After one year in business the owner of Yollipop in Ahwatukee Foothills says it's not just the name of his shop that has brought smiles to the faces of visitors. It's the 16 flavors of self-serve yogurt with multiple non-dairy and sugar-free choices, create-your-own smoothies, Boba drinks and espresso drinks that have kept customers coming back.
In fact, the shop has been so successful it recently opened another location in Chandler at Alma School and Queen Creek roads to better serve customers coming from Casa Grande weekly.
"We have so much variety," said Duc Nguyen, owner of Yollipop. "We make our own flavors of yogurt, but we also do more than yogurt. We do Boba tea and a full espresso bar, and we're launching homemade cupcakes in the next month or so. It's really a full dessert shop."
Nguyen got involved with self-serve yogurt about four years ago. At the time he was in a real estate and a friend called from California looking for a place to open a yogurt franchise.
"Every ideal location I called they told me a yogurt shop was going in there," Nguyen said. "My friend told me it was a really good business and I should check it out, so I went to his shop in California to check it out. I knew about places like Pink Berry, but I'd never heard of self-serve. When I got there I really liked the concept and the product. He said since he's in California and I'm in Arizona, we should partner up."
Nguyen found a location that was an existing yogurt shop near the University of Arizona campus in Tucson. He and his partner opened a franchise in that location and he was able to learn all about how to make quality yogurt. Once he learned, all he needed to do was open a self-serve yogurt shop of his own.
"I had to wait for the summer before we could close down and remodel," Nguyen said. "Before I could do that we had someone come in and offer to buy me out for four or five times the amount we paid for it. We got out of it and then I used that money to open up my own shop in Phoenix."
Nguyen has been involved in Yollipop from the ground up. He came up with the name late one night when a Dell laptop commercial came on that used the song "Lollipop" by the Chordettes.
"I thought there's no way you can say lollipop without a smile," Nguyen said. "As soon as that name comes up it's just colorful. I couldn't use the name lollipop, and it's more about candy anyways, so I came up with Yollipop. It makes me happy saying it, and it'll bring back childhood memories for all of us ... Once you hear the name Yollipop you're not going to forget it."
Nguyen hopes to open one or two shops a year and continue growing in the Valley. Eventually, he'd like to offer franchises. It's a business he says is just fun to get involved in.
"I did real estate and software in the past," Nguyen said. "People have to have those products but with yogurt, no one comes in here angry. People generally come in happy so we just have to keep them that way. It's a want versus a need so it's just a positive place to be. How can you not smile seeing a little kid jump around, excited about their yogurt?"
For more information on Yollipop, 3961 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 100, visit www.yollipop.net.
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