White Mountain: Cash Only Ice Cream

White Mountain, Kingston, OntarioDowntown Kingston is only getting busier as the unofficial end of summer collides with the back-to-school transition. With the students’ quickly integrating back into our limestone city, downtown hotspots will be ready for the indubitable rushes. Despite the seasonal changes, ice cream is still a popular treat as the cool air sweeps the streets – and legendary White Mountain Homemade Ice cream continues to draw in locals and visitors alike despite the heavy competition nearby.

White Mountain, established by Tom Schreider, set up shop in 1985 on Ontario Street and manufactured ice cream with only natural ingredients for the public, developing a reputation of arguably the best ice cream in town. The famous fresh homemade waffle cones contribute to White Mountain’s popularity and it appears the fame has yet to fade. For several weeks, I must admit to being an extreme regular at the local parlor and though my taste buds are always satisfied by the inventive flavours White Mountain offers, including the popular Bee’s Nest and White Mountain Mix, I am surprised the Kingston establishment remains a cash only shop.

Unlike its neighboring contenders Mio Gelato next door and fro-yo franchise Menchies a few blocks up, White Mountain only accepts cash and it could be argued this may be detrimental to the local business in the future. Debit and Credit cards are becoming the future of finance as companies strive to make payments more efficient by eliminating the need to carry change around. I neither agree nor disagree with the need to carry cash on you at all times, but I would agree that not all people – especially students – have cash on them at all times.

I have witnessed a few couples at White Mountain in only the last few weeks look blank faced when they realize they can only pay by cash, followed by a mad rummage through pockets for some cash to pay for their treat before it melts. With no ATM onsite, it would be fair to suggest this could cost White Mountain some customers.

To be fair, White Mountain regulars are obviously aware of the cash only aspect and it is apparent with the constant line-up weaving through the establishment, most Kingstonians are more than ready to adhere to the no plastic rule. However, visitors and tourists looking forward to trying out the popular local ice cream bar may have a hard time coming up with cash on the spot; especially if a group arrives with no cash yet orders a few small cones. With a small waffle cone costing well over $3.00, a bill is likely needed.

It is clear White Mountain has not yet been affected by the cash only rule as it continues to be a celebrated part of Kingston’s waterfront and perhaps with the ever budding fan base, the parlor will continue churning every year.

Should the local hotspot introduce debit and credit or will it continue to thrive due to its renowned homemade taste?

Thanks to Robert Fairchild for the photo displayed above.

Meg Lyons

Meg Lyons has retired as a contributor to Kingstonist. She was once Kingstonist's resident ecoholic, who wrote about sustainability as it pertains to the local food movement, transportation and life in Kingston. She is borderline cat-crazed and a self-acclaimed duck whisperer.

4 thoughts on “White Mountain: Cash Only Ice Cream

  • Taking Visa/credit cards for small businesses, especially ones whose per-purchase profit is very low can be very costly. It's definitely true that carrying cash is becoming a way of the past, but it is also difficult for stores like this one to justify paying hundreds per month to rent a credit machine, and then pay anything from 5%-20% per transaction to the credit card company. I would say that getting an ipad and using Square would be a much better idea, albeit perhaps too "new age" for a traditional establishment. At least that way they save money and now have an iPad which is a much better investment.

  • Good piece as always, Meg.

    I think Julia is dead on with her comment, though. The costs of accepting credit and debit card payments are very high, and small businesses pay thousands of dollars a year to have these services on site. As a result, the cost of goods have to go up, and every customer, even those paying cash, suffer the consequences.

    But more importantly, I think the no cash rule at White Mountain should be more widespread for the purpose of customer flow. I live on Ontario Street, and frequent many downtown businesses throughout the week. Nothing drives me crazier than people without cash during the morning and evening rush hours, using their VISA to buy a coffee or a lottery ticket.

    A huge time premium develops when ten people want to use plastic all in a row, and don't even have their cards ready when they reach the cash. And at places like White Mountain, which are often packed, you have lines that include dozens and dozens of people.

    And for the record, I'm not an old, grumpy person. But even as a young, 20-something, tech-savvy professional living here in town, I'm blown away by the current aversion to cash. In my opinion, it's wildly childish to walk around with no cash and make sub-toonie purchases with a credit card.

    So, while WM might lose the occasional customer for a lack of accepting plastic, I think it's a sound businesses principle based on lower overhead and faster service during peak hours.

    • My debit and credit card's 'Pay Pass' is by FAR faster than fishing for pocket change, or chip card/pin combo.. The transaction is immediate, and I'm not waiting for some cash lover count out exact change.. As far as your concern about new tech for small business, I don't think there'll be a choice in a few years – Debit/Credit are here to stay!

      … a business in this day in age that insists on 'cash only; are doing this to avoid the Tax Man, not because of some romantic anti-tech notion !!!

      • Actually, guest, I completely agree with your points.

        I don't think small businesses are avoiding plastic for any reason other than the cost, though. I never said it had anything to do with an anti-tech notion. And, I agree that there won't be much of a choice in a few years, but the costs to businesses will also be lower at that point, making it less of an issue.

        And to your point about Paypass, this is different. I should have been more clear. By 'plastic' I really meant any payment that requires entering a pin or providing a signature. These are the factors that slow things down.

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