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Local businesses' secret to beating recession: Ice cream rolls and gold

Friendly's and Winter Park jeweler beat the odds

ORLANDO, Fla. – While the great recession hit businesses across Central Florida, two local companies said they turned to old standards to stay afloat: gold and ice cream.

For Friendly’s on International Drive, the old time ice cream rolls like wattamelon, Dutch fudge and jubille kept a steady cash flow courtesy of their loyal fan base.

John Genest, Friendly’s director of operations in Florida, said the demand was there even when customers weren’t coming into the restaurant for meals.

“We have a hard time keeping (ice cream rolls) in stock," Genest said. "People will actually call and order them by the case.”

In Winter Park, jewelry was the last thing on consumers’ must-have list, but Christopher Roberts of Unique Diamond Boutique decided to purchase gold jewelry from consumers no matter what shape it was in. The gold was then sold to a wholesaler for melting.

“Doing the gold-buying allowed us to keep our lights on and pay our staff and really make it through the recession,” Roberts said.

His survival model included an app that allows customers to snap a shot of a watch or jewelry piece and as the name of his app says: “Try it on.” 

“You wouldn’t think that a small local retailer here in Orlando would be able to develop something like that, but during the lean times, you have to adapt,” Roberts said.

Friendly’s president and CEO, John Macguire, said the ice cream holds fond memories for longtime customers.

“I think it was FDR,” Macguire said. “He has this awesome quote he said during the recession: “Ice cream can solve any problem, if only for a moment.”

Click here for more information on the list of Friendly’s Ice Cream rolls.

Click here for more information on Unique Diamond Boutiques. Their “Try It On” app. You can get it for free on Android or Apple.