39 Below Frozen Yogurt — Staying Relevant in the Columbus Cold
by Christina Best
39 Below is the sweet, small, and unassuming frozen yogurt shop along Parsons Avenue in Olde Towne East. Look a little closer, and you’ll find that owner Carolyn Maloney’s business is anything but average. Maloney began selling frozen yogurt at this location in March, and she recently added a seasonal pop-up pho shop to her menu—an unusual pairing—in order to “winterize” her business. For $7, customers can load up on spices and veggies and are given the choice between chicken, beef, and tofu broths. On why pho and frozen yogurt work well together: “they are healthier options that fill you up without weighing you down.”
While the cold doesn’t often get in between us intrepid Ohioans and our frozen treats, it can’t be easy to maintain a business that primarily serves frozen yogurt. For Maloney, preparing for the winter months has been about adapting and evolving to the needs of her clientele. Because people aren’t just walking around the city in the city, her pho offering gives people a reason to swing by the shop. Staying open during the winter is also important to Maloney because it allows her to provide steady employment to her staff, and it gives patrons a destination to visit year-round.
Maloney has been training to own her own business her entire life. As a kid, Maloney says she was always testing out business ideas, including selling lemonade and chalk she collected from her parent’s backyard after it was leveled.
Maloney has always had a strong desire to bring people together through her entrepreneurial endeavors. As a teenager, she fostered her love of people and business by working her summers at her best friend’s parent’s ice cream shop in her hometown of Toledo. After graduating, Maloney remembered those foundational summers at that ice cream shop and bought the equipment needed to open her own frozen yogurt shop. She first opened her doors in 2012 along Gay Street.
Maloney remained at that location for years, but, sensing an opportunity to help support the neighborhood she lived in and loved, she decided to move her business to Olde Towne East. So far, it’s been “such a positive experience business-wise,” Maloney said. She cites Old Towne East’s community-driven outlook as the main contributor to her success in her new location.
While community patronage is necessary for a business to succeed, it’s Maloney’s genuine love of Columbus, its people, and her support of the LGBTQ community that has positioned hers as a business worth supporting. It is apparent throughout our interview how much she cares about the people she serves. At one point, a sweaty man in workout clothes dropped into the shop and, for at least ten minutes, Maloney listened carefully as he described a recent 5K he’d ran.
So, how’s the yogurt? Damn delicious! Honey Greek is her signature flavor, but I tried the almond butter frozen yogurt, which is new this month. I added crunch coat, hot fudge, and sriracha—an oddly synchronous combination.
With 2017 around the corner, Maloney says she’s most looking forward to the continual growth of Old Towne East, and her role in mobilizing local entrepreneurs to continue guiding this neighborhood in a positive direction.