Putting that new calendar up on the wall Jan. 1 is always a good feeling: what could be better than a blank slate, all ready to welcome the next chapter of our lives?
Recently, New Paltz Times spoke with some local entrepreneurs about the new chapters they’ve started in their lives by opening new businesses. One was inspired by a good business plan they experienced elsewhere and found a way to make it happen locally. Another fulfilled a creative yen to expand the concept of her existing business and provide something new to the area. Yet another saw a need to be filled and figured out how to do that despite already having a full-time job. Then there are the entrepreneurs who saw a way to turn their popular seasonal business into a growing year-round enterprise.
Yum Yogurt opened its doors for business just four months ago at 215 Main Street in the Medusa building, around the back on the ground floor in the location where Moxie Cupcake used to be before they moved to larger quarters down the street.
Owner Jen Ippolito says that the new business has been in the planning stages for several years, ever since she and her husband, along with their four kids, drove down to Florida and stopped off in Savannah, Georgia, where they happened upon a self-serve yogurt shop.
“Frozen yogurt is ubiquitous in the south, of course,” says Ippolito, “and this store was just beautiful. We love ice cream, but yogurt is much better for you and I thought, ‘this would be a good fit in New Paltz’.”
At the time, however, there was still a TCBY yogurt shop in town and there wasn’t a viable location available to open a new shop. “So we said, ‘let’s just wait and see’,” Ippolito says.
The idea came off the back burner when Moxie Cupcake vacated its space and Ippolito found that she could not only move into the location, but wouldn’t have to deal with getting a special-use permit because the previous tenants had already had food there. “Then TCBY went out and now we’re the only option for yogurt,” says Ippolito.
Visitors to the shop are greeted by wall-mounted spigots that dispense six varieties of fresh self-serve frozen yogurt (the flavors will be rotated frequently) and a toppings bar with at least 60 different choices that range from the expected gummi bears and chocolate kisses to the more unusual: fresh pomegranate seeds, chocolate-covered espresso beans and gluten-free chia kale granola, to name a few. Staff member Danielle Cangelosi says they also offer seasonal topping choices like candy corn and figs (which went well with the pumpkin pie yogurt they had in the fall).
Customers can dispense the yogurt into one of three cup sizes (small sample portions can be tried out first) and then add their toppings of choice, paying for the finished concoction at 55 cents per ounce.
The yogurt dispensers are clearly labeled not only as to flavor (sea salt caramel, espresso and Tahitian vanilla were available on a recent visit), but as to whether they are nonfat, low fat, gluten-free, sugar-free, nut-free, soy-free, egg-free, kosher or even a lactose-free variety, made with sodium caseinate; not a true yogurt, says Ippolito, given that it lacks yogurt’s beneficial bacteria, but a nice option to offer for those who crave the creamy dessert but can’t digest milk products.
Bottled water and hot tea are available.
Yum Yogurt is a one-off business, not a corporate entity or franchise, so the small business owner is free to set her own policies. Ippolito, who has a background in the corporate food world and previously ran another business in New Paltz (she opened the first Cheese Plate shop at Water Street Market 11 years ago, now under new ownership), says that the first year in a small business is a time of experimentation in terms of figuring out what people like and what hours they’ll be open. Now that winter has settled in, they’re closed during the week for the month of January, open on Fridays from 2 to 10 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m. “We’ll play with it a bit,” says Ippolito “and see what happens for February and March. If we get a thaw, we’ll open more days.”
Hours are posted on the shop’s Facebook site, where they also update current yogurt flavors and toppings “the second we change something,” Ippolito says. A website is in the works.
“The community has been really supportive,” Ippolito adds, “right from the beginning. I’m just so happy that people like it and are positive. We’re trying to see what people like and put in different things.”
When an already-successful business opens a new location not far from the first, one wonders if business is so good that the owners are simply expanding or if the new location is about exploring a new facet of the business. With Theresa Colucci’s new location at 10 Church Street in New Paltz, an expansion of her Gardiner-based floral shop, Meadowscent, it’s a little of both.
“We do have a lot of customers in New Paltz who have been asking us, ‘Would you ever think of coming to New Paltz’,” says Colucci. “That’s been going on for years.”
But in addition to bringing Meadowscent closer to some of her customer base, Colucci also saw the opportunity in opening another location to fulfill a dream she’s had for some time, ever since she began traveling to Holland a few years back with her daughters Alana and Celia, who work in the business with her, and with her floral design students from SUNY Cobleskill who took the opportunity to study abroad.
Those trips to Holland inspired Colucci to specialize in European-style hand-tied bouquets at the new location in New Paltz. While a traditional floral arrangement is sold assembled in a vase or container using a special kind of foam to keep the flowers in place, a hand-tied bouquet is just that: still carefully arranged, but it’s tied in the hand, the flowers wrapped with some cord or twine to keep the arrangement together. The stems are left long and then all the customer has to do when they get the flowers home, says Colucci, is to cut the bottoms of the stems down to fit the arrangement into their own vase or container.