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November 17. 2012 8:26PM

New grad hopes frozen yogurt a sweet success


Ali Maynard, 23, of Hollis opened a Yogurt in Love franchise in Nashua. It's the first franchise in the state, and she holds the rights for New Hampshire and the Boston area. (SIMN ROS/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA - Lovers of frozen treats have long lacked a place to satisfy their palates in downtown Nashua. After Friday's opening of Yogurt in Love, they finally have a place to do it.

Ali Maynard, 23, of Hollis, is the young entrepreneur behind the franchise, the first in the state. Maynard graduated from Arizona State University in 2011, and returning home she hatched the idea of opening a yogurt place in the heart of the city.

"Frozen yogurt's really popular (in the West), so there's tons of different brands of frozen yogurt, and when I moved back here there really wasn't any," she said. "I love sweets, I love desserts, and this just gave us a healthy alternative rather than ice cream. She she said there were 10 different yogurt shops in a 10-mile radius where she went to college in Arizona. With the frozen yogurt explosion across United States, Maynard spotted an opportunity to get in the game.

She reviewed various franchises before landing on Yogurt in Love, which she picked because the brand uses Honey Hill Farms yogurt. "They offer a wide variety of flavors," she said. "They have seasonal flavors, sorbets, nonfat, no-fat, no-sugar, gluten-free, which is very popular now."

The shop has six yogurt machines, each with two distinct flavors and the option of swirl.

"And then we offer about 30 toppings, ranging from refrigerated toppings to dry toppings, walnuts, granola, sweets, brownies, fresh fruit - everything that we do here is fresh fruit," said Maynard.

Maynard attended barrista school in Massachusetts. The shop will also sell Lavazza coffee products, including cappuccino and espresso. Fruit smoothies will also be available.

Maynard said she bought into the franchise and received the rights for New Hampshire and the Boston area. The company assisted with design, promotional materials and equipment.

Yogurt in Love began in South Carolina. According to the company's website, its provides franchises with business plans, operator's manuals, on-site training, scaled design layout, architectural work, all products and designs, use of trademarks and free national ad campaigns.

Business roots

Maynard's family has been instrumental in the business, including her father and stepmother, and brother and sister, who will work at the store.

Her father is Mark Maynard, a developer and veteran restaurateur in the city. (His grandfather, Dr. Oswald Maynard, was Nashua's mayor from 1946 to 1949.)

Maynard was behind what he said was Nashua's first Mexican restaurant, La Hacienda, which was built in 1979 and continues in operation.

He said he loves the location of his daughter's shop. "This was a drugstore back in the '60s, and they had the old-fashioned fountains, and I used to come in here and get my grilled cheese and my cheeseburger and soda."

He also pointed out that the store's Main Street address is 143, a text message code for "I love you."

Maynard said his daughters have worked in restaurants since they were 14, so opening a business was a natural progression for Ali.

Yogurt In Love is one of myriad "fro-yo" brands that have taken the frozen dessert industry by storm. According to the NPD Group, a New York-based market research firm, over the last five years ice cream consumption has declined while yogurt is on the rise. Though yogurt doesn't sell even a tenth the amount of servings ice cream does, sales have increased by 23 percent since 2007.

NPD's research shows that 2 billion servings of ice cream were ordered this year versus 138 million servings of ice cream. But ice cream servings were flat compared to the same period last year, while yogurt servings increased by 12 percent. The growth is attributed to more major quick-service fro-yo chains and the expansion of retail units.

In Southern New Hampshire the trend has been no different. Starting in August of 2011, Tutti Frutti has opened in the malls in Nashua, Manchester and Salem. TCBY recently opened in Bedford, in addition to a Merry Berry in Jaffrey and Orange Leaf in Portsmouth, among others.

Since Ali Maynard holds the New Hampshire and Boston area rights to Yogurt in Love, she hopes for the Nashua store to be a model for future locations. "I will be opening more," she said. "Yes, this is just the beginning."

Asked how many more she will open, Maynard smiled: "I hope a lot." She's already considering Boston's South End and Financial District.

The new business employs six people. Though the staff is full, the store is accepting applications. Hours are Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Simon Rios may be reached at srios@newstote.com.



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