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Ellettsville Jiffy Treet receives record breaking sales following eclipse

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Danelle Clark prepared for a record-breaking sales day April 8, the day the total solar eclipse would track directly above the parking lot of the Ellettsville Jiffy Treet location. 

What happened in the sky was truly spectacular, but what happened on the ground did not go exactly to plan. At first, the crowd expected to watch the eclipse from the epicenter did not show.  

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Clark, the ice cream shop’s owner, started her workday at 7 a.m. This was the day she and the Jiffy Treet employees had been preparing for since they first heard about being the epicenter in January.  

She parked her family’s camper in the grass lot behind the 76-year-old building Friday evening to ensure she would easily escape any traffic she might encounter over the weekend. The sky was overcast Monday morning. She didn’t yet know what to expect.  

“I want to make the town proud,” she said Monday morning. 

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Jiffy Treet's neon sign glows in the darkened sky during the moments leading up to totality April 8, 2024, in Ellettsville. Visitors waited anxiously to watch the solar eclipse from the epicenter.

Clark and Casey Pace, the shop’s manager, spent the last three months ordering stock, organizing the store, upgrading the landscape and redesigning the menu, which featured limited time eclipse-themed flavors. They were told, as was the rest of Monroe County, the estimated number of visitors in the area could range from 200,000 to 300,000 people depending on the potential cloud cover or rain. When they learned they would be at the epicenter of the eclipse, they were shocked and nervous, but ultimately excited to be a part of something so monumental. 

As the time neared 3:04 p.m., the predicted start of the four minutes and 2.8 seconds of totality, the clouds disappeared, and the temperature was 74 degrees. The weather panned out, but Clark, Pace and the rest of the workers at Jiffy Treet felt overprepared. 

“I expected something a little different,” Clark said.  

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The parking lot was blocked off by orange cones until 9:30 a.m. so the store could better prepare to open at 10 a.m. Jiffy Treet’s ice cream trailer sat at the front of the parking lot with a second ordering station to take on the expected overflow. Employees’ cars were parked across the street at the car wash, which the shop rented out for the day to allow more room for visitors.  

“I hope everyone shows up,” Pace said the morning of. “We’re doing a lot.” 

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Mary and Lee Baker are the first two customers at 10 a.m., April 8, 2024, at Jiffy Treet in Ellettsville. Their order includes a small cup of "Lunar Blackout" and a footlong coney with mustard.

The first customers of the day stood in line ready to order when the window opened. Mary Baker, local Ellettsville resident, ordered a small cup of the limited time Lunar Blackout — a salted caramel base hand mixed with crushed homemade brownies, crushed Oreos and a dark chocolate swirl — and her husband, Lee, ordered a footlong Coney dog with mustard. As longtime friends of the owner, they stopped at the shop to buy t-shirts and support the business, but they planned to watch the eclipse from their home.  

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Jiffy Treet's new eclipse-themed menu items are pictured April 8, 2024, in Ellettsville. The menu is available for a limited time while supplies last.

Chris Lee, the next customer in line, traveled about seven hours from northern Chicago, instructed only by written directions. He visited the shop the night before, but since he couldn’t stay overnight, he parked down the road and slept in a Speedway parking lot. He came back to the shop at 6:30 a.m. to secure his spot eager to watch from the epicenter of the eclipse. 

Tourists traveled from every bordering state with some not even knowing where they would end up until the morning of the eclipse. Two hours before totality began, cars, vans, RVs and bikes sporadically entered the parking lot. Nearby residents traveled down the road for a mid-day snack, but many did not stay long after they finished eating.  

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Clark and Pace scheduled all their available employees to come in during the day, and they paid them time and a half for their efforts. However, there was not enough demand for the number of employees that were working – something they did not expect to encounter. Clark posted on social media that the predicted traffic did not occur, hoping to encourage more customers to visit the shop. 

The employees kept busy by constantly wiping down tables and taking out the trash. The fewer number of customers did not compare to a regular fast-paced business day, yet the service never waned.  

“At least everyone is making memories,” Clark said. “My kids will probably always remember this.” 

Around 2:50 p.m., Clark and Pace had everyone clock out for about 20 minutes to watch the entirety of the totality.  

When the sky darkened, the glow from the building remained. About 50 people who stayed to watch looked at the white ring of the sun behind the mood in awe – noticing the temperature drop and the sunset effect along the horizon. There was not a single car on the road.  

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State Road 45 in Ellettsville has no cars during the moments leading up to the total eclipse. The empty roads defied the heavily predicted traffic.

After the moment of shock and the day resumed, the window reopened for customers. Visitors packed up their items, made their final ice cream purchases, said goodbye to the people they had spent the day surrounded by and began their trek back to their homes, near and far. 

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Feeling defeated, the employees closed the trailer and brought the extra stock back inside. But just as they were finishing shutting it down around 3:45 p.m., and after the out-of-town travelers left, the parking lot filled and the drive-thru was slammed with customers.  

The line from the window extended to the front of the parking lot, where the trailer now sat empty. Clark sent all her employees back inside to handle the unexpected rush. She and Pace even called back three employees they had sent home earlier.  

Clark thought her earlier post could have prompted locals to come out to enjoy the rest of the beautiful day. For many, as it turned out, their days included a trip to Jiffy Treet. 

Jiffy Treet exceeded its previous sales record by over $1,000, which was last met in April 2023 on the first nice day of spring that year.  

“I just wanted it to be perfect, and I think I did it,” she said. 

Looking back, Clark said she did not think she would have been able to enjoy seeing the eclipse if the shop was crowded with lines earlier in the day. Thankfully, she was able to spend the entire four minutes of totality with her family and the employees fully present in the moment.  

“God’s plan was better than my plan,” she said. 

Her day ended with tears caused by an overwhelming amount of gratefulness that the day turned out the way they hoped, just not in the way they imagined.

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