Teen's business makes summer a little tastier

Tyler Hamman has learned a lot as owner and founder of Ty's Treats, including the fact that his young customers prefer their SpongeBob ice cream treats with gumball eyes rather than chocolate ones.

"When they replaced the gumballs with chocolate, kids started buying them less," said Hamman, who opened Ty's Treats at the Hinsdale Community Pool this summer.

Hamman got his first job working behind the front desk of the pool when he was 15. The next year, he worked for Sauced Pizzeria, which ran the pool's concession stand. When Sauced shut down, Hamman lost his job, but he found an opportunity not only to keep the service going for customers of the pool but to be his own boss at age 17.

"It was something that I'm semi-experienced in," Hamman said.

He approached the village with the idea of taking over the concession business and was granted the contract.

Hamman spends nearly every day serving up hot dogs, pretzels, sweet treats and his personal favorite, shaved ice, to pool guests. The latter is an item he added to the existing concessions menu.

"We pile it high," he said. "It's the specialty of Ty's Treats."

Hamman got a taste of entrepreneurship last summer, when he ran a small concession stand at Falcon youth football games.

"I made a lot of money off of that," said Hamman, who put that money, along with a small loan from his dad, into the equipment needed to launch Ty's Treats. The pool provided a microwave and a hot dog machine, and he purchased the machines to make nacho cheese and shaved ice.

Hamman said one of the toughest parts of his job is trying to match inventory to the needs and wants of his customers. What's popular one week isn't always popular the next. Hot weather typically brings more drink sales and fewer sales of things like chips and nachos, so he also tries to track and anticipate weather when ordering food.

"We're such a weather-dependent business," he said.

Of course, he can't be at the pool every minute of the summer, so he relies on his brother and some friends to help, calling them the "lifeline" of the business.

Although he's lived in Hinsdale much of his life, Hamman said he feels more a part of the community since opening his business. As a kid, Hamman said, he remembers making plans with friends to meet up at one place or another in the village.

"Now, I could be that place," Hamman said.

Along with good customer service, Ty's Treats gives back to the community by donating a portion of every sale to HCS Family Services.

"I'm just doing my part," Hamman said.

The Hinsdale pool and Ty's Treats will close just before the start of the new school year, which will be Hamman's last at Hinsdale Central High School. But before heading off to college to study stage acting or possibly entrepreneurship, Hamman said he hasn't ruled out the possibility of expanding the business to serve pools in neighboring towns next summer.

Hamman said the best part of his job is hearing people talk about how much they enjoy it, and knowing that he's made summer just a little better for his neighbors and friends, old and new.

- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean