Drayton MacDonald knew he was no ordinary kid, and he liked it.
“I guess you could say, I’m a businessman, ma’am,” the 12-year-old told NPR politely.
And he has been for several years.
When he was 9, he said, his father, Dominic MacDonald, gave him a piece of advice: “My father gave me a choice between selling doughnuts or ice cream cones, and I didn’t want to sell doughnuts. ,” he explained.
With this, MacDonald Sr. went and bought his son a 14 x 8 foot trailer that had been converted into a mobile ice cream cone shop called Ice Ice Dreyton. Over the weekend, the trailer is set up at parks and special events in Ocala, Florida, where Drayton lives with his dad.
“I drive, I set the generator, but in reality, he’s the one calling the shots. He does everything else,” MacDonald said.
That means Drayton isn’t just in charge of making the cones, he’s also in charge of choosing which flavors to offer—Dreamsicle and Marshmallow are his favorites—to attract customers and handle all the money.
When asked what his favorite job is, Dreyton said: “Making sure customers are happy with their ice cream cones and happy with what they’re paying for.”
For his father, who runs a massage therapy business, part of the inspiration for the ice cream cone shop was to help Drayton feel a connection to Ocala, which he moved to after MacDonald took full custody of him. But it is also out of necessity.
“I’m a single dad,” MacDonald said. “It’s sad…I want him to know that he has to contribute too.”
It helps that he also keeps his son busy in a constructive way.
“I wanted something to keep him and his peers out of trouble,” MacDonald said. “It’s a way for them to make money so they can buy themselves things they need or want, like school uniforms, toys or games, shoes, etc. And if I can help him and his peers do that One point, that means I’m helping other families, and that’s what I’m here for.”
Drayton said he likes being in charge and having his friends work with him.
“I think I’m a good boss,” he said after thinking about it, before adding, “That’s what my friends say.”
He also likes the independence of it all.
“It’s nice to know that I have my own money, that I can buy what I want, and that my dad is saving for me,” he said, in one of his more talkative moments.
MacDonald spends most of the profits on Drayton’s college tuition or new businesses he might want to pursue in the future. He added that there are thousands of dollars in the bank so far, and there will be more when the current 7th graders graduate from high school.
That’s not to say McDonald’s doesn’t allow his son the occasional indulgence.
Drayton recently splurges on a new school wardrobe and a coveted pair of Nike Air Jordans.
“They’re $150!” Drayton said gleefully. It was the most expensive purchase he had ever made.
Drayton would do more if he could, he said. But because of school work and basketball practice, he’s limited to weekends and rare school night specials, where he can throw “snow cones that make people happy.”
He said he must have discovered the flaws in entrepreneurship from his father. The pair are now talking about opening a store someday, which his father would run during the day and take over at night. He hopes to one day surpass shaved ice.
“I’m studying cooking at school this year, so maybe I’ll learn some recipes and I can start selling food too,” he said.