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Chill Pop Shop’s unique frozen novelties advance to national market

Chill Pop Shop


Maggie and Elizabeth Pryor of Chill Pop Shop

Popsicles aren’t usually at the forefront of the mind in the middle of winter, but despite the frosty weather, business is hot for the owners of Chill Pop Shop.

Owners Elizabeth and Maggie Pryor have come a long way from their early days of pedaling their all- natural ice pops to customers at local venues. Not only have they expanded to retail markets such as Whole Foods and Mustard Seed Market throughout Ohio, now they're available at retail outlets across the Mid-Atlantic United States.
 
As of this past summer, Chill Pops are in the freezers of Mustard Seed, Whole Foods and MOM’s Organic Market throughout Ohio, Washington, D.C., Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia 
 
“It’s so exciting,” says Chill CEO Elizabeth Pryor. “It’s exciting to hear from friends and family everywhere who can enjoy our popsicles.”
 
The Pryors – Elizabeth, a holistic health coach and her wife Maggie, a health and wellness educator – started Chill Pop Shop out of the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen (CCLK) in 2013 with the intention of making frozen treats using only real fruit and all natural, fresh ingredients.
 
“We started Chill Pop because we’re very passionate about food and where it comes from,” says Elizabeth. “We use all real fruit, grass-fed dairy and fair trade organic sugar. We take great care of where we source everything.”
 
The first year, Elizabeth and Maggie sold their pops at the Cleveland Flea, farmers markets and food truck events such as Walnut Wednesday. By their second summer, Elizabeth and Maggie were catering and serving their pops at private events.
   
The pair soon grew out of the CCLK space and moved to a storefront on E. 185th Street in North Collinwood. Then, while working on their packaging design, Maggie and Elizabeth learned Whole Foods was interested in their products.
 
“We happened to land a meeting with Whole Foods in advance of opening their Rocky River location,” recalls Elizabeth. “They were looking for local suppliers.”
 
It took about a year to get the details and package design figured out, but by September 2015, Chill Pops were on the shelves in time for the Rocky River Whole Foods opening. “They performed really well there,” Elizabeth recalls. “It helped that we had been around Cleveland for a few years, so we had name recognition. We were constantly asked ‘where can I get these?’”
 
By the summer of 2016 Chill Pops were in stores across seven states. Plans are in the works for even more expansion by the spring of this year. “In Northern Virginia and Pittsburgh, they’re buying it off the shelves without even trying it,” boasts Elizabeth. “It’s doing really well in major markets.”
 
Having outgrown their North Collinwood space, Chill Pops moved again in November 2015, this time to a 3,500-square-foot space in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood’s Tyler Village. The space has walk-in coolers and freezers, plenty of workspace, office space and allows Elizabeth and Maggie to do their packaging on-site.
 
Chill Pop Shop now has six flavors of pops: avocado mint chip, black pepper plum, cucumber kiwi, lemon ricotta, sea salt strawberry cream, and watermelon lime, many of which are vegan. Additionally, Elizabeth and Maggie will introduce two more vegan flavors this year: blueberry basil and coco mocha fudge. In all they have created more than 40 flavors.
 
Elizabeth says her favorite flavor depends on the weather, although early-on her favorite was avocado mint chip.
 
While entry into the national market is limiting their time these days, the Pryors are still true to Cleveland. “We’ve scaled back our mobile presence,” Elizabeth says, “But people around Cleveland will still see us out and about.”

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 18 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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