MSU Dairy Store

Author: In the Field

“We try to make it a fun place where students can kind of get away and come and enjoy themselves ” said Brooke Pugh, MSU Dairy Store manager. Alumni from Michigan State are also frequent customers.

May 22, 2018

MSU Dairy Store employees and Kraig Ehm

“We try to make it a fun place where students can kind of get away and come and enjoy themselves ” said Brooke Pugh, MSU Dairy Store manager. Alumni from Michigan State are also frequent customers.

in the field_msu dairy store2

In the Field: The Dairy Store at Michigan State University - Transcript

Kraig Ehm: Welcome to In the Field, a podcast originating from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University. I'm Kraig Ehm. In this episode of In the Field, I'm at the dairy store on the campus of Michigan State University talking with Brooke Pew, Dairy Store Manager. Brooke, thanks for joining me.

Brooke Pew: Thanks for having me.

Ehm: Now the dairy store is the main attraction on campus. Brooke, why is it so popular?

Pew: I think that the dairy store is so popular because we try to make it a fun place where students can kind of get away and come and enjoy themselves. We have 20 different flavors so we can pretty much accommodate any student that comes in when they're looking for different flavors. They come in see a friendly face and they can just kind of relax here.

Ehm: But we're also talking alums.

Pew: Absolutely. They see almost themselves here on campus when they were younger and working through college. So I think that they come in and they even have conversations with the students and giving them advice and asking them how their time here is at Michigan State University.

Ehm: What are some of the different products that you offer?

Pew: We offer quite a few products here. We have our ice cream of course, those come in three gallon tubs and they come in half gallons. We have something called the changeover, which is a fantastic way to get your ice cream craving filled. That is two flavors. We have one on the bottom and then a different flavor on the top. So if someone can't make up their mind on what they would like, they can choose one of those. We also offer ice cream sandwiches. We now make those here right in the dairy plant, so they make them, package them and then send them over to the store to sell. The plant also makes cheese. The cheese is made over there and then comes directly over to the store and we use that same cheese to make our grilled cheese sandwiches.

Ehm: Do you find it to your advantage to be able to make your products right across the hall and then bring them over?

Pew: Absolutely. I think that most people that come here know that the product is made right here on campus. We try to incorporate other things on campus like MSU Bakers supplies our bread for our grilled cheese sandwiches. And like I said, our ice cream, our cheese is made right here, so we know what's going into it, where it's coming from, and it just makes it easier for us, I think.

Ehm: The dairy store recently won an award.

Pew: Yes. We just went to Pink Desert Wars. It was for breast cancer awareness and the MSU Dairy Store was there. We won the 2015 Desert Wars Pioneer Award for using the most Michigan produced food products and that was sponsored by Pioneer Sugar. There were, I think it was about 15 entries that were at the Desert Wars as well and for this specific thing we entered with our raspberry chocolate chunks flavoring, and it was 90% made in Michigan. So that's why we were recognized with this award.

Ehm: What are the top sellers and why?

Pew: We have two top sellers right now. It's our Sesquicentennial Swirl, which is Michigan State's flavor. It represents 150 years of Michigan State's campus. It's our cake batter ice cream with a green frosting swirl and our cake pieces, and I think that's popular because it kinda ties like Michigan State together. When people come in, and especially during football season, the big 10 we have all the big 10 flavors, so when Michigan State, especially on game days are playing, everyone wants the Michigan State flavor. And then our second one is the Buckeye Blitz. I believe that is popular because it incorporates the peanut butter, the chocolate. I just think a lot of people really enjoy that combination of ice cream.

Ehm: New recipes, have you created one lately?

Pew: Yes. Just this summer we created a flavor for the Boy Scouts, The Order of the Arrow. It was a cake batter ice cream and it had a frosting swirl and it was red. That's just the color that they were wearing for their scarves and things like that, so we incorporated the red in there. We also supplied the Boy Scouts with their flavor to scoop themselves, but that was a crazy time for us because the Boy Scouts knew their flavor was here so they were knocking down the doors before the store even opened to try the flavor that we had made for them.

Ehm: With the Dairy Store being so popular, what are some of the reactions you get from customers who come in?

Pew: Positive reactions. The customers really enjoy the hand written, I guess it's in paint, on the glass. They like to see what we come up with for names. They like to see the different drawings. Just for Halloween we changed all of the flavors to Halloween names, so we decorated with kind of spooky names for all the flavors. We put new decorations on, fake blood, things like that and they know that we were doing those kinds of things, especially for holidays. They can come in and check out the new names. So I think that they enjoy coming in and seeing that and they also enjoy being able to try different flavors. If they come in and they're not sure what they like, they can say, "Hey, can I sample this," and we'll gladly give them a sample of whatever they want to try. So I think they look forward to coming and seeing what's new, trying that new flavor.

