The Rocky Road to Owning a Business
By Jan Morgan-Swegle
No matter how old we are, there are sounds from our childhood that still bring a smile to our faces. The school bell ringing to tell us it was time to go home, fireworks on the 4th of July and children on our front porches yelling “trick or treat” are but a few. But my favorite was the sound of the bells on the ice cream truck. I knew that sound meant chocolate ice cream on a stick and there was nothing better in the summertime.
Times have changed. School bells still ring, we still enjoy fireworks and kids still trick-or-treat, but where are the ice cream trucks? Where is the cold chill from the dry ice on the truck? And where are all of those wonderful flavors? Where are the good old days?
Well, here in Leland, you can remember those good old days at the Fuzzy Peach, located at 1109 New Pointe Blvd, #4 (facing U.S. 17, near the shops at Westgate.)
The Fuzzy Peach is a frozen yogurt bar owned by Alice Morgan and her fiancée, Ken Staunches. But as soon as you walk in, you realize it’s more than that. It’s a fun place that’s clean and bright. As a new patron, Alice gave me a tour. “You can start out at the yogurt stations and pick your flavor, but the more seasoned connoisseurs start with the toppings,” she explained. There in front of me were 40-plus different toppings — and I was expecting just chocolate sauce! Plump, fresh strawberries, blueberries, chocolate chip cookie dough, cherries, sprinkles, candy “chocolate rocks,” whipped cream, chocolate covered raisins, wet nuts, chocolate covered pretzels, M&M’s and Oreo cookies were just a few items that sat behind the glass waiting to adorn the yogurt. Next to that were hot fudge, caramel and chocolate sauce. The options seemed endless. “During the weekend, it’s fun to watch the little kids come in,” Ken said. “They see the toppings and get all excited. They want everything on their yogurt.”
Alice and Ken offer four basic frozen yogurt flavors — Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry and Peach, with other flavors changing on a weekly basis. This week, I could have selected Cookies ‘n Cream, Cupcake, or Cake Batter Delight, to name a few. Fresh fruit is put out every day. They also have “no sugar” yogurt and sorbet for those with diet restrictions.
Customer Service is very important to Alice and Ken. “We listen to our customers,” Alice said. “We listen so we know what they want. We know that parents want their children to be in a clean, safe environment, and that’s what we provide.” That was certainly evident—the tables were all clear and clean, the floor was immaculate and the topping area was sparkling. A small, child-friendly area sits in the front of the store with a large “Connect 4” game, and white rocking chairs keep the beat of the wind outside.
While today Alice and Ken are starting to enjoy the results of their hard work, opening the store was a bit of an adventurous journey.
Coming from the Lake Placid, New York area, Alice and Ken were drawn to the serenity of the South. But, like most of us, they were affected by COVID. Looking at houses for retirement sale down here meant that as essential workers in New York, when they returned, they had to isolate for two weeks before going back to work. Very soon, their vacation and sick time was used up. They ended up buying a house in Calabash from New York, sight unseen. When they finally had a chance to actually see their new house, they decided while they were here they would look for a business to buy so there would be no more of this travel quarantine going back and forth. They found The Fuzzy Peach and went back to New York to give their resignation notices.
Alice and Ken bought the Fuzzy Peach franchise and closed on it on April 30, 2021. The previous owners had agreed to help run the business until Alice and Ken could physically move down (approximately one month). On May 2, they were notified that there was a fire in their Fuzzy Peach location. Looking back, Alice said, “it was really good that the store was open on a Sunday, or the entire wing of the strip mall would probably have burned down.”
But, getting the fire damage repaired didn’t mean it was smooth sailing for the couple. They were further delayed by the building inspector not approving the building revisions done during the fire repairs, meaning that the Fuzzy Peach remained closed.
Finally, on June 3, they reopened, only to be hit with refrigeration problems that shut them down for another week.
“I don’t think people realize that opening up a business is hard work,” Alice said. “You are responsible for every aspect of the business and have to stay relevant. The Fuzzy Peach opened up at the height of the frozen yogurt craze. Yogurt is so much healthier than ice cream. And, we don’t have a lot of competition in this area, so we are really happy to be in Leland.”
Alice and Ken employ high school students on the weekends and during the evening shifts. “It’s a really great first job,” Alice continued. “We teach them customer service skills, how to run the yogurt machines and keep them stocked, we stress the importance of keeping everything clean, and we try to instill a strong work ethic in them so they are prepared when they get into the working world full time. Ken is a great mentor to our
staff. Sometimes it’s hard to get them focused on the details that take us to the next level, but they’re learning.”
In addition to great selections and good prices, Alice and Ken offer a loyalty program with a discount after a certain number of purchases, senior discounts on Monday, and gift certificates with no expiration dates. They also cater birthday parties, pool parties at the housing development nearby, block parties, fundraisers and other community events. You can also call Grub Hub and have your frozen yogurt delivered right to you.
So here we are ready to welcome the warm summer months. After you spend time at the beach making sand castles, go to the Fuzzy Peach in Leland and build yourself a really tall and refreshing frozen yogurt castle.Try your favorite flavor or blend two flavors and see what you come up with. Decorate your castle with big, red cherries and surround it with a moat of hot fudge. The Fuzzy Peach satisfies your sweet tooth and brings out your creative side.
Stop by and support Alice and Ken and indulge yourself, and sign up for the loyalty program because you can’t just have one frozen yogurt!