Small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, the patient and the persistent. It’s for the overcomer. – Unknown



Washtenaw Dairy has been many things to many people in the community, and a home away from home for the neighborhood for almost 80 years.  what began as a dairy, has continued on as a family-friendly gathering spot for locals and visitors from all over, with ice cream and home made donuts and coffee and smiling faces, always happy to welcome in anyone who stops by.


when they proposed raising the price of a cup of coffee by 10 cents, topping out at over a dollar,

to at least break even, some of the morning regulars were upset,

so they decided to keep selling it at the old price,

and see it as a service to their loyal community. 


with the second generation of owners, one in their 60s, and his partner in his 80s, their quote sums up their approach “We won’t put on airs, we’re pretty much just workers,.” The workday starts early to make sure everything gets done. The first employees get to the store at two in the morning, the managers follow at four, and doors open at 5 a.m. “every day but Christmas.”


While ice cream is a big part of the business, the store also sells 150 dozen donuts a day.

“we don’t even know how to turn on a computer, we missed the whole tech thing and for us it’s really hard to get into.” despite the owner’s lack of technical know-how, they’ve been a major presence in the community for a long time. they donate ice cream or money to several hundred causes a year ranging from a the zen buddhist temple to the local high school hockey team. “we support the community, because the community supports us. that’s why it’s worked all these years. it adds up on your bottom line, but these same people come down with their families and buy ice cream. they’ve come for years and supported us.”


The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance.

Remember, the greatest failure is to not try.

Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.

– Debbie Fields




56 responses »

  1. I would buy something there every day, just because I could and should, Beth. This neighborhood joint deserves a spot on a network morning show for sticking to its values! Thanks for the words and photos to let us share in the warm feeling that Washtenaw Dairy exists,


  2. How rare it is to still see this kind of business thriving. And how downright charming. It says a lot about your community and even more about the owners who stand by them. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Outstanding post, with great photos, wonderful quote by Debbie Fields’ an entrepreneur extroadinaire, (sp?) and your lovely tribute to the small business owners who are giving very fair prices for delicious treats! Yummy! I would like an ice cream cone and a donut, right now, Please!


  4. Thanks, Beth, for bringing these hardworking and giving people to our attention. I think their “give back” philosophy is the best. I would definitey give them my business if I were in the neighborhood. Your pics are amazing, I can almost taste the doughnuts!


  5. Okay, the Washtenaw Dairy is now on my Life List of mandatory places to visit. As an ice cream addict, I can tell by the picture that it’s to die for. In Ann Arbor, I presume? I didn’t miss the donuts, either. Yum! Nice post and shout-out to hardworking folks who appreciate community support. Thanks, Beth!


  6. It brings back memories. The Clarion Dairy in Clarion, Iowa used to look just like this and sell ice cream, donuts, and other snacks. My grandparents used to take me there for ice cream on Sundays. Mint Chocolate Chip and Rocky Road… mmmm!


  7. Reblogged this on b19y and commented:

    I grew up going to Washtenaw Dairy for ice cream. The thirty minute drive was always worth it, and I try to get back there when I’m in town. Worth a visit if you’re around.


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