Monument’s newest retailer making things personal

Richard and Denise Hauf ditched their successful Internet business and will open Pikes Peak Ice Cream and Gelato on Nov. 6 at the Monument Plaza Shopping Center.
Richard and Denise Hauf ditched their successful Internet business and will open Pikes Peak Ice Cream and Gelato on Nov. 6 at the Monument Plaza Shopping Center.

Richard Hauf jumped into entrepreneurship fresh out of graduate school.

Upon earning his MBA from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Hauf and his wife Denise couldn’t wait to get started in business. They opened an Internet retail operation, moved to Florida and built a successful business.

But the Haufs grew tired of conducting business impersonally. When they returned to the Colorado Springs area during 2007, they imagined life as brick and mortar retailers. They dreamed of one day owning an ice cream store. They researched and planned, looked for space around town and finally found the perfect spot — in their hometown of Monument.

The Haufs will launch Pikes Peak Ice Cream and Gelato with a soft opening Nov. 6 and host a grand opening on Nov. 13 at the Monument Plaza Shopping Center on Highway 105.

“About a year ago we got to the point of being pretty burned out on the impersonal nature of the Internet,” Hauf said. “Our backgrounds are in face-to-face retail. We’ve talked about it ever since we got married 16 years ago, and we knew we wanted to own and operate a restaurant, interfacing directly with the public. Last year we decided the timing was right.”

Once the decision was made, the Haufs performed a ton of market research — and the demographics pointed to Monument.

“One of the primary reasons we chose this area was that this was our home town,” Hauf said. “Emotionally we’re tied to the Monument area. Secondly, the growth in this region is to the north and east, and we wanted to be in an area that was growing and seeing a good amount of development. “

Hauf also recognized the area experiences heavy commuter traffic, and that Monument’s median household income is $110,000.

The couple spent nearly a year researching. They looked at locations in the newly opened University Village Colorado shopping center and on North Academy Boulevard, but they found their best option closer to home.

The space is 1,500 square feet, large for an ice cream store, but the new owners will need it because they’ll be making hand-made ice cream and gelato on site.

“The No. 1 thing people have been asking us lately is, ‘why are you opening an ice cream store at the start of winter,’” Hauf said. “However, the scoop shop is just a small portion of our business model. The greater portion is producing ice cream and gelato for restaurants, coffee shops, fundraisers and the wholesale market for handmade ice cream in Colorado Springs.”

The owners also will offer catering service for occasions such as weddings and holiday parties, and use a mobile cart for sales outside the business.

In firm support of the buy-local philosophy, the Haufs will purchase all the ingredients for their ice cream from local dairies and farmers when possible. They’ve decide to buy gelato ingredients from Italy because they want to duplicate the original Italian product.

Hauf said he felt the timing was right to open his newest retail venture, even as retailers continue to suffer because of the tough economic times.

“Ice cream has proven over time to be a very recession-proof industry,” Hauf said. “If you look at the big ice cream manufacturers, Ben and Jerry’s, Dreyers and such, they have been very successful over the last three or four years. Going back to the Great Depression, ice cream companies weathered the storm relatively well compared to others during lean economic times. And personally, I think we’ve seen the bottom of the economy.”

Scott Prater covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.