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Alumni Spotlight: Bill Marker Opens Chilly Billy’s in Duluth

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Alumni Spotlight: Bill Marker Opens Chilly Billy’s in Duluth

The most punishing winter in decades might not be the most opportune moment to launch Duluth’s first frozen yogurt shop, but alumnus Bill Marker isn’t letting snow and subzero temperatures get in the way of debuting the second outlet of his Chilly Billy’s. Frozen yogurt fans felt the same as they defiantly made the trip over to the Bluestone shops for an ice cold treat. The do-it-yourself frozen yogurt shop Chilly Billy’s became the first retailer to open for business in the Bluestone multi-building retail complex off of Woodland Avenue at the beginning of March.

“Duluth has changed a lot,” Bill Marker, owner of Chilly Billy‘s, said. “It’s just a great city. I love it here. When the weather is nice, it’s the best place to be.”

Marker didn’t specify that the weather needed to be warm for it to be “nice,” and for “Chilly Billy” himself, a little cold weather wasn’t going to keep him from opening the doors any longer. With nothing more than a little word of mouth and some savvy social media moves, dozens of people came through the shop to try it out on opening day.

According to Marker, Chilly Billy’s is the first frozen yogurt place of its kind in the Twin Ports area. (Check out their array of yogurt flavors!)

chilly billy selection

Customers build their own frozen yogurt creations using the 50-odd assortments of toppings, including chocolate, nuts and various fruit. Once complete, the concoction is weighed, and the price runs about 49 cents per ounce.

“You do it yourself,” Marker said. “It’s more fun to do that than to walk into an ice cream store, give them five bucks, and they give you a Sundae.”

A former Bulldog himself, Marker graduated from UMD back in 1989 with a degree in Communication. He played tennis for UMD, and was captain of the team in his final year.

“(UMD) was nice, but there was nothing up here (near the campus),” Marker said. “If I had a date, I had to borrow a car and drive way down to the canal. Now, when everything is all said and done with all the restaurants (at Bluestone), it will really be swingin’.”

The family-owned business started nearly three years ago in the Dinkytown area of the Twin Cities campus. Marker and his wife Amy got the idea for a self-serve frozen yogurt shop while on a trip to Arizona and decided to try it back home. People liked what they were doing, and the business grew.

“We had people telling us that we should do more,” Marker said. “I went to UMD; I know and love the area. And there are no frozen yogurt places in the Duluth area. We decided it give it a go.”

Over the next several weeks, Chilly Billy’s will be joined by various other businesses that are moving into the retail spot. Waxing the City, a body waxing salon, opened halfway through March. Starbucks is set to open shortly after, and the much anticipated Qdoba Mexican restaurant is still on its way. (Check out the news coverage when it was revealed what businesses would be setting up shop in the Bluestone Loft area.)

For now, Chilly Billy’s is the place to go. It’s open from 11:00 am – 11:00 pm on weekdays and opens at noon on weekends.

“We’re not just a UMD place; it’s all of Duluth,” Marker said. “We’re here for the community, and we’re really happy to be here.”

chilly chilly billys
Bill Marker serving up a little frozen yogurt at his new location at Bluestone Lofts in Duluth, Minn.

(Article written by Aprill Emig with the UMD Statesman)