While it takes all kinds, most of us can agree that few treats are as perfectly enjoyable as the taste of ice cream. That goes double if you’re a parent looking for a place to relax that will delight your child. For Pam Geiger ’03 and her business partner, Erin O’Keefe, that revelation gave them a new mission: creating White Plains’ number one local ice cream spot, Ice Cream Social.
“Erin and I both grew up in White Plains, left to live our lives, and then came back with small children in tow,” said Geiger. “We realized upon our return that there was no longer a place to get ice cream, outside of a mall. I just wanted a place where I could go with my kids, maybe meet up with friends, and not spend a fortune.”
However, Ice Cream Social did not spring fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus, from that stray thought. It was only idle chatter between the duo at the beginning. As it did for so many, though, COVID changed their perspectives. Suddenly, chasing a goal didn’t feel like something worth delaying. Then, the final catalyst fell into place.
“This space became available to rent, and we knew it was a sign,” she recalled. “It was a historic, hundred-year-old, adorable brick building. Formerly a gas station with outdoor space, parking and a big old-style gas station sign, it was just asking for something cute. So we made it cute!”
And cute Ice Cream Social is. Mixing pastels and bright whites, the store is eye-catching without being overwhelming. It captures the sense of a classic corner ice cream shop without feeling out of date or stale. That sense of playful timelessness extends to the Social’s merchandise, which allows patrons to bring more than just a pint home when they visit.
For Geiger, who confesses to not having an especially large sweet tooth, the shop’s biggest purpose isn’t necessarily the frozen dairy treats, delicious though they may be, or the ringer tees; it’s connecting with and further building community. It is a lesson that she drew from her time at Connecticut College.
“The Conn College community was and remains important to me. I run into people from Conn often and recognize it because we all knew each other—or at least recognized each other’s faces. I don’t think that’s the case for bigger schools. It’s helped me understand community and that being a part of one was exciting,” she said.
“I love being a part of the White Plains community,” continued Geiger. “We had incredible support [for the Social] from our friends, families and the White Plains community at large. Within its first month, it took on a life of its own. It brings such happiness to people, and I love seeing it be used for just what we wanted—a gathering place that brings joy.”
The community’s response has, in turn, inspired Geiger and O’Keefe to expand beyond ice cream.
“Erin and I want to enhance White Plains with locally owned small businesses—help the city feel a bit smaller and have all that anyone could want,” explained Geiger. “We are currently working on Coffee Social, a new venture we are looking to open at the end of the year. Not only will it be a place to get coffee, but we have designed it to live up to the ‘Social’ name. In the afternoons and evenings, Coffee Social will be available as a space for groups to gather—meetings, classes, birthday parties, even small group entertainment like open mic.”
In this endeavor, as well, Geiger’s Conn-ections have come in handy. “My Conn friends have been extremely supportive. Jen Warren ’04 even helped us talk through and figure out some funding for Coffee Social.”
While jumping into this new endeavor has been a lot, especially while maintaining her full-time job in fundraising, Geiger feels more than confident she and O’Keefe are up to the task.
“Conn allowed me to follow my passions while I was there, for everything from piano lessons to creating an exhibition in the library, and taught me that I can balance responsibility and ambition,” she said. “It gave me the courage to do something similar in my life now.”