When Anne Segal immigrated to the United States from Uganda in 1992, she said she was fascinated by the American business climate.
Having run a small boutique business in Uganda after graduating from university, Segal said she had aspirations of opening a business of her own in America some day.
"America is so inspiring. This is a country where you can really do something for yourself, if you put your mind to it," she said sitting inside the cafe on a recent morning. "When I came here I said, 'What should I do?' and I decided I wanted to start a small business."
Her personal life intervened, however, and the Columbia resident decided to put her career aspirations on hold after getting married and adopting a daughter.
Now her daughter is 11-years-old and Segal is ready to get back to work. In January, Segal's business dream took one step closer toward reality when she scooped up ownership of the Double Dipper Ice Cream Parlor and Cafe in Laurel.
The ice cream parlor, located at 906 Montgomery St., has been rebranded Sweets & Treats Creamery Cafe, and Segal will hold a grand opening on March 7.
Accompanying the new owner and name is a slightly tweaked business model that ice cream as the main business.
"I was thinking about ice cream, but in the winter you don't sell a lot. So I had to have something else to substitute for not selling ice cream," she said. "I decided, I think I should do some baking."
In addition to selling 28 flavors of Hershey's Ice Cream, the cafe will also sell fresh-baked brownies, cupcakes and cookies, as well as fudge imported from Pennsylvania. The cafe will continue to serve coffee and other cafe drinks as well. The coffee provider will be Chesapeake Roasting Company, which is based out of Crofton.
Segal also made some slight renovations to the store, adding a convection oven and a display case for her baked goods. The parlor is also adorned with a new sign, but the interior remains largely unchanged, including the bright pink painted walls.
The biggest subtraction from the business will be the hot food service, which Segal has discontinued. Previously, the Double Dipper sold sandwiches, hot dogs and other lunch items.
For Segal, the main draw for purchasing the business was the ice cream sales.
"I wanted something that could be afforded by everybody. The student can afford an ice cream. The elderly can afford ice cream," she said. "I think ice cream is one of the cheapest things you can sell that everyone can enjoy."
She added that she looked in Columbia for months before settling on the Laurel parlor. She said two things brought her to Laurel: the high rent prices in Columbia and Laurel's small-town community atmosphere.
"I wanted to do it in a family-oriented community," she said. "I wanted it to be in a neighborhood, and when I saw this place I thought it was perfect."
Segal said she first visited the parlor in summer 2014. She said she was put in contact with the owner through Hershey's Ice Cream, which she has partnered with on the business. Hershey has a program that provides branding items and freezers to ice cream parlors at no cost if they also sell Hershey products. Segal said this format appealed to her more than a franchise did, which has considerably more cost.
She leases the space from the A.R. Crowell Plumbing, which is located in the basement of the building and owns the structure.
The owner of A.R. Crowell, Robert Crowell, and his wife Angie, were the previous owners of the Double Dipper, which opened in 2011.