Lil’ Ice Cream Dude, Beau Shell, finally opens his own shop, Cool World Ice Cream Shop, in Athens, Georgia on June 9, 2019. Friends and family braved the weather to support and help celebrate not only the grand opening of the shop, but also Shell’s 15th birthday. (Photo/Daniela Rico)

The community around Beau Shell, the 15-year-old owner of Cool World Ice Cream Shop, came together to donate over $3,000, Shell said, after his shop was burglarized on the night of March 22.

“I think it really proves that my shop is a community shop more than just mine sometimes, and I think this shows because my community is here to help me and my shop. They’ve always really had my back, especially in hard times,” Shell said.

An unknown person broke into Shell’s shop on Gaines School Road between about 9:30 p.m. on March 22 and 11:50 a.m. on March 23, according to an Athens-Clarke County Police Department report. The burglar caused approximately $900 of damage to the front door and cash register and stole $100 in cash, along with a bank deposit bag.

The office was ransacked during the burglary, according to the police report.

The tip jar Shell has used since he was 9 years old was taken as well. He asked in an Instagram post that the tip jar be returned with no questions asked.

“I really love that tip jar, and we’ve had it basically since we started back in 2013. I’ve been using it ever since, and it’s really important and it has a lot of sentimental value to me,” Shell said to The Red & Black.

The young entrepreneur began selling ice cream out of his parents’ garage about eight years ago after asking for an ice cream cart for his birthday. Initially, his parents wondered if the business venture was just a passing phase, but seven years later, the business has only expanded.

Shell, who goes by Lil’ Ice Cream Dude, opened his brick-and-mortar shop in June 2019. He has been nominated as a young entrepreneur finalist for the Dream Big Awards program and received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur Achievement Award.

He has received 150 comments offering support and advice on his first post about the break-in on Instagram.

Shell discarded about $2,500 worth of product that “was not secured, locked or in its original packaging” during the break-in, including tubs of ice cream, ice cream cones, toppings and ice cream sandwiches. However, he has made replacements with the donation money.

The shop closed on March 23 after Shell discovered the break-in had occurred but reopened on March 27, offering online orders and curbside deliveries.

Since the donations started coming in, Shell has expressed his gratitude on Instagram and made plans for repairs and to start saving for a security system.

“It really inspires me and makes me really want to make sure I put the money to good use,” Shell said to The Red & Black. “I want to do the best to make sure I can really replace everything that needs to be replaced, especially the ice cream and Italian ice and all the different merchandise, and I can also make sure I can replace anything that was damaged.”

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