By Kelly Newsom | Photos by Killion NewsomI met with Elizabeth Caceres at her Main Street Culture Shock Yogurt shop before it opened one Saturday morning. As I peered into the window I felt an unusual excitement. I could see the clean white subway tiles, bright green walls and then I spotted the glorious givers of yogurt, the stainless steel yogurt machines. They were lined up along the back wall, just waiting for the people of Woodland to pull their levers, likely ready to mock our meager attempt to create the perfect cup of yogurt….okay, I’m going off topic.
When you visit Culture Shock Yogurt you will be greeted by awesome employees, a lively, clean environment and 70 AMAZING toppings. You will also realize you are in charge! You choose the cup size, the flavor of yogurt (four yogurt flavors, one sorbet, and one no sugar added flavor) and then you choose the toppings. The process is fun and you get exactly what you want. There is even a quote on the store board that reads, “As fun to create as it is to consume!”.
Culture Shock Yogurt is the only dessert business open in the evenings on Main Street. Whether you’ve just had lunch or dinner at a local restaurant or came from a show at the Opera House, yogurt is the perfect way to cap your day or evening.
“Culture Shock is a nice compliment. Especially when the Opera house shows get out, it’s a nice treat.” – Elizabeth Caceres
Elizabeth: Culture Shock Woodland is not a franchise. Instead we made a licensing agreement with a woman who owns the brand and three Culture Shock stores, two in Grass Valley and one in Auburn. We liked her concept, the clean look of the shop, the flavors and the huge amount of toppings. We did quiet a bit of research and made numerous trips to Grass Valley to look at her shops.
Kelly: How long of a process was this? From the time you were visiting to signing the agreement? Elizabeth: It took about a year. This is her brand, it’s personal to her. So we went through the process with her and her son because we really like her and her business. Looking back, there is just no way I would have been able to do this on my own.
WHY YOGURT, ARE YOU FANATICS?
Elizabeth: I would have to say, my husband is the yogurt fanatic. But we looked at the demographics of downtown and there really isn’t a desert shop. We were looking for something healthier, a healthier choice. Although you kinda go out of the healthy realm depending on the toppings! But the fact there wasn’t a yogurt shop downtown was the driver.
Elizabeth: I had never owned a retail shop. I worked on Main Street and have been on Main Street since 1992. I was a mortgage broker for 20 years. I got tired of doing that! After that I just wanted to try something different. The space we’re in now was occupied by sofey’s furniture store. When they decided to leave that’s when we decided to do retail.
NOW FOR THE IMPORTANT STUFF!
Elizabeth: We have three standard flavors, chocolate, vanilla and tart. I’ve yet to switch out the peanut butter because the customers love it and say it’s the best flavor. Then we have a sorbet and a no-sugar added flavor. But what’s really unique about Culture Shock is that we can make shakes from our yogurt, called YO-Shakes.
Kelly: How do you choose your flavors? Elizabeth: I listen to what people have to say, what they are asking for. Then I look to see if there are available recipes and flavors. If it isn’t available then I try to get something similar.
Kelly: What about toppings, how do you choose those? Elizabeth: We just bought everything that looked like it would be good on yogurt!
Kelly: What are the most popular toppings? Elizabeth: Whipped cream is very popular. For kids, it’s usually anything gummy. Adults usually go with nuts and fresh fruit.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
Elizabeth: Other than working in retail when I was younger I’ve never owned a retail store. It’s been a learning experience – opening this and learning how to deal with employees, the government and inventory…I’m just now thinking about going into events. I’m looking into bring in the carts. I think its a definite for next year. Events are huge! But for now we hold in-store fundraisers. It’s so easy and a percentage of the proceeds go to the charity. For instance we have one for Plainfield School that coming up.
Elizabeth:I’m a local owner who grew up in Woodland. I think we have the best yogurt and toppings in town. And our employees are wonderful! Yogurt is the perfect dessert for anytime of day.