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Baskin-Robbins franchising a family affair for the Sharmas

The Sharma family has been involved with Baskin-Robbins since 1990 when Sunny opened his first location in Oakville, Ont. His daughter Sheena (at left) is now a franchisee as well.
The Sharma family has been involved with Baskin-Robbins since 1990 when Sunny opened his first location in Oakville, Ont. His daughter Sheena (at left) is now a franchisee as well.

Sunny Sharma opened his first Baskin-Robbins location in September 1990 at 1011 Upper Middle Rd. East in Oakville, Ont.

After getting a taste of Pralines ’N Cream from the ice cream brand, it was an easy choice. Over the past three decades–plus one year–Sunny has owned, sold, and developed a total of 12 ice cream shops in and around the Mississauga, Milton, and Oakville areas.

Each location has been, for Sunny and his wife, an important part of their family. With its own network of staff, regulars, and neighbours, each shop has etched countless memories on their hearts. This is the world into which their daughter Sheena and son Sunkalp were born.

“Baskin-Robbins is quite literally where I grew up,” said Sheena. “Our first shop is the same age as me. Since I was a little girl, I considered Baskin-Robbins as something that was completely embedded into my life. I was known as the ‘Ice Cream Girl’ at school.

“As a young girl, I would sit behind the counter and make cake boxes for my mom or stock up cones and cups. As I grew up, I started serving our guests. I went to university and earned a degree in business and then completed an MBA,” she added. “Once graduated, I knew I wanted to help take our family business to the next level. I knew I needed to be patient and put in my time to properly learn the business inside out. I had the guidance of my family’s experience and the mentoring of members such as Anna Colacchio from the operations team at Baskin-Robbins Canada.”

The family now owns and operates three locations. Over the years, the family saw Baskin Robbins as a safe investment–both of their time and money. They always had the idea of growing with the brand in their mind. Part of their strategy has been to integrate themselves fully within their respective communities–an effort including local advertising and high-touch, personalized customer service.

“Today, as a second-generation Baskin-Robbins franchisee, we’re honoured to be the longest-running operator in Canada–and growing,” Sheena said. “My parents put their hearts and souls into serving members of our community and representing the brand, even bringing new business owners into the network. When you’ve found something good, like a great ice cream or dessert, you want to share it. We’ve had the chance to expand our business, help to launch new flavours, and meet truly amazing people. These are precious moments we will never take for granted.”

“With the help of Baskin-Robbins, my parents have left our community, my brother and me with something very valuable,” says Sharma. “It’s a business that is part and parcel of our community, and I have every intention of taking this legacy forward proudly into the future. I guess you can say I’ve prepared for this mission my whole life.”

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