Rain or Shine Homemade Ice Cream Ltd
By YP Contributor

Here’s the Scoop

It’s mid-afternoon on a dreary February day, but that doesn’t stop the steady flow of customers at Rain or Shine Ice Cream on West 4th. Husband and wife team Blair Casey and Josie Fenton launched the Kitsilano ice cream emporium back in 2013, and opened a second location in Cambie Village in 2015. The sweet couple had a sweet tooth and a love of ice cream, but couldn’t find any local shops selling pure, locally sourced frozen treats. They were daunted by the ingredients found in grocery store ice cream. “We try to eat healthy foods, why can’t our ice cream be healthy too?" Josie says. "We thought, let’s purify!”

Josie and Blair started making their own ice cream, churning at home and experimenting with flavours. They hosted tastings with friends, who loved the product and encouraged them to open their own venture. The pair had wanted to go into business together, and this was the perfect opportunity. Josie, a teacher, is the ideas person. Blair, a former businessman, is the practical one. When asked about mixing their personal and business lives together, Josie smiles. “It’s worked out well. It’s been fun, and rewarding.”

The name Rain or Shine felt “symbolic of Vancouverites,” Josie notes. It also had the optimistic tone they were after. Although a seasonal business to some extent, the lulls aren’t steep. There are rarely empty spells at the counter, even in the middle of winter. Besides, whoever said ice cream is just for summer?

We try to eat healthy foods, why can’t our ice cream be healthy too? - Josie Fenton, co-owner
Owners Blair and Josie are the sweet husband-and-wife team behind the sweets at Rain or Shine.
Owners Blair Casey and Josie Fenton are the sweet husband-and-wife team behind the sweets at Rain or Shine.

Flavour Flave

Rain or Shine’s ice cream base is sourced from Birchwood Dairy in Abbotsford; the suppliers have created a customized mix using a short ingredient list. The creamy base has less sugar than most ice creams, “We want to highlight flavours, not just sweetness,” Josie says.

All flavourful ingredient additions are sourced locally, including lavender from Tuscan Farms and blueberries from Hazelmere Organics. "We try our best to get organic or fair trade, premium quality ingredients," says Josie. "We're about locally sourced, organic, non-GMO — that’s what makes our ice cream so good.”

The shop boasts 11 full-time flavours (or “keepers”), including salted caramel and blueberry balsamic. The menu also features a half dozen other “seasonal flings" — rotating flavours like Mexican hot chocolate or kiwi sorbet — that are updated every few months. “We encourage our customers to try different flavours.  We want them to be surprised, to try flavours outside of their go-to choices.” Josie winks. The four-scoop tasting flights are a great way to sample new flavours with a good amount to share.

Blair’s own love of craft beer led the shop to partner with local breweries for their beer flavoured ice cream. The couple use a strong beer like porter, reduce it for flavour, add brown sugar, and then make the ice cream. The brew-inspired dessert is a big hit with local beer fans. “It was a great way to partner with other small businesses," Josie explains." We love collaborating.”

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Vancouver ice cream shop without vegan options, and there are always at least two dairy-free flavours on offer, made with coconut milk. Visitors can also opt for diet-conscious toppings such as cocoa nibs (a raw form of cocoa used as a healthier alternative to chocolate) and honeycomb made without corn syrup.

For some messy fun, stop in on Taco Tuesday for a waffle cone shaped like a taco stuffed with two ice cream flavours and topped with whip cream. Rain or Shine's other offerings include take-away ice cream cartons, milkshakes and sundaes. Everything is made in house, from scratch, in a kitchen so sparkling clean you could lick the floor.

Rain or Shine offers handcrafted, pure ice cream treats available in a range of seasonal flavours.
Four-scoop tasting flights are a great way to sample a variety of ice cream flavours. Photo courtesy of Rain or Shine.

A Sweet Approach

Rain or Shine also likes to give back to the community, focusing on a different charity each season; past initiatives include a drive for United Way, and a partnership with the Make a Wish foundation. All charitable projects deliver ice cream along with funds raised. “Community is important to us," says Josie. "We try to do what we can.” The handy Rain or Shine cart also delivers ice cream or customized ice cream cakes to corporate events, weddings, and anyone else who screams for ice cream.

During the warmer months, Rain or Shine's exterior patio area, a parklet pilot project supported by the City of Vancouver, serves as a neighbourhood gathering place. The patio extends the shop, allowing people to socialize and get to know each other in the outdoors. “Ice cream gets people interacting,” Josie says, and this is a core value for the sweet-toothed business owners. "We want to make our neighbourhood happy, bring a smile to faces, have an enjoyable moment.”

Rain or Shine's chalkboard menu boasts 11 full-time flavours (or “keepers”) and a selection of seasonal varieties.
Rain or Shine's chalkboard menu boasts 11 full-time flavours and a selection of seasonal creations.
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