Biz Idea: Hawaiian Shave Ice Franchise

Matsumoto Shave Ice It started innocently enough. My fiancee took me to a Hawaiian shave ice (yup, it’s “shave ice,” not “shaved ice” with a “d”) shop one day. The famous Matsumoto Shave Ice shop, to be specific.

And I fell in love. With the Hawaiian shave ice, I mean. I was already in love with my fiancee, of course. (Plug disclaimer: her relatives own Matsumoto Shave Ice.)

What is Hawaiian Shave Ice?

If you haven’t had the pleasure of trying Hawaiian shave ice before, let me enlighten you. First, you start with finely shaved ice. Very finely shaved ice. If you’ve had a Slurpee, snow cone, or Italian ice, that’s not finely shaved enough. Hawaiian shave ice is more like fresh, fluffy snow. Those others come off like coarse ice in comparison.

Next, you add some delicious syrup. Flavors include strawberry, pineapple, lemon, coconut, banana, vanilla, root beer, grape, lime, melon, mango, lychee, peach… you get the idea. All of this can sit on top of vanilla ice cream (which adds a nice, creamy component, if you like that) or sweet red beans (mmm mmm good). Then you top it all off with sweetened condensed milk. And that’s all there is to Hawaiian shave ice. All of these ingredients are optional and can be mixed-and-matched to your tastes.

(Oh boy, my mouth is so salivating as I write this.)

Potential Market Need?

When I returned to the hot California weather and faced droughts & wildfires, I longed for more of that sweet Hawaiian shave ice. The only offerings around me were frozen yogurt shops. Good as they were, they aren’t refreshing like finely shaved ice is.

So as Asian-influenced frozen yogurt shops like Pinkberry, Red Mango, and a bunch of self-serve froyo shops spread like Starbucks (SBUX), I can’t help but wonder if Hawaiian shave iced shops could fare just as well. They’ve certainly got a lot going for them:

  • The refreshment factor, especially in hot, dry weather
  • The novelty factor; I don’t think many Americans outside of Hawaii are familiar with this
  • The operating costs shouldn’t be much higher than a frozen yogurt shop

I also mentioned this idea as a Facebook status update and got alot of surprisingly enthusiastic responses. Granted, they could just be friends showing support, but it shows that there certainly are potential customers. Like me, for one!

Anyone want to create such a shop? Then launch it into a national franchise? Methinks it’s got potential. And you can open your first store right next to me please. Thank you.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.