Starting a new business can be a big risk, especially during a global pandemic. A Freeland couple is hoping to corner the market with sweet treats unique to Whidbey with the re-opening of their shop, just in time for summer.
Located in the old liquor store next door to Island Herb in Freeland, the Beary Scoop, a shop offering a tantalizing combination of frozen yogurt and bubble tea, is officially back in business as of June 23.
The store first opened in March, a few days before Gov. Jay Inslee made the call to shutter all non-essential businesses.
Owners Mario Saenz and Veronica Anguiano are not new to the industry.
Saenz comes from a long line of restaurant owners and the couple owned Molka Xete, a Mexican restaurant in Greenbank, for two years before making the decision to close it June 1.
Saenz said owning the Mexican restaurant definitely helped prepare them for their newest venture with frozen yogurt.
The initial plan was to keep both businesses going, but with complications in their day job hours as postal office workers, the pair found they no longer had the time to dedicate to running Molka Xete.
“It was unfortunate what happened over there, but I think we’ve made a pretty smooth transition,” Saenz said.
He cited their attachment to customers as the hardest part of closing Molka Xete, but he is thankful for the continued support locals have been giving to their newest business.
Opening the frozen yogurt shop had been an idea of Anguiano’s, and something the couple had been investing in before COVID-19 hit.
“We saw the opportunity to finally open up a frozen yogurt shop, which is something that she wanted to invest in and we kind of just took the shot,” Saenz said.
When they lived in Texas, the husband and wife went on many dates to frozen yogurt shops. Upon moving to Washington, they were excited to find bubble tea shops all over the mainland.
But it wasn’t something in Freeland, where the couple has lived since 2017. And the only frozen yogurt available was up in Oak Harbor.
“I was like, ‘Man, frozen yogurt here would be amazing,’” Anguiano said with a laugh. “I was very excited that I didn’t have to commute so far anymore to get one of my favorite treats.”
The Beary Scoop is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.
One of the walls has been painted a cheerful hue of yellow, with furniture to match. Bear decor adorns nearly every surface, from snow globes to stuffed animals.
Anguiano came up with the name and designed the logo herself. She was inspired by the amount of berries on Whidbey Island and in the state.
“There were so many berries that I didn’t even know existed until I came out here,” Anguiano said.
Currently there are six flavors of frozen yogurt, which will be interchangeable.
Saenz said they plan to keep the pineapple flavor the longest because it is water-based and dairy-free.
The shop has re-opened at the peak of summer and has been welcoming locals and visitors alike.
“Having a business prior, we kind of learned how the island is at times and what the busy season is and what isn’t, and that’s why we have to take advantage of that now,” Saenz said.
Navigating the business regulations for COVID-19 has been an unexpected hurdle, but one the owners are willing to overcome.
“The biggest challenge has been to cope with the changes as fast as we can,” Saenz said.
They have been sanitizing the store more often. To minimize contact, employees are scooping the frozen yogurt toppings for customers when traditionally the fixings have been a free-for-all.
Despite the current economic downturn, Saenz and Anguiano are optimistic about their new frozen yogurt and bubble tea business.
“I feel like they compliment each other,” Anguiano said.
“They’re both refreshing items.”