The Dallas Examiner
Entering Steve and Cammy’s Ice Cream Shop in Oak Cliff, the smell of fresh pound cake and the sight of tempting ice cream options is welcoming, along with warm greetings from employees ready to serve. But the most gravitating element that jumps out are the seven bold-letter words printed across the wall, “Strengthening Communities One Scoop At A Time.”
From a vacant commercial property in desperate need of repair to a presentable storefront graced with pastel colors and glass windows, Alabama natives Steven and Camille Jones bestow a fun alternative to serving the community with a summer time favorite.
“The way it was conceptualized was ‘Let’s put something nice and upscale looking; something that doesn’t even look like it should be in the community here that’s low-cost, everybody loves, and make it nice,’” Camille said enthusiastically. “Then, we just thought, ‘ice cream.’”
Originally, the business was intended to just be another empty property and potential real estate for the Jones family to purchase. But, after taking a tour around the area and realizing the lack of Black ownership, the business-owners had a change of heart.
“Nobody is putting any resources into the Black community, so we felt pressed to do our part,” Camille said.
The shop offers a pleasant experience for families in the pre-dominantly Black area on Cedar Crest Street. The Jones’ offerings include more than 15 ice cream flavors and other desserts such as cakes, pralines and two vegan ice cream flavors – strawberry and chocolate.
One of the biggest things that separates the ice cream shop from many other Black-owned businesses in the city is that the owners solely funded the establishment with no help from the government or other sources.
“This shop is self-funded. We used our savings,” Camille said. “That’s how passionate we are about helping our people.
The company also serves a job-creating role, providing employment for local residents surrounding the area.
“I’m not only here to benefit the business, but I also believe in what Steve and Cammy want to do as far as strengthening communities,” said Betshena Young, a shop employee. “I’m being a service to my community just standing behind this counter.”
As the old saying goes, strength comes in numbers, and the store’s packed wall-to-wall grand opening on July 16 proved just that. Many local residents came and welcomed the new business as possibly a long-standing staple in the community.
“It’s very nice and clean. My kids can come and get ice cream then go and enjoy the rest of their day,” said Ashley Johnson, local Oak Cliff resident and customer, as she complimented the store.
Although there has been some positive feedback, the ice cream parlor still has had to encounter some obstacles surrounding it.
Camille expressed that the business has to adjust to the behavior of the crime-ridden environment. The new Dallas entrepreneur stated the venture has made her reflect on the crime and poverty within the area.
“It’s destitute down here. There’s no industries,” she said. “A lot of the residents we’ve seen, they have a lot of idle time.”
While a revelation such as this would make other businesses flee, it further fueled the ice cream machine and inspired the Jones to amplify their presence.
“We can’t lose our identities,” Camille asserted. “The idea is to help grow the economy, [and] for Black people to produce something that other folks have to come and get.”
However, the businesswoman understands the parlor could only do so much to fulfill this mission.
“This is just a start, but there is a broader holistic approach that isn’t developed yet,” she said. “We don’t plan to just stop here.”
Camille stated that she hopes to take a portion of the business earnings and invest it back into the community once they’re stable in order to help local families throughout underserved neighborhoods.
She also expressed her desire for the Black community’s support and her aspiration to become a common stop for everyone in the neighborhood to get a frozen treat.
“This is a mission, and this is for the community,” Camille said. “It’s a family friendly atmosphere. We can have something nice in the Black community that they can experience right here. They don’t have to go to the suburbs … come to Steve & Cammy’s.”