- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Ben & Jerry’s Eastern Market Scoop Shop is being sold to the District’s nonprofit Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) under the ice cream company’s PartnerShop Program.

The LAYC, a youth and family center that helps at-risk Latinos and other minorities, is purchasing the store so it can offer employment and job training to people who may face employment barriers.

“We are working with kids that don’t always have a history of being able to manage jobs with great ease,” said Lori Kaplan, the center’s executive director. “PartnerShops are very tied to [Ben & Jerry’s] social mission.”

That mission is to partner in innovative ways with local communities, said Martha Lunbeck, Ben & Jerry’s PartnerShop program manager.

PartnerShops are Ben & Jerry’s stores and concession stands owned and operated by nonprofit organizations. Ben & Jerry’s has 11 PartnerShops run by five nonprofits in the United States, and the company wants to expand the program in major metropolitan areas, Ms. Lunbeck said.

A year and a half ago, Ben and Jerry’s approached the LAYC to see if it would be interested in owning a PartnerShop, said Ms. Kaplan, who has worked with the LAYC since 1980.

Ben & Jerry’s looks for franchise candidates with a net worth of $175,000 per shop, according to the company’s Web site.

The Eastern Market Scoop Shop’s owner, Lori Johnston, had supplied Ben & Jerry’s with the names of the LAYC and some other organizations. Since she has hired many successful employees who were recommended by the LAYC, Ms. Johnston knew the center was strong and reliable. Shortly after mentioning the LAYC to Ben & Jerry’s, she became a member of its board.

Ms. Johnston, who started scooping ice cream for Ben & Jerry’s in 1989, decided this spring to sell the Eastern Market store she opened in 1999. Her deep personal ties to the Capitol Hill area meant she did not want to part with her franchise completely, she said.

“I was very particular about who it would actually go to,” Ms. Johnston said. She knew she could trust the LAYC to take good care of her store, so she decided to sell it to the center, she said.

As an LAYC board member, Ms. Johnston said, she will remain involved in helping to manage the store.

Ben & Jerry’s PartnerShop program will give the LAYC good publicity and access to a new neighborhood that may get involved with the center, Ms. Johnston said.

Ms. Kaplan said she is looking forward to the employment opportunities the new store will offer. LAYC employees will be phased in as positions in the store open up, she said.

“The goal is not that they [future employees] will be scooping ice cream forever,” Ms. Kaplan said. “The goal is that they will move up.”

Ms. Kaplan hopes the center will complete the purchase of the store by Oct. 15. The plan has been approved by Ben & Jerry’s, but the center is straightening out a few details, she said.

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