Annie Stranger found a sweet spot in Liberty Lake for the first brick-and-mortar location of her business Sweet Annie's Artisan Creamery.
"We've been doing farmers markets and events for the past few years," says Stranger, who was a regular at the South Perry Thursday Market, "and have always had great support from the Spokane and Liberty Lake communities."
Located on the western end of Liberty Lake in a newly developed business strip across from Orchard Park, Sweet Annie's specializes in housemade, locally sourced and carefully curated ice cream flavors.
The creamery currently offers 16 flavors ($2.50-$6/scoop, $10-$20/pint). Two of those flavors are vegan and two others are seasonal (try the Pumpkin Pie Me) all made with cream from Pure Eire Dairy's organically fed cows in Othello, Washington. Toppings like pecan oatmeal crumble or bacon brittle are also housemade ($.75 each), as are the goodies that go in gourmet sundaes like the Voodoo Magic ($12) with a beignet, or the Crunch Berry Glitter Sand in the After School Special ($8.50).
Also look for seasonal specials like new hot chocolate drinks with melting chocolates, as featured in the Melting Witch ($5.50-$7), and ingredients from other local providers including Tonnemaker's Fruit, Vessel Coffee Roasters and Footehills Farms.
"While we put a tremendous amount of energy into creating all of our mix-ins and toppings in house, it's the organic, grass-fed dairy that we source exclusively from Pure Eire that sets us apart," says Stranger.
Although the varying fat content in the cows' milk requires some adjustment in each recipe, supporting local and the amazing flavor in the ice cream is worth it, she adds.
Stranger started the business in 2015, beginning with a "pints club" to test flavors, and turning a family affinity for homemade ice cream into the beginnings of a cottage business. She took advantage of numerous business development support options, including the Women's Business Center and Washington State University's Center for Innovation, to kickstart her initial cart-based company. As her ice cream gained in popularity (it's also available at Rocket Market on Spokane's South Hill) Stranger fine-tuned her approach.
This is the second career for the Coeur d'Alene native whose background is in commercial design. After about eight years in the Big Apple, Stranger returned to the Inland Northwest with the idea to open an ice cream shop catering to grownups.
Instead, she fashioned a business based on a blend of elevated traditional flavors like bourbon bananas foster and interesting new ones like the seasonal rooibos chai, with plenty to appeal to all ages and both new and repeat customers.
"While living — and eating — in New York, I learned that you can provide a complete and very special experience for your customers when you combine amazing food, a joyful environment and top-notch customer service," says Stranger. ♦