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The snow cart business may sound great, but any smart person will ask the same question, whether it’s snow cones or any other business: how much does it cost to start? This is a great question, as not many of us have a ton of extra cash … if we did, we wouldn’t be looking for an amazing cash bargain like snow stalls!


In most states, and even some counties and cities, you will need to make sure you have all business licenses available to operate. In some states, these cost as low as $ 50 in total, while in many others they can run as high as a couple hundred, but they shouldn’t cost more than that. The cost also varies if you have an attorney draft the business documents for you, or if you decide to do it yourself and file the application with the court in person. These fees can usually be offset by a good day or two.

The Snow Cone Cart

Prices can vary greatly depending on the type of cart you buy to get started. In fact, this expense is the most important factor in determining start-up costs. Snow carts range from $ 400 to $ 4,000 for new shaved ice carts. There is also a great variety between these two extremes, but many people decide to start with snow cone carts that cost less than $ 1,000, and many get their money back in no time with just a few really good days of cash.

While many people will do very well starting out with a small cart, don’t just rely on price. There’s nothing wrong with starting cheap and progressing (especially how often the shaved ice business doesn’t even feel like a job), but what if the initial demand for your snow cones is three or four times higher than you can provide? Not only do all those profits disappear, but you’ll still have to buy a bigger, more expensive snow cone stand. Take the time to make sure you are making the right decision in this regard.

Shaved ice machine

The next most expensive piece of equipment is the shaved ice machine itself. The machine, along with its stand, is one of the cornerstones of starting your business, and entry-level machines are most commonly found in the $ 400- $ 600 range. The best place to find a good machine is Shaved ice is through a real supplier or an online website that specializes in them. Many of these sites will actually have multiple machines for easy comparison, making it easier for you to see the available offers and decide which one is the best for you.

Buy supplies in bulk

While prices may vary for the supplies you need to run the snow cone business, most of these will be at least in the same price range. For materials like paper cups, plastic spoons, or styrofoam cups, never be afraid to search locally for a Sam’s Club, Costco, or other wholesale store that can offer you the best deal. These types of roofing materials are inexpensive and, when purchased in bulk, often cost just pennies per snow cone sold.

Snow cone syrup

From actual general supplies, the concentrated syrup for mixing ingredients will cost more, and a gallon of this can cost anywhere from $ 30 to $ 50, depending on the flavor and the supplier. The good news is that one gallon of concentrate can yield 8 gallons of syrup, or 640 to 800 snow cones, leaving plenty of room for a lot of profit. Look for sales, especially when buying in bulk, as some places offer deep discounts for bulk orders.

What does this all mean?

Startup costs add up, but a snow cone business has really staggering profit margins, and it doesn’t take a lot of minor league games, flea markets, or big days to make up for a good chunk of that initial investment. It only takes a few days to get enough cash to make up for your entire investment, and after that, it’s pure profit.

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