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Know Your City: This Chennai shop has been selling ice cream for Rs 2 for over two decades

Vinu’s Igloo, an ice cream shop founded in 1995 by S Vijayan, is a popular store located near Five Lights in the sleepy neighbourhood of West Mambalam.

Chennai igloo, two rupee icecream shopAfter running for 13 years, the shop closed in 2008 due to labour issues. However, it was reopened this February much to the joy of children and other local residents. (Express photo)

A wise man once said, “Change is the only constant in life”, which holds true in several situations. However, a shop in Chennai has proved it is not always the case.

Vinu’s Igloo, an ice cream shop founded in 1995 by S Vijayan, is a popular store located near Five Lights in the sleepy neighbourhood of West Mambalam. Ask any auto-rickshaw anna or a flower-selling akka about the rendu rooba ice cream kadai (Rs 2 ice cream shop) and they will point you to the place.

And outside the shop, you will find a beeline of school children, college students, and other people waiting for their ice cream.

After running for 13 years, the shop closed in 2008 due to labour issues. However, it was reopened this February much to the joy of children and other local residents. V Vinoth, the owner of the shop, says he opened the ice cream shop again based on the suggestion of his 17-year-old-son.

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Life comes to a full circle

Vinoth is the youngest of six siblings. His father S Vijayan, who owned a wholesale rice shop, thought of opening an ice cream store as he was very fond of cone ice creams sold in theatres.

Owner of the ice cream shop Vinoth. (Express photo)

“Milkyway was quite popular at that period. It was expanding its business in Chennai. So, my father brought an Italian ice cream vending machine and started the sales. He was very clear from the beginning that he won’t be selling these ice creams for a higher rate and it should reach people even in the lowest circles of the economy. He often used to say that selling a product to 100 people at Rs 1 is always a winner rather than selling it to just one person at Rs 100 as he believed that the latter might choose a better shop someday but at least 90 of those 100 people will keep coming to the shop,” says Vinoth.

“To make a future for me, my father handed over this ice cream shop business when I was 16 years old. Now, my son Anirudh Vijayan, who is doing his Class 11 and is brilliant at multitasking, is taking care of the accounts of the shop. My father gave the shop to me and I am now handing it over to my son,” he adds.


Many people say that they used to come to Vinu’s Igloo when they were young and now they bring their children for ice creams to the shop.

“I come very often to this place because of my daughter. It takes me back to the days when I was very young. I remember my dad used to bring me here. I have brought my niece and nephew here and now I am bringing my daughter,” Leelavathi tells “I can’t find a Rs 2 coin in my wallet anymore but here they sell ice cream for Rs 2. It feels great. I have seen children, and even old couples, visit this spot often. This is great for the kind of money you are paying,” she adds.

(Express photo)

‘They looked down upon us’


The owner of the shop, which has an LED screen playing videos of vloggers who have been coming to the place and interviewing him and the workers, says that it took them four years to gain a steady crowd and it happened organically through word of mouth.

“We didn’t have technology like we have today. It took us four years to earn regular customers. When we started, many of the other ice cream shops looked down upon us. They were not sure how a quality product can be sold for just Rs 2. When I spoke to a couple of them and explained our business model, they were not convinced. They even thought selling ice cream for a cheap price was like lowering their standards,” says Vinoth.

According to the workers, the shop has about 15 varieties of cone ice cream alone, each of them starting from Rs 2 to Rs 25. They sell pal kova with ice cream, gulab jamun ice cream, jelly with ice cream, cake with ice cream, Oreo with ice cream, and banana/mango fruits with ice cream among others.

“I am offering what the public usually wishes to eat. For example, if I go to a marriage or any function, I will wish to eat a gulab jamun and ice cream so we thought why not make a fusion of them and started to provide them. Strawberry, mango, pista and vanilla are the four main flavours in our shop as it is liked by children and others,” says Vinoth.

Younsters gather outside the shop for ice cream. (Express photo)

‘Pulls people’


Vinoth says that after restarting the business this year, they thought of increasing the base price to Rs 8 after a few weeks. But the response they got for the Rs 2 ice cream made them rethink.

“School children may have Rs 2 or Rs 5 in their pocket and they will use that to buy ice cream. If I increase the price they will be disappointed. They feel happy to eat this ice cream and they will later bring their other friends and family to this shop. I am not earning a huge profit with Rs 2 ice cream but it pulls customers—we have customers from the age of 7 to 70,” he says.


Vinoth adds that he never compromises on the quality. “Nobody wants to buy an item just because it is cheap. All our products are prepared in pure milk and we do not mix water. My product quality will be on par with those sold outside at Rs 50 or Rs 60,” he says.

“People are curious to check how a shop can sell ice cream for Rs 2 in this current period. I have had customers from other places like Puducherry and even overseas like Sri Lanka. They are surprised and intrigued at how we have been able to do this for all these years. People come for Rs 2 ice cream and end up purchasing our other ice cream varieties. Nobody settles for one Rs 2 cone ice cream so that’s how the business has been happening,” he adds.


Close to 3,000 people visit his shop daily, says Vinoth. He also notes that he had just one worker for the ice cream shop and now eight people work for him.

Future plans

Vinoth has also started selling tea at Rs 2 per cup and says his customers have given good feedback. They have been selling tea for Rs 8 and Rs 10 in larger cups than what is offered in other places, he says.

“I am thinking of expanding this as a franchise to improve my brand. We are in talks with a few people. I aim to set up this ice cream shop in other states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra. I am confident that this will happen within the next year,” he says.

After a scoop of ice cream and a cup of tea to treat our taste buds, we bid adieu to the rendu rooba ice cream kadai promising to return soon.

First published on: 19-07-2022 at 12:11 IST
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