When Margie Blanton stepped in to revitalize Occoquan's small ice cream shop last summer, her business soon expanded beyond the capacities of the 200-square-foot shop.
In December, she moved MJ's Ice Cream-N-More from Union Street to Mill Street, and the more prominent location and recent warm weather have boosted her business even further.
"Everyone's noticing there's an ice cream shop in town," she said. In her previous location, tucked away next to the Blue Arbor Cafe, she said some visitors never realized an ice cream shop existed. "Amazing, since it had been there since the 60s."
When the owner of Princess Confectionery on Mill Street decided to move, Blanton decided to take over that spot. She closed her shop at the end of November and reopened in her new location by Dec. 10.
Since Princess Confectionery had fudge and other candies, Blanton hopes that passersby with a sweet tooth will give MJ's Ice Cream-N-More a try.
She now has 400 more square feet of space, which gives her enough room to satisfy the demand for her fudge, which has grown in popularity since Fox Meadow Winery in Linden picked it up for a showing last fall. The ice cream still features prominently in her new location, and she also sells hot dogs, nachos, sandwiches, Philadelphia-style soft pretzels, brownies, scones (on the weekends), candy, Slurpee-style flavored frozen drinks, fresh squeezed lemonade, and old-fashioned sodas (club sodas with flavored syrups.)
The new location offers outdoor seating under the cover of a porch roof. Customers can sit within view of the Occoquan River.
"It's more kid friendly," Blanton said.
When I visited on Friday to interview Blanton, there was a steady stream of customers.
"I'm excited about what's going to happen toward the summer," she said. "It'd be nice to have those lines going down the street."
On May 5, Blanton will host an open house at MJ's Ice Cream-N-More. She hopes to get a face painter and a local chocolate maker in for the event.