Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Joey Mason and his wife Amanda moved to Roswell for his career. They like it so much they’re settling in for the long haul.
“I’d always wanted to be a cop,” Joey said. “Ever since I was a little kid, I’d had friends that were cops. They made sure I didn’t get in too much trouble. I was an auxiliary police officer in Michigan for seven and a half years. I had a friend that had come down here. Michigan had a ton of unemployed officers because the economy had taken such a downturn. I tested and I passed. We sold our house and moved here.”
Amanda was able to bring her career with her.
“I work for a real estate boutique law firm in Michigan,” she said. “I’d worked for them about three and a half to four years before we moved. I had asked my bosses before I left if they would let me stay on. They said we could give it a try. In March, I’ll have been with the firm nine years.”
They found that Roswell was not set up the way they were accustomed to, and the difference appealed to them.
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“Roswell is a unique city,” Joey said. “You have all aspects of economic, educational and cultural differences in every neighborhood. In Michigan, it goes by city.”
“In Michigan,” Amanda said, “If you tell me a city, I can tell you what homes are selling there for. I can tell you generally what people are making there, what kind of lifestyle they have. Here it varies from house to house and from street to street.”
Two years ago, Amanda’s mother moved here. They’re hoping to bring other family members to Roswell permanently, as well. In the meantime, they’re investing in Roswell in the most literal sense. Joey and Amanda Mason decided to become entrepreneurs.
“We knew that Roswell needed an ice cream shop downtown,” Amanda said. “We looked at renting versus buying. We thought if we made a success of it and the landlord said, ‘You’re so successful I’m tripling your rent,’ that wouldn’t be good.”
A friend told them about the Fisk Building, on the southeast corner of Fourth and Main streets. They loved the idea of it, but there was a lot to do first.
“We started in January of 2017 looking at the building,” Amanda said. “We spent six months doing our due diligence. We brought in a structural engineer, an electrician, a plumber and other contractors at our own expense before we made an offer.”
Because Joey worked for the city and they were purchasing the building from the city, the Mason’s wanted to be careful to stay above suspicion. It turned out that the legal process of purchasing a building from the city was already set up to keep everyone accountable.
“We didn’t know what the purchase process was going to be when we made our offer in June of 2017,” Amanda said. “It wasn’t as simple as making an offer and seeing where it goes. There are state guidelines. They opened a Request For Proposal. They advertised it in the newspaper and sent it out by email to anybody on the city’s email list.
“People had 30 days to respond. We responded. It was a 23-page package. They have a 100-point scoring system. We scored 97 out of 100. We were on point with what was required and the city’s vision. They wanted to know how we were going to work with the community. I think that an ice cream shop is going to really help downtown traffic.”
Renovations on the century-old building have been completed on the second floor, where they rent office space. The first floor requires a greater attention to detail. They’re taking more time with it.
“It was important to us to preserve as much as we could,” Amanda said. “There’s crown molding that will never be seen that we kept in place.”
Chunks of crown molding had gone missing, over the years. They found local friends who were glad to help them.
“Our friends at Out of this World Taxidermy — “ Amanda said, “Phil and Francine go to Cross-city Cross-fit, where we go, and we were talking about the missing crown molding. They said they could replicate it and they did.”
Seeing how the city works from a developing business’ point of view made them appreciate Roswell even more.
“A lot of people criticize the city,” Amanda said. “We were able to see city employees and others who have a lot of passion for Roswell. They want it to grow. Bill Morris of Planning and Zoning really did his job representing the government to us and us to the city.”
“Bill has a history with this and he loves the city,” Joey said. “Miller Butts and Matt Miller are tough inspectors. But the rules are the rules.”
Both Joey and Amanda have done what they could to meet and exceed code requirements. The inspection results have confirmed that they’re doing it right. Having moved to Roswell not knowing what to expect, they’ve made the best they could of it, and their best looks good for them and for Roswell.
“I came to Roswell sight unseen,” Amanda said. “I just packed up the dogs and what was left of my belongings and drove in with my mom. Like any other town, this town is what you make of it. I see people on social media complaining that there’s nothing to do here. I disagree. There’s something to do every day of the week for everyone.”
They plan to make their ice cream empire a well-loved part of Roswell’s culture. They have exciting ideas for the Fisk Building. They have a vision for the long haul.
“Joey’s on a retirement plan,” Amanda said. “My mom plans on staying here through the end of her retirement. We’re hoping that my brother will move here. We eventually want to turn the upstairs into lofts. I think that would make a difference. We plan on being here for the duration.”
The Masons have brought their lives to Roswell along with their memories. They hope to have their ice cream shop open in January and it will be named after Amanda’s grandparents, Sippy and Opal. Both Joey and Amanda get a bit emotional speaking about them.
“This is an homage to family,” Joey said. “We both lost our grandparents and my dad. Amanda’s grandparents were some of the best people in my life. They taught us a lot about hard work and about treating people right. We want people to do more than come back — we want them to come home.”
By Curtis Michaels
Roswell Daily Record