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Sat, March 23

Made in Kingman: Native finds a tasty way to repay her home town

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<BR>Frozen Yogurt Island owner Nancy Villanueva.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<BR>Frozen Yogurt Island owner Nancy Villanueva.

KINGMAN - For Nancy Villanueva, business means giving back to the community that raised her in a cool and tasty way.

Villanueva is the owner of Frozen Yogurt Island located in the Home Depot Plaza, 3880 Stockton Hill Rd. She opened the frozen yogurt shop with the help of a partner in 2010 with the idea that the shop would become a gathering place for the community. She took over the partnership earlier this year.

"I was born and raised here. I knew Kingman needed something like this, a place where kids could gather and hang out," she said. "A lot of my friends asked me why I would want to uproot my family and move back here [from Las Vegas]. But Kingman has more of a hometown feel to it than the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas.

"I didn't even ask my husband. I just did it. It was kind of hard at first. I give all the glory to God that everything just fell into place. This was my first business, but I would do it again."

The shop offers a variety of frozen yogurt flavors by Yo Cream. Customers select one of three containers when they enter the shop - 8, 12 or 16 ounces, fill it with their favor frozen yogurt flavor or two flavors, choose their favorite toppings from a smorgasbord of fresh fruit, caramel, sprinkles and candy toppings and then have it weighted at the register.

"We did a lot of research before we settled on Yo Cream," Villanueva said. "I like the texture and the taste, plus it's one of the only frozen yogurts with live cultures. We try to switch out the flavors on a regular basis, but there are some that we always have, like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and cake batter. I think people would mutiny if I took away cake batter. We also always carry at least one sugar-free, one no-fat, one low-fat flavors and a sorbet."

Most of the flavors are also gluten-free, she said. And because it's yogurt, not ice cream, many customers who are lactose intolerant are able to enjoy a frosty treat.

"I always try to buy fresh, in-season fruit for the toppings bar and switch to the warmer toppings in the winter," Villanueva said.

When Frozen Yogurt Island first opened its doors, Villanueva and her partner had to drive back and forth to Costco in Las Vegas at least once a month to keep their self-serve machines full.

"It was a trick keeping that frozen yogurt cold on the way back," she said. Now the frozen yogurt is delivered.

That isn't the only thing that's changed since the yogurt shop opened. Villanueva took over the partnership earlier this year and celebrated by redecorating, adding a soda machine, more fresh fruit smoothies to the menu, free WiFi and lots of board games so customers can sit and relax.

She also plans to offer a mystery flavor contest on a regular basis with a variety of prizes for the winner. Her first attempt in May generated a lot of buzz with 115 entrants.

Villanueva is also continuing the shop's history of supporting local fundraisers, such as the Kingman 4-H groups, various local schools, JO Softball, the Arizona Youth Partnership and John Bathauer's family.

"We really try to be very family-oriented," she said. "I try to learn all the names of my customers."

"We take that motto seriously," she added, pointing to a stencil above the door to the shop that reads: "May all who enter as guests leave as friends."

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