Valdosta Daily Times

January 9, 2013

Getting the Scoop

Kay Harris
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Over the years, The Scoop has become an institution in Valdosta, serving up ice cream, sandwiches, and, well, the best way to describe it would be love.

Partners Dorothy Goodloe and Vicki Edwards have been working together for many years and have managed to stay good friends and business partners with no unkind words to say about each other.

Edwards describes their relationship as “Lucy and Ethel — she’s Lucy and I’m Ethel.” Goodloe is the quieter partner with an eye for organization while Edwards is the more talkative one with a knack for finding bargains. Both ladies cook and work together every day in the kitchen.

“We’ve been together so long that if one of us walks away from something and it’s not finished, the other one can walk up and finish it without saying a word,” said Goodloe.

If they don’t agree on a topic, they table it until they can find a time to discuss it, and sometimes they just take a leap of faith and tell the other to go ahead with their idea, with no “I told you so’s” if it doesn’t work.

The two worked together in a physician’s office for many years and started a concession wagon business that they took to arts and crafts fairs, ball games, etc.

“We were working all day and then taking the wagon out at night and on the weekends. We decided that one day, if we could, we would do it totally,” said Edwards.

That day presented itself, and after the location on Sugar Creek Plaza became available and the rest of the pieces came together, they opened The Scoop in July of 1999, and it’s been full steam ahead ever since.

Goodloe and Edwards did research, worked with the VSU Small Business Development Center and visited other shops before opening. Initially, they only sold ice cream but during the cooler months, Goodloe said they needed something else to carry them through so they started serving hot dogs and it went on from there.

Today, The Scoop is as well known for its sandwiches as it is for its ice cream. The homemade chicken salad is a favorite with customers but Fridays are their busiest days.

“Dorothy’s son charcoal grills hamburgers out the back and we serve them with potato wedges. Last Friday we were so packed you could hardly get in here, but we loved it,” said Edwards.

In 2005, The Scoop relocated to Northside Drive in a small strip center next to Mink Chiropractic. Although the street is quieter than Baytree, their business has continued to thrive, not only because of their incredible work ethic but their overall business philosophy. The ladies are anything but your typical entrepreneurs — they “rarely” say no.

“I had a man call me and ask me to bake a German Chocolate cake. I’d never made one before from scratch, but I just told him ‘sure’ and went and found a recipe,” said Edwards, laughing. “We have no sense!”

They added cakes, brownies, cookies, etc., several years ago and custom bake cakes for customers by request. During the holiday season, Goodloe said they averaged 18 hours a day baking just to keep up. But they never turned anybody down who asked.

They also keep watch over their customers, many of whom have been faithfully coming in since 1999. Some visit daily, and many order the same thing so often that Edwards said, “We see them pull into the parking lot and we’re already making it before they walk in the door, so we tell them if they want something different, they’d better let us know before they get here!”

Since they spend most of their time in the kitchen cooking and preparing the food, while the front counter workers take the orders and dip ice cream for customers, they can’t always see who comes in, but they know from the orders.

“We have some customers who order things in a way that we know it’s them. We’ll look at the ticket and say, ‘Oh, so and so just came in,’” said Edwards.

Not only do they know their customers’ eating habits, they know when they haven’t seen them in a while.

“We’ve been known to call someone and say, ‘Are you OK? We just wanted to check on you because we haven’t seen you in awhile,” Edwards said.

Customers come into The Scoop, with its old-fashioned soda shop appeal and black-and-white interior with splashes of red, and they may stay for a couple of hours. Or more. They visit with old friends and make new ones. The restaurant stays open until 7 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays because they have customers who come in those nights every week.

And there is no radio playing in the background, on purpose. Goodloe and Edwards want to make sure that their customers can have conversations without having to talk over music.

It’s so quiet, Edwards said they can hear their favorite sound, as she demonstrated by moving a chair across the floor, making a scraping sound.

“When we hear the chairs moving, we know we’ve got a big group coming in and they’re putting tables together. We love that noise!”

While The Scoop doesn’t open until 11 a.m. daily, there are occasionally customers who show up before hours, and sometimes after hours, who will knock on the door.

“They’ll knock and say, ‘I hate to bother you, but all I want is ...,’” said Edwards. “And they’ll come in and we’ll fix it!”

The customers are treated as valued friends and the staff is treated like family. The ladies employ college students mostly, although Edwards’ high school age daughter works there on the weekends, and the young people become just like their children.

“Every time we hire someone new, we always tell each other to not get attached, but we do,” said Edwards.

Goodloe talked about a young man who worked while at VSU and couldn’t wait to start his job in Atlanta when he graduated.

“He called the day before New Year’s and said he was coming to Valdosta, and I teased him about why he would leave Atlanta on News Year’s Eve. He said it was too crowded and crazy and he missed it here!”

Goodloe said he and another former employee came in to eat and the place was packed.

“They were sitting at the counter and the next thing we know, there are these tickets coming into the kitchen. They had gotten up and started working!”

Goodloe and Edwards love coming to work every day and it shows in how they treat their customers and employees, but also each other.

“We’ve been blessed. God is good,” said Edwards, with Goodloe adding, “In these tough economic times, when you can still open the doors every day and have customers, you are very fortunate.”