Scott Mason talks to customers: Hey, how are you guys doing today?

Customer: Fine. How are you?

Mason: I'm doing all right. Do you guys know what you'd like?

Customer: He would like a float.

Mason: A float. Okay. What kind of float?

Ehm: You have student workers. What's it like working with them?

Pew: Oh, it's great. They always are very happy to come here. I think they get a break from school, they get to come in and just a lot of them are friends outside of work so they just enjoy each other's company. They can take a break from school and they get to scoop ice cream for happy people. I mean people are coming in and they just get to enjoy everyone's company and almost doesn't feel like work.

Ehm:                                  I'm also talking with Scott Mason, Supervisor at the Dairy Store. Scott, thanks for joining me.

Mason: Yeah, thanks for having me today.

Ehm: What's it like working here? You've worked here quite awhile, haven't you?

Mason: I have. I started working here when I was a freshman and I got hired after spring break freshman year. So yeah, it's been a blast. I've kind of grown with this place and kind of grown up through college working here. So it's been a fun ride and I graduate in December, so it's been a good time.

Ehm: What are some of your responsibilities, not only as a worker but as a supervisor?

Mason: Okay. Well I started off as just a normal employee and I worked for about a year and then got promoted to supervisor. And once you get promoted to a supervisor you just are more responsible for the shift and everything that goes on, and making sure everything's running smoothly, making sure everyone's doing what they're supposed to.

Ehm: The Dairy Store is one of the top attractions at Michigan State University. Alums come by, what are some of the reactions or responses you get from alums?

Mason: Well, people come from all over. Who graduate, who'd been out for 20 years and they love to come back and see all their favorite flavors and get their favorite ice creams. So it's really cool to see a lot of different types of people who have been out of the university for awhile come back and enjoy their favorite flavors.

Ehm: Are you going to feel sad? I mean mixed reactions, you're going to graduate in December but then no more Dairy Store.

Mason: Right. So it is going to be sad because like I said, I've been here for so long but it will be time. Once I'm out, it will be time. I've, like I said, grown a lot through this place, but I'll keep in touch with everybody and everyone will continue to get promoted and stay on with the system and I'll just keep in touch with everybody. There's a lot of great flavors. Not everyone's been here before, that's for sure.

Customer 2: What's the most popular?

Mason: Most popular is the Sesquicentennial actually. So it's like cake batter ice cream with frosting, cake pieces. It's really good.

Customer 2: Can I do like a little bit of this and a little bit of that?

Mason: Yeah. If you get a double, you can get one scoop of each one.

Customer 2: Okay.

Mason: We're trying to get more and more people in every day and to try the big 10 flavors and to just experience everything we have to offer.

Ehm: I hear that the Dairy Store is now mobile?

Pew: Yes. We've been working on this project for awhile here. It just got delivered actually. It's a 26 foot enclosed trailer. It has two walk up windows and it's going to be hooked up to our Dairy Store truck and it can take it around campus. Right now we're trying to get it for football season next year so we can take it to the stadium, working out the kinks with that. Starting spring, it'll be open here just to the side of Anthony Hall and that will be operating normal store hours depending on the business that's coming in. The purpose of the trailer is to kind of alleviate some of the pressure of the line that comes into the store, especially when the store is really, really busy. Some people wait in line for 40 minutes to an hour. So we're hoping to alleviate that pressure so people can get in and out of here in a reasonable time. So we'll also be selling our cheese boxes for Christmas and Thanksgiving sales out in the trailer starting November 16th. So we're just kind of opening up to the people so they don't have to worry about lines. They have options on what store they want to visit.

Ehm: Do you ever have people who say, "Hey, I've got a great idea for an ice cream flavor."

Pew: Oh absolutely. All the time. We just got a email a few days ago with like six different ideas that they would like to see in flavors. I mean, we take that into consideration and if people are wanting that, we try to see what we can come up with. If there's events going on that people are requesting a flavor, depending on what's running through the plant we can sometimes do that.

Ehm: Anything with bacon?

Pew: With bacon? No, not right now.

Ehm: Okay. What puts a smile on your face when you come to work and manage the Dairy Store?

Pew: It's definitely the employees. They're here to learn. I mean, this is a learning environment. They're learning how to better their customer service skills, to just interact with each other and learn here. So when they come in, they're excited. I mean, they love to be here, they always have a smile on their face. They're always very eager to help the customers. As soon as someone walks in they're at the counter saying, "How are you doing? What can I help you with? Let me know if you have any questions." They're just here to help the customers and I think that's great, and I like being a manager of employees like that.

Ehm: I would like to thank Brooke Pew and Scott Mason from the MSU Dairy Store for joining me today. Be sure to listen next time for another episode of In the Field.