I scream, you scream, we all scream for Stewart's ice cream -- especially if we live in upstate New York or Vermont, home to more than 325 Stewart's Shops. The chain of convenience stores sell more than 3,000 products, including dairy items, groceries, food to go (soup, sandwiches, hot entrees), beer, coffee, gasoline, and, of course, ice cream. In addition to its retail business, the company owns about 100 rental properties, including banks, hair salons, and apartments, near its stores. Stewart's Shops, formerly known as Stewart's Ice Cream Company, was established in 1945. The founding Dake family owns about two-thirds of the company; employee compensation plans own the rest.
Stewart's Shops makes its own ice cream -- more than 50 flavors, both hand-dipped and packaged -- and dairy products. Recognized for its quality products, the company relies on a group of about 45 farmers in New York to supply its milk. The vertically-integrated company, which makes about 75% of the items it sells, also offers private-label goods and national brands in its stores. Its private-label brands extend far beyond dairy products to include soda, chips, bread, and juices. The company rang up more than $1 billion in 2011. – less