchise for $110,750, which includes the franchise fee, an inventory pack and a truck.

2. Tropical Sno

Tropical Sno offers unique business opportunities under its popular brand. Franchisees have licensed the ability to use the Tropical Sno name and logo in exchange for agreeing to exclusively sell the company’s products, without fees or royalties.

3. Bahama Buck’s

Bahama Buck’s seeks franchisees who want to surround themselves with fresh ingredients and innovative shaved ice products. The initial investment to start a Bahama Buck’s franchise ranges from $230,000 to $770,000, and franchisees benefit from a support team dedicated to their success.

4. Mustache Mike’s Italian Ice

After manufacturing its Italian ice products in California, Mustache Mike’s distributes them throughout the United States. The company doesn’t charge franchise fees, and its franchise opportunities are described as simple and flexible with excellent profit margins.

5. Hokulia Shave Ice

Hokulia Shave Ice is one of the nation’s premier shaved ice and tropical dessert brands. The initial investment to start a Hokulia Shave Ice franchise ranges from about $81,000 to $133,000, which covers not only start-up costs but also equipment, inventory, payroll, and ongoing support.

6. Tikiz

Entrepreneurs interested in operating their own shaved ice trucks should consider investing in Tikiz franchises. After paying an initial investment between $132,000 and $144,000, franchisees can sell shaved ice and other frozen products from their own Tikiz trucks, which come with a top-of-the-line high-output ice shaver.

7. Wanna Chill?

While its shaved ice is plenty popular, Wanna Chill? features a broader menu including frozen yogurt, smoothies and even acai bowls. Franchisees can choose from operating a mobile dessert truck, a towable cart or even a store. The initial investment to start a Wanna Chill? franchise ranges from $51,000 to $186,000, depending on the chosen franchise option.

shaved ice franchise

More Popular Shaved Ice Franchise Opportunities

The options to start a shaved ice franchise don’t end with the above popular brands. Whether you want to specialize in Hawaiian shaved ice or you prefer to offer a wider variety of frozen desserts, any of the following companies could offer the perfect opportunity.

8. Ohana Bros

A company inspired by the world travels of the Ohana Bros Surfer Dudes, the brand specializes in Hawaiian shaved ice and a variety of other products, including popcorn, potato chips and french fries. Entrepreneurs can start their own business franchises with Ohana Bros for an initial investment ranging from $192,670 to $368,070.

9. Rita’s Ice

Since its founding in 1984, Rita’s Ice has opened 600 franchise units, serving customers its tasty frozen treats. Franchisees need a net worth of $300,000, as well as $100,000 for their initial investments in a Rita’s Ice franchise. The company then offers assistance in selecting a premier location, as well as initial training.

10. Snowie

Snowie offers a lucrative non-franchise business opportunity for entrepreneurs interested in selling shave ice under its popular brand. Snowie operators don’t pay franchise fees or royalties, so they get to keep everything they earn. The brand, however, does provide training, as well as all the gear Snowie owners need to get their shave ice brands off and running.

11. Ululani Hawaiian Shave Ice

Looking for an authentic Hawaiian shave ice brand to start your own business? Founded by Hawaiian natives who held an appreciation for finely shaved Hawaiian ice, Ululani Hawaiian Shave Ice wanted their products to stand apart from the “chunky” shaved ice and snow cones they found on the mainland. Currently offering franchise opportunities, Ululani Hawaiian Shave Ice invites interested parties to contact it for more information.

12. Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices & Ice Cream

Serving more than 100 flavors of shaved ice, ice cream and specialty treats, Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices & Ice Cream has been a successful business for more than 90 years. The company began offering franchise opportunities in 2001, and franchisees can get started with an initial investment of about $200,000.

13. Sno Shack

Entrepreneurs can own their own successful shaved ice businesses by franchising with Sno Shack. Business opportunities are available for a low investment, and Sno Shack doesn’t charge royalties or ongoing fees. Training is provided, and packages range from just $4,500 to $29,995.

