#HomeGrownStories – Susie Pope

Susie Pope is a Piqua native who grew up in a suburb of Cleveland. She and her husband, Wayne, are the third owners of Susie’s Big Dipper in Piqua. Susie’s Big Dipper serves not only 44 different flavors of homemade ice cream but also a variety of fresh sandwiches with homemade sides like coleslaw, potato salad, and soups. Susie’s also makes boxed lunches which can be ordered for business lunch meetings or parties. Susie was recently interviewed for our Home Grown Stories campaign.

On buying and running an ice cream shop:
That’s a funny story. It was Susie’s Big Dipper when my husband, Wayne, and I purchased it. Somebody bought it after the original owner and moved to this location. The original location was on South Street. We’re the third owners. We heard that the business was for sale, and I have the right name [laughs], and the right spelling… actually it was kind of funny because we were looking for a 50th birthday present to each other, we’re 13 days apart in age, so we bought it that year. March is our sixth year of business. We made it!

The business is a lot more involved than I ever thought it would. We bought it as an ice cream store but then we increased the food line so that we can stay open all year long. We’ve done a lot of small catering things and tons of boxed lunches for businesses. Our little retirement job is kind of blowing up! We’re working harder now than we ever did, but it’s fine, we’re together when we do it so that’s really good.

We purchased the ice cream trailer two years after we bought the business. We designed it and had specially made for us. The following year we made two mobile ice cream carts.

The flavors of ice cream at Susie’s Big Dipper:
The rest of our ice cream is homemade by my husband and myself here at the shop. We’re now up to 44 flavors. Some of the flavors are seasonal, something special for Christmas, we make a special one for Valentine’s Day and some of the fall flavors are just seasonal. It’s funny, we think something is seasonal, and then we start hearing people saying, “Why don’t you still have that?” Sometimes we just bring it back even when it’s out of season. We make 44 flavors but we only have room for 24 at a time so we rotate flavors in and out with flavors that we haven’t featured in a while. You have to have several favorites when you come here because you might not always see the same each time you come.

The previous owner had a flavor called Piqua-licious, and people loved that. It was a birthday cake flavor. We have one flavor that we make that is called Piqua Rocks, which is kind of fun. We have purchased little candy rocks, they actually look like rocks of different colors and sizes and shapes, but they’re just chocolate. We initially came up with that for the Piqua Rocks concerts in the summer and we’ve kept it because it’s fun.

Her favorite ice cream flavor:
Well, that’s funny because I’m an ice cream shop owner and I’ve been diabetic for 26 years. We do have two diabetic flavors, which are sweetened with Splenda. We have a really good moose tracks. The sugar-free flavors are the only two flavors we don’t make.

Why she loves Miami County:
The small town feeling. Growing up outside of Cleveland, we were in a suburb, but it was still a very large suburb. So, you know, you could go out to do errands and not run into a person you know. I think it’s so funny here that I can go to the grocery and probably five times out of ten I’ll hear a little voice saying, “Mommy, look there’s the ice cream lady!” So it’s kind of fun to be recognized that way and make people happy. I like that.

I also like that all of the cities in Miami County come together to partner with each other to do festivals and events. I love that. I love the Miami County Visitors Bureau, they always get us on the calendar and promote our business and that’s really nice.

Her favorite Miami County spots:
We love to go to the Miami County Parks District’s Fall Farm Fest. That’s really fun for us. That’s usually the last of the year with the ice cream trailer because that happens in October. Then we store it in a pole barn for the winter. For the first time last year we were in the Troy Strawberry Festival with the trailer and that was fun too. There are a lot of fun ones here.

Susie’s Big Dipper
323 North Main Street Piqua OH 45356
Facebook: @Susiesbigdipper

Follow our storyteller and interviewer, Courtney Denning, at ThisOhioLife.com.