Thinking about starting up your own shave ice business? The first thing you need to do is to decide on your location. Specifically, if you will have one set location or if you will set up a mobile operation. If you decide to go the mobile route, it has its set of pros and cons we think you should know. Mobility gives you complete control and freedom over where you will set up shop for the day. This gives you the ability to go where the people are hankering for some cold and delicious shave ice.Either way you shave it, there are pros and cons to every shave operation. Let’s dive into the mobile side of the shave ice biz.

Location Awareness

If you want to go run a successful shave ice business, then you need to be where the people are looking for that oh so sweet shave ice concoction. This is typically where it’s hot and where there are events like concerts, fairs, and sporting events. When you’re mobile, you can go to the people instead of them having to come to you. This can be a huge factor in your success as you are able to scout out the biggest happenings, gatherings, and events in your area and then drop your truck in the middle of the action. 

Time Scheduling 

Another pro of running a mobile shave ice operation is that your time is much more flexible. When you run a brick and mortar shop, you need to have your storefront staffed each day that you are open which is usually about 6 -10 hours, if not longer. Going mobile gives you more flexibility with your time as the business owner and your team member’s time. Since you can go to where the people are, you can set up shop and sling shave ice until the crowd is gone and then you can pack up and go home. This is typically only a few hours, and usually not for more than a couple of days at a time. 

Different Rent and Expenses 

The expenses of a mobile shave ice truck are so different from a brick-and-mortar operation that it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Here’s what we mean.

Rent vs Loan Payment

You will pay significantly more in rent each month than you would for a loan payment on your truck but your rent payment will include maintenance services. When your truck or mobile freezer breaks down, it’s on you to fix it and front the cost.


A brick and mortar shave ice operation needs to be staffed during all open hours. This is an hourly expense that is part of doing business. You will also need managers if you open a brick-and-mortar location. This is an even bigger hourly expense. On the mobile route – you can pay someone a set day rate to help you serve shaved ice to festival or carnival goers, or to tailgating fans at sporting events and concerts. Since you aren’t tied to one location, you don’t have to be open every day so you only need help when you are on the road and in business. 

No Set Location

The flip side to the location awareness advantage for a mobile shave ice truck is that your fans have to keep up with you on Facebook or through your email list rather than visiting your storefront whenever they’re craving some fresh shave ice. The mobile shave ice life is freeing but it eliminates the possibility of creating daily regulars. Be prepared to meet and serve strangers rather than loyal repeat customers.

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