WASILLA - You could be forgiven if, upon walking into Beary Cool Yogurt, you assumed the decorations and furniture indicate marketing help from a national restaurant chain.
But Beary Cool Yogurt in the Wasilla Carrs Mall is all-local, a monument, really, to what one creative family can accomplish.
Owner Audrey Morlock said she did the decoration herself, but she had a lot of help.
Her brother-in-law took the photos of fruit and yogurt and smiling, happy children she had printed on canvas to hang on the walls. Those children in the photos are her kids, or her nieces and nephews.
Her father built the booth that lines one wall. Someone else is running the Facebook marketing side of the business, with discounts timed to holidays both well-known - Groundhog Day - and less so - Praise Your Postal Worker Day - drawn from a calendar her sister has.
The family built its own chalkboard using plywood, chalkboard paint and pink duct tape for the border. Her five daughters each picked out a color to use to paint the walls.
"I love my pink wall," Morlock says of the brightly colored curved wall that houses the self-serve yogurt machines. "Mostly, yogurt shops are all lime green and brown for some reason."
Everything just came together, despite what Morlock said has been a tough year for her family. The yogurt shop began with money she received when her husband passed away.
"I always wanted to open a business, I just didn't know what," she said.
She settled on yogurt and two days later started the ball rolling. Two weeks later Beary Cool was open for business. Morlock maintains a full-time job in addition to the shop. Her teenaged daughters staff it when she's not there.
While there are certainly ice cream shops in the Valley, Morlock said she knows of no frozen yogurt shop and no other outlet for her supplier, all-natural Honey Hill Farms.
Beary Cool operates on a self-serve, pay-by-the-ounce model. Toppings, from Oreos to candy bars to breakfast cereal and fresh fruit line a half-wall in front of the cash register.
Morlock said the cornucopia on offer sometimes leads to children with big bowls of sugary sweets. She said she tries to gently warn those kids that a big bowl of candy might not taste as good as it looks.
She said she cuts up fruit every day and makes fresh waffles for the waffle bowls. Flavors of yogurt are on offer for four to six days. On Saturday, those offerings included root beer, Valencia orange sorbet, New Orleans praline and double chocolate, among others.
Open since Halloween, Morlock was quick to point out things she still needs to get. She could use a trough to catch errant toppings and various mishaps in shipping mean that some of her countertops have yet to arrive.
Running a business has been a learning experience.
"It's turning out to be good and I'm liking it," Morlock said, before amending that statement. "I'm absolutely loving it."
Contact reporter Andrew Wellner at Andrew.firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-2270.