The chilly world of Froyo

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Posted Sun, Apr 14, 2013

A peek at Chill Yogurt's breakfast and toppings menu. Photo by S.L. Alderton

CHILL OUT: A peek at Chill Yogurt’s breakfast and toppings menu. [Photo by S.L. Alderton]

AURORA, Colo. — They’re everywhere–in low-class suburbs and high-class malls, catering to high school students, seniors and families alike. Over the past few years, frozen yogurt shops have become almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks in the Denver area. Some belong to national franchises such as Yogurtland and Menchie’s, but many others are small businesses, comprised of just one or two shops with a single owner. These shops can come and go quickly, as the flooded market makes it difficult for them to compete. Two small shops, however, Chill Yogurt and Fro Yo Spot, are finding ways to set themselves apart from their competitors.

”You know, we try to be really different, but when you come down to it, yogurt is yogurt,” says Jan Villaruz, owner of the Fro Yo Spot in Aurora. “What it really does come down to is the customer service and the cleanliness.”

Both Villaruz’s store and Chill Yogurt, owned by Rose Mitchell, have been in business for a year. At least two other yogurt shops opened that same year within a mile, and those two had closed down by 2013.

Mitchell and her husband bought the Chill Yogurt building from another shop that closed down. She attributes its success to a wider variety of toppings than other stores have, homemade breakfast burritos, and especially the yogurt itself, which is only 8-calories per ounce and is mixed in the back of the store. Mitchell and her family advertise the eight-calorie yogurt all over the store and its website.

“That’s about the only thing we have going for us, as opposed to [other stores],” she says.

It’s enough to keep business steady, though Mitchell’s husband has returned to his old Fed Ex job, and she herself has another job on the side.

Jan Villaruz, on the other hand, works full-time, to even out the costs of her Fro Yo Spot shop. Winter is a difficult time for all frozen yogurt shops, but business at Fro Yo Spot is blooming this spring, partly because so many other shops have closed.
“You have to work really hard,” she says. “We keep a clean shop, and try to keep everything as fresh as possible.”

An employee behind the counter at Fro Yo Spot Aurora. Picture from aurora.froyospot.com

An employee behind the counter at Fro Yo Spot Aurora. Picture from aurora.froyospot.com

Customer service is a main focus at Villaruz’s store. Fro Yo Spot offers discounts to students, police officers, firefighters, military, seniors and, sometimes, people who are just having a hard day. Villaruz gets involved with organizations like the Ronald McDonald House and Save Our Youth, and is always looking for more ways to reach out to the community. She says she wants her store to be “like a little ministry.”

One thing Chill Yogurt and Fro Yo Spot have in common is that they are both run by families. Mitchell and Villaruz’s husbands both help them with their stores. Mitchell’s sons design the shop’s website, and a friend of Villaruz’s daughter designed the Froyo Spot logo. Her daughter is also the franchisor of her store. Perhaps this, too, helps separate the two shops from nearby chain stores like Yogurtland.

“It’s all a team effort,” Villaruz says.

Where are they?

Chill Yogurt – located at 2275 S Peoria St, Aurora. Hours: 11-9 Sunday – Thursday, 11-10 Friday and Saturday.

Fro Yo Spot Aurora – located at 17200 E Iliff Ave, Aurora. Hours: 11-10 everyday.

About S.L. Alderton

S.L. Alderton is an MSU Denver student majoring in magazine journalism.

View all posts by S.L. Alderton

One Response to “The chilly world of Froyo”

  1. Stephanie V. Coleman Says:

    Several family-owned frozen yogurt businesses are trending near me as well, so I think this is a good story idea to explore the competition between them. Good reporting.

    Reply

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