At Stewart’s Shops, we want to make your life more convenient. We do that by offering you what you want, when you want it. There is a lot that goes into making Stewart’s Shops a quick stop for quality products at a fair price. From our history, to what we do behind the scenes that is different than many other business, here is a look inside Stewart’s Shops. Watch the Story of Stewart’s Shops
Charles V. and Percy borrow $10,000 to rent and convert a railroad freight station into an ice cream manufacturing plant. They purchase a bright red Model-T delivery truck and paint “Dake’s Delicious Ice Cream” on the side of it. They make deliveries of bulk ice cream to Saratoga, Troy, Schenectady, and Albany for $5 per 5-gallon can.
With the help of millionaire Robert McMullen, the ice cream plant is relocated to a new state-of-the-art building on Route 9N at a cost of $150,000. In the same year, McMullen builds the biggest, most modern cow barn in the country, which was 20 years ahead of its time. Despite all of its fine features, there was never a cow in the barn due to McMullen going broke with the stock market crash.
NYS requires all milk to be pasteurized. Before this, most milk is sold raw by small farms to neighbors, but now these small milk producers cannot afford to pasteurize their milk. Charles V. and Percy see an opportunity to get back into the dairy business and create Saratoga Dairy where they begin to pasteurize milk for area dairy farms. Their new family motto is, “If it ain’t got milk in it, stay out of it!” In 1938, Saratoga Springs City Water Works becomes new home of Saratoga Dairy
The Dake brothers purchase the building that becomes the butter plant. During the War, with butter rationing, this plant becomes the largest butter producer on the East Coast. Despite this success, the butter operation eventually becomes unprofitable and is shut down. This building was formerly the McMullen ‘state of the art’ milk plant.
The Dake brothers purchase a small dairy and ice cream business in Ballston Spa from Don Stewart, who had operated the business since 1918. Included in the sale were licenses to sell milk in other towns and a freezer and hardening room for making ice cream. The store front at the Stewart’s ice cream plant on Route 50 in Ballston was re-opened to sell ice cream and milk. This was the first Stewart’s Ice Cream Shop.
The purchase of Stewart’s Ice Cream coincides with the return of Charles V’s son, Charles S. Dake (Charlie), after serving two years in the infantry in Europe during WWII. Since ice cream had been rationed during the war years, there was a pent up demand for it, and sales were brisk at seven-cents for a single dip and ten-cents for a double. As the post-war sugar shortage eased, Charlie was able to produce more ice cream and eventually open additional shops in Saratoga Springs, South Glens Falls, and Latham. Charles S. (Charlie), right, joins his father and uncle
Phyllis Dake, Charlie’s wife, introduces the “Make Your Own Sundae,” which becomes a trademark of Stewart’s. Stewart’s also joins with area T.V. stations to sponsor popular shows like “Hopalong Cassidy” and “Whirlybird,” a show starring a helicopter, while advertising their ice cream to a broad audience.
Charles V., Percy, and Charlie move all operations of Stewart’s Ice Cream to the big barn on Route 9N in Greenfield Center, where it remains today. Paul “Perky” Robinson is placed in charge of the ice cream plant, which leaves Charlie free to concentrate on sales and opening new shops. Schuylerville Shop 1946
Stewart’s sues the NYS Department of Agriculture for permission to sell their milk at all their shops. Stewart’s is not only granted their request, but also is permitted to sell to area supermarkets causing an immediate drop in regional milk prices and giving Stewart’s a large market share overnight. Stewart’s Dairy on Church Ave
Charlie brings his younger brother, William P. Dake (Bill), a recent Cornell engineering graduate, into the business, thus creating another generation of Dake brothers running the family business. Bill’s engineering knowledge increases the dairy’s profitability in just one year. Two generations of Dake Brothers. From left: Charles S. (Charlie) , Percy W., Charles V., and William P. (Bill)
Stewart’s Shops expands to sixty-five locations under the supervision of brothers Charlie and Bill Dake. These shops operate under three divisions: Stewart’s Ice Cream Shops, Stewart’s Soup ‘N Sandwich Shops, and Stewart’s Bread ‘N Butter Shops. The combined sales of the Dake Enterprises exceed $20,000,000 this year and grow at an annual rate of nearly 30%. The combined success of these three divisions evolve into the concept of the general convenience store, which is what Stewart’s Shops offers today. Charlie (left) and Bill (right)
Philly Dake establishes the “Make Your Own Scholarship” Program to provide college scholarships for immediate family members of employees. The program is still in existence today and has provided over $3 million in scholarships to date. The first group of students to be awarded scholarships through the “Make Your Own” Program.