COVID-19 Relief for Swirlz Soft Serve Parlor

Swirlz Soft Serve Parlor is a small female and family owned and operated soft serve frozen yogurt and ice cream shop open since 2017. Like many other businesses, we are struggling during this unprecedented time. Compounded by the latest round of restrictions, we don't see the situation improving any time soon so we are asking for help to stay open through the protracted pandemic restrictions and effects.

My children and I loved getting self-serve frozen yogurt but we had to drive some distance to get our fix. Each time a traditional scoop ice cream shop came and left from this location, I wished someone would open a frozen yogurt shop. After several iterations of this and no frozen yogurt shop, I finally decided to open one myself.

Because everyone has special preferences and needs, I broadened our range to include variations of ice cream, non-dairy, organic, and no-sugar-added soft serve. A sample of customer favorites include lemon custard, cookie butter ice cream, taro gelato, NSA peanut butter frozen yogurt, matcha coconut milk, cookies 'n' cream oat milk, pineapple Dole Whip, and our very own organic tart frozen yogurt made with fresh organic Greek yogurt and nonfat milk. It was a challenge to fit a self-serve operation into our tiny space but we managed to squeeze in 4 machines and utilized wall-mounted dispensers. The wall-mounted dispensers actually allowed us to offer many more toppings, which now total to over 60 options. We have been a place to meet up with friends, go on a date, celebrate a birthday or team victory, have dessert after a meal, or just to treat the children or yourself.

What is happening now:
As expected, the frozen dessert business is very weather-dependent. Under normal circumstances, increased business during the warm spring and summer months helps us get through the slower winter months. Due to COVID-19, and to some extent the local fires when residents were told to stay indoors because of unhealthy air quality, we instead experienced a substantial decline. It was a challenge just to stay open but we managed with some rent deferrals which we will have to start repaying in January and assistance programs. In the spring when the Safer at Home orders were first issued, our normally robust after school crowds evaporated. This fall, the after school crowds continued to be non-existent because of online classes. We also felt the effects of neighboring businesses which slowed or closed and whose customers were no longer stopping by to have dessert or pick up a quick treat. Nine months (and counting) of restrictions has taken its toll. Several nearby ice cream shops have permanently closed; I'm hoping to avoid the same fate.

Since the first pandemic orders in March, I've been trying to keep our frozen treat business relevant and worthwhile. To stay open, I adjusted our self-serve format and until restrictions are lifted, we prepare all orders customizing them per our customers' wishes. Curbside pick-up was added to complement our courier services. I added family packs to our offerings to better accommodate the safer at home orders. Additional products are in development and will be added to our menu soon. When it was allowed, we set up our outdoor table and chairs which we sanitized between customers. For a few months, this became an outdoor place away from home where people could briefly meet with friends and family but due to the most recent orders, our outdoor dining must once again be halted. With winter on the horizon and the expected decline in customers, our outlook is bleak and hence this appeal.

How to help:
We are grateful for our valued and loyal customers and for everything everyone has been doing to keep small businesses like ours afloat. Unfortunately, business as usual does not appear to be returning in the near future. We are hoping our amazing community and customers can help us get through these tough times.

All money raised will go toward rent, insurance, utilities, payroll, inventory, and other operating expenses to keep our doors open. No amount is too small. Even if you are unable to donate, you can still help by sharing this so we can reach more people. 

Thank you in advance for the support, we love and appreciate each and every one of you and your kindness does not go unnoticed!

With love and thanks,
Swirlz Soft Serve Parlor

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Seph Jew
San Marino, CA

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