Preparing for the day’s customers Tuesday morning, Ashlyn Christison wipes down the wheelchair accessible yogurt machines at the new yogurt business addition to The Short Stop at Gekeler Lane and 12th Street in south La Grande. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
Store plans to add coffee shop soon
On hot summer days, a cold treat can hit the spot. Fred Bell Jr., owner of The Short Stop, hopes he can deliver a creative creamy dessert for the right price.
Bell has owned The Short Stop convenience store and Shell gas station for 15 years, and his father owned it for 10 years before that.
“After about 25 years it kind of needed a facelift,” Bell said of the station.
About a year ago an idea sparked for how to get that facelift moving. The lightbulb idea: frozen yogurt.
Bell said his family always wants it when they go on vacation, and it’s an option that allows patrons to make healthy choices.
“We’ve tracked it a lot,” Bell said. “We did lots of research.”
That’s why he has also decided to put a coffee shop in the newly-renovated side of the building with the yogurt. The entire building has gotten a makeover with a fresh facade of rock and plenty of new parking.
Bell said he hopes to have the coffee section, complete with traditional coffee and blended drinks, up and running in about a month.
Amidst all of the changes going on at The Short Stop on Gekeler Lane, Bell hopes to maintain something he says has been important all along: competitive pricing.
“I want (people) to be able to afford it once a week if they want,” Bell said of the yogurt, which is priced now at 39 cents an ounce. Bell says the state average is 43 cents per ounce.
“Right now I want to do volume,” Bell said. “It’s a different concept, and we are aggressive.”
The Short Stop’s yogurt operation opened Aug. 6. It is filled with Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant machines that Bell says are the best in the country.
“(Customers) are absolutely amazed at how creamy it is,” Bell said.
But the cornerstone of frozen yogurt, Bell said, is the toppings. The Short Stop has more than 80 to choose from, Bell said.
A week in, Bell said he already has some regulars.
“I think low prices and a good product will get you a long way,” he said. “We’re loving the excitement.”