Nice Vice is Vancouver’s first ever 0% dairy, plant-based micro creamery, which opened in Yaletown in February. VHS talked recently to owner-operator Chris White about starting up a plant-based business. Here’s our Q&A with him:
1. What inspired you to open Nice Vice?
I opened up Nice Vice Creamery after visiting many of the fantastic artisanal ice cream and gelato establishments around the city and never having very many D-F options. When I was making so many different flavours at home, my sons inspired me to open up a dairy-free scoop shop.
2. How have you found the reaction from the community?
Absolutely fantastic! I believed that Vancouver was ready to support a 100% dairy-free, plant-based vice cream shop. I think the awareness of plant-based foods has become much more positive in the last few years.
3. What do you enjoy most about running the business?
I love working the front counter and interacting with people. We have received so much good energy from our patrons you can’t help but feel good behind there.
4. What do you find is the hardest part?
We opened up an ice cream store during the winter,with a new brand, with a new product, and in a new location! We made it as hard as possible to succeed. So, if we can get through this and become profitable then we will achieve success.
5. How do you stay positive in a world where animal-based products are still so predominate?
I focus on how aware society is becoming about the positive aspects of choosing a plant-based product over the negative realities of animal-based products. After all, that is one of the motivating factors behind Nice Vice – the ability to participate in change through positive vibrations of consuming vice cream.
6. What is your most popular menu item?
Besides several of our classics, our Instagram @nicevicecream has our new flavours which regularly sell out within a day or two. (Buzz’d Coffee or Strawberry Lychee anyone?)
7. Who are your customers? Is there a predominate demographic?
When I wrote the marketing plan, I assumed that health conscious females between the age of 15-35 would be our predominate SHUs (Super Heavy Users). However, we have been surprised to see an equal number of male customers as well and, pleasantly, we seem to be catching on in the Asian community where over 70% of that ethnic group is lactose intolerant.
8. What do you think is the best way to encourage consumers to make more ethical choices?
This is a good question. At Nice Vice I tell our employees not to judge anyone for any choices they make. We believe that education and awareness of the ethical benefits of a plant-based diet are being portrayed by documentaries auch as Cowspiracy, Earthlings, and Forks over Knives. When the conversation comes up between a customer as to why I am plant-based, I point the customer to these three documentaries to guide them in their own decision making.
9. Do you think plant-based products and businesses are becoming more mainstream?
Absolutely! Plant-based food products and restaurants are the fastest growing sectors in their respective industries. The shift has happened because there is largely no where else to grow. Just look at Ben & Jerrys and the number of new vegan restaurants that have opened this year in Vancouver alone. We are at the beginning of a monumental shift in consumer choice. And thank God for that!!!
10. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned about running a plant-based business?
You can’t please everybody!! There is a wide variety of knowledge in society and we have experienced different levels of emotions from anger and anxiety to euphoria in our shop. Not everyone will believe in what we are doing as being positive – that is the reality and beauty of living in a free society. The other lesson is that dealing with the government can be challenging and requires patience and perseverance. The residual benefits of business are numerous and exciting! No matter what happens with Nice Vice, I can honestly say, I have never had a such a roller-coaster of emotions with this small business and the period of personal growth has been phenomenal.
Nice Vice Creamery is located at 1022 Mainland Street, Yaletown and is open 12-10 daily.