I Scream. You Scream. We All Scream for Earl Nicholie
When one thinks of local flavor in Southern Pines region, The Artic Creamery is one of the quintessential hot spots.
The ice cream parlor boasts homemade ice cream with unique flavors and the choice to customize any ice cream by mixing assorted candies and nuts. The walls are decorated with the tale of Waddles the penguin, who doesn't care for fish and enjoys ice cream instead.
Many customers don't know the story of Earl Nicholie, the Willy Wonka behind Arctic Creamery. Many customers and employees can attest to his all-around positive aura and friendly manner with which he greets customers. He frequently chats with customers about local events while he serves them their ice cream.
But who is Earl Nicholie, really?
Earl, now at the ripe age of 62, is originally from Michigan. He moved to the Southern Pines area 12 years ago. He had worked for an insurance agency and in real estate development, and, three years ago, he started The Arctic Creamery with his family simply because he thought it was something that could enrich the community.
At the time, there were only two other ice cream shops in town. He also saw this as an opportunity to give local teens some work opportunities in high school.
"I wanted something where they could have a job and a good work experience," Nicholie says.
He looked at numerous ice cream shops, but ultimately decided against a franchise. Nicholie's wife came up with a memorable story of Waddles in the store, which gives the store its own unique flavor. With help from a chef from The White House, he perfected the ice cream flavors that customers enjoy at The Artic Creamery.
"You can pretty much make any flavor into ice cream," he says.
With Southern Pines becoming much larger and chains coming in, there have been some ups and downs. Earl works seven days a week, does all the advertising and makes all the ice cream.
"I've only missed one day," he says, "and that was for a root canal."
All in all, Nicholie says, the job can be pretty taxing. But he says it all pays off in the end, and business is going great.
"When I was in the insurance business, people didn't like to buy insurance," he says. "Ice cream is a lot different."
Nicholie finds that working with high schoolers is very rewarding and gives him a young perspective on things.
"We have some great kids in this town," he says, "from all of the schools."
In the area where the ice cream is made and stored there is a tiny piece of paper with a quote on it. I think this quote sums up everything about Earl. It reads as follows:
"Integrity is not what you appear to be when all eyes are on you. It's who are when no one is looking. It's a level of morality below which you never fall, no matter what's happening around you. It's a high standard of honesty, truthfulness, decency, and honor that is never breached."
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