14. Waikomo Shave Ice

By starting a Waikomo Shave Ice franchise, entrepreneurs are able to serve only natural ingredients with no artificial colors or flavors. The health-conscious brand follows a simple business model that is highly efficient and fun. The initial investment to start a Waikomo franchise ranges from $38,000 to $123,000.

shaved ice franchise

Comparison of Top Shaved Ice Franchise Opportunities

As you consider diving into the cool world of shaved ice franchises, comparing your options side-by-side can help crystalize your decision. Below is a table designed to give you a quick look at how each franchise stacks up in terms of investment, support, and distinctive features.

Franchise NameInitial InvestmentFranchise FeeTraining & SupportUnique Features
Kona Ice$110,750IncludedComprehensiveMobile truck, community engagement, flavor variety
Tropical SnoVariesNoneOn-demandNo royalties, product exclusivity
Bahama Buck’s$230,000 - $770,000IncludedExtensiveDiverse menu, strong brand support
Mustache Mike’sVariesNoneFlexibleItalian ice focus, no franchise fees
Hokulia Shave Ice$81,000 - $133,000IncludedProvidedAuthentic Hawaiian experience, efficient model
Tikiz$132,000 - $144,000IncludedProvidedMobile trucks, high-output shavers, diverse product line
Wanna Chill?$51,000 - $186,000VariesProvidedMultiple operating models, including trucks and carts
Ohana Bros$192,670 - $368,070VariesProvidedWorld-inspired flavors, multi-product focus
Rita’s Ice$100,000 (minimum)VariesExtensiveLarge franchise network, varied frozen treats
Snowie$4,500 - $29,995NoneProvidedNo royalties, complete gear and training package
Ululani Hawaiian Shave IceContact for detailsContact for detailsContact for detailsAuthentic Hawaiian shave ice, focus on natural ingredients
Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices & Ice Cream~$200,000VariesProvided90+ years of history, extensive menu options
Sno Shack$4,500 - $29,995NoneProvidedNo ongoing fees, low investment, high flexibility
Waikomo Shave Ice$38,000 - $123,000IncludedProvidedHealth-conscious options, simple and efficient business model

Please note that the exact investment amounts and details may vary and are subject to change. It is crucial for potential franchisees to contact the franchisors directly for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

shaved ice franchise

How to Choose the Best Franchise to Set Up Your Shaved Ice Business

When venturing into the world of shaved ice franchises, selecting the right brand is crucial for success. Here are factors to mull over to ensure you make an informed decision:

  • Cost: Understanding the full scope of the initial investment is essential. Costs can differ widely, and it’s crucial to know exactly what’s included. Does the franchise fee cover the cost of specialized equipment and initial inventory, or will these incur additional expenses? Evaluate the total cost against the inclusions to assess the value proposition of each franchise opportunity.
  • Support: Assess the level and type of support the franchisor offers. If you’re new to the business, you may benefit from a franchise that offers extensive training and ongoing support. Seasoned entrepreneurs might be comfortable with less handholding. Determine whether the support is mainly remote, via online modules, or if there’s in-person training at a corporate location or your own site.
  • Location: Consider the geographical market for your business. Some franchises have territorial restrictions or may only be looking to expand in specific regions. Ensure that the franchise you’re interested in aligns with your desired location and that the market isn’t already saturated with similar offerings.
  • Requirements: Franchisors often have pre-set criteria for franchisees, which could include financial prerequisites or previous business experience. Scrutinize these requirements to ensure you qualify and that they align with your business goals and capabilities. It’s important to choose a franchise whose requirements you can meet without overextending your resources.

How Much Does It Cost to Open a Shaved Ice Truck or Shaved Ice Stand Franchise?

The amount of money needed to open a shaved ice franchise varies greatly from one brand to the next, and the cost can range from as little as $10,000 to more than $100,000. That variance depends largely on whether the initial investment includes equipment such as a truck and ice machine, as well as whether the brand charges franchise fees.

Is a Shaved Ice or Italian Ice Franchise Profitable?

A shaved ice franchise business has the potential to be extremely profitable. Shaved ice, snow cones and even ice cream are made with low-cost ingredients and supplies, usually, a fraction of the amount customers pay for them. That low overhead helps generate greater profits, especially for franchises with a company that doesn’t charge additional royalties.

Image: Envato Elements

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Samantha Lile Samantha Lile is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 3 years. She is also a freelance writer and journalist who contributes to a variety of web publications from her home office in the heart of the Ozarks.