Student realizes ice cream dream with store

From exploring behaviour change strategies to dishing out Mango Tango, Joel Kang is now a scoop above the rest.

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From exploring behaviour change strategies to dishing out Mango Tango, Joel Kang is now a scoop above the rest.

Along with the hefty workload that comes with earning his masters, the 25-year-old Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (Health Promotion) student is now the youngest Baskin-Robbins franchisee and the only university student heading up his own franchise.

“I’ve never really opened a store before. I had no idea how hard it was going to be,” laughed Kang, whose mother still owns London’s first Baskin-Robbins location in Hyde Park. “It was really stressful. There were times I wanted to quit. But I knew that after all the hard work, there was going to an end and we’d be opening the store.”

Registered officially as the 102nd Baskin-Robbins in Canada, his new Wonderland Road South location store features the brand’s complete menu.

“This was an opportunity for us to now have the only two Baskin-Robbins in the city,” said Kang, who worked at the family store while in high school. “The sales were starting to grow; we were asked if we wanted to open a second one. We were seeing the rise in demand, so it seemed to make sense. I was like, ‘Let’s just open it.’”

Kang began almost a year ago working on plans for his store, choosing a location, dealing with the bank, suppliers and contractors, and putting a staff together – all while in the midst of his masters.

“I would be working almost every single day, all day long, then I’d stay up late into the night working on my school stuff – and then repeat the next day,” said Kang, who has one last defense before graduating this fall. “I can’t remember the last time I had a night or a weekend off.”

Now open just two months, the store owes some of its success to his Western Experience.

“I learned so much in university,” said Kang, who also joined the Naval Reserves while at Western.

“They both taught me so much about leadership skills and about persevering. I incorporate that hard-work ethic into running the business. There are always going to be hard days when you run your own business – that is when you need to grind through it.”

While his initial plans to earn a PhD have been “put off for now,” Kang’s focus will be on the new business and its further growth.

“It’s funny because I didn’t like business growing up. I didn’t expect to be here,” he said. “Now I find myself even thinking down the road about the potential for future growth. I’m always looking to expand the business.”

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