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After being forced to move, the family-run ice cream shop in Laurel faces an uncertain future



Billings, Montana – Town Pump is driving a family-owned Laurel company out of its location.

For the first seventeen years of its 20-year existence, MoCones was housed in a Town Pump parking lot. However, the gas station is revamping, and it may take months for the stand to move during that time.

“I’m fairly confident that Town Pump will allow us to put it back,” said Mo Henman, the co-owner of MoCones, on Thursday. “But at this point, we’re looking at probably missing next season.”

Every year on Mother’s Day, the ice cream shop opens and shuts on Labor Day.

Mo Henman is the one who gave MoCones its name. ‘Big Mo’s Rock n Roll Show,’ which he presents before the July 4th Laurel Fireworks Show, has earned him a lot of recognition in the community.

“The name of this place came from our daughters basically,” said Henman. “My daughter said, ‘Why don’t we just call it MoCones? Everybody knows you.’ I fought against that. I had other names but I lost.”

But MoCones could be no-mo.

“There’s a lot of people that are going to be upset,” Henman said. “It will be a shock.”

The company has been established for 17 years and is situated at 704 First Avenue, across from Laurel Schools, in the Town Pump parking lot. It had spent the previous three years on South First Avenue, close to the railroad overpass.

“We started out with our own children working here and now we have grandchildren working here,” Mary Henman, Mo’s wife and co-owner of MoCones, said on Thursday.

Town Pump intends to renovate, meaning that the ice cream counter would have to relocate.

“They’re adding on to this building. So with the construction and the equipment, I need to move it out of the way during construction,” Mo said. “Problem is, construction’s going to take up to nine months. So there wouldn’t be any MoCones next summer.”

It reads in part, “During the construction project, contractors will need to rebuild a portion of the parking lot…With the construction activity, there would not be space for an ice cream stand…Town Pump has spoken with Mr. Henman about potentially returning to the site in 2025 after construction is complete.”

It goes on to say that Town Pump is hoping that MoCones will locate another location in Laurel as a result of this study.

Nonetheless, the Henmans claim to be content in their nearly 18-year-old home.

“This is a great spot right here with the boulevard and all the trees. People are so used to it here,” Mo said. “There could be a better spot somewhere in town, but I haven’t found it yet.”

The Henmans claim that while they are concerned about the effects on the neighborhood, they are not concerned about the financial effects on themselves of missing a season.

“We sponsor baseball and church groups. Camps. Football camps and baseball camps,” Mary said. “A lot of our money goes right back into the community, so with us being closed for a season, we’re not going to be able to do that.”

Teenagers from the neighborhood make up the bulk of the workforce.

“We’ve always been blessed with a lot of young people that want to work here,” Mo said.

The stand’s summertime delicacies would not be available to customers.

“We open on Mother’s Day. There’s only one story that sticks out in my mind and it was from a school teacher. She goes, ‘Now children, remember this weekend is a very important day.’ And of course, she’s thinking Mother’s Day,” Mary said. “One little kid raised his hand and goes, ‘Yes, MoCones opens!’ And that’s just stuck with me for years, how important it is.”

The Henmans take solace in the knowledge of how dearly they would be missed even as they keep looking for alternatives.

“We wouldn’t say no (to a new location), we’ll definitely consider it. It’s very humbling, the offers we’ve already received and the people that have blown up the Facebook page,” Mo said. “It does make you feel good and proud of your community.”

Mary said it has been eye-opening to see how the community has responded to the news of MoCones’ possible closure.

“Most people don’t want us to be gone for the season. It’s been extremely humbling with people asking if they could help and that type of thing,” Mary said.

For many years to come, Mo and Mary hope to be able to serve their clients.

“If we talk too much we’ll get a little emotional about it,” Mo said. “It means a lot. It’s very humbling.”


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