ROCKINGHAM — With temperatures in Richmond County sweltering near the 100-degree mark, a new shop will open on Friday to help residents cool down.
Twisted Treats will hold its grand opening that day, and even though the building will not be finished until Wednesday, owners Chris and Ashley Turner wanted to get the proverbial snowball rolling a few days in advance.
From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the parking lot behind First Bank, the frozen yougurt shop will be offering $2 8-ounce yogurt cup fill-ups and two scoops of hand dipped Hershey’s ice cream for $2, as well as free face painting and $1 popcorn and cotton candy.
Providing entertainment for the evening will be Cassette Rewind, an ’80s themed band led by Brandon Kirkley.
The new frozen treat shop will take over the building currently occupied by Lucero’s Shop and will offer Italian ice, gelato, self-serve and hand-dipped ice cream in addition to yogurt.
The Turners officially signed their lease with Tri City in March, and the couple has big plans for the 1,800 square-foot building and 5,000 square-foot courtyard.
“We’re gonna open the courtyard for outdoor seating as well as for live music on the weekends and a large projection screen for kids’ movie nights,” said Chris Turner.
Ashley Turner added they’ll also offer free Wi-Fi so students at Richmond Community College can stop by on their breaks and study while trying to avoid brain freeze.
“We’ll also have indoor and outdoor birthday party areas,” said Chris Turner. “This is more of a community thing than a profit thing.”
The Twisted Treats name originated from the machine that will spin up Twisted Tornadoes — similar to a Blizzard from Dairy Queen — but once the couple decided to add gelato and Italian ice, treats was added to the moniker.
There will also be at least two sugar-free options to choose from, in addition to the hot and cold topping bar.
The Turners are hoping to include other locally owned small businesses with what they call the “small business loyalty program.” The idea is to come in, buy yogurt, take the receipt to current partners Merle Norman, Highway 55 or Gifts For All Seasons and receive a 10-15 percent discount.
During Friday’s festivities, any patron who brings their Twisted Treat cup to Gifts For All Seasons will receive a door prize with a purchase. The shop is also offering a free scoop of ice cream for any law enforcement officers who shows their badge.
Other incentives will include weekly specials such as Friday fill-your-cup and a loyalty card that can be punched to receive a free treat after purchasing nine.
The new tenants are part of a renovation of the nearly 50-year-old Richmond Plaza announced last June. Work began with the Belk department store’s new façade, moved down to JCPenney and is currently wrapping up with the east side of the shopping center. Modernizing the shopping center is expected to cost between $2.5 million and $3.5 million.
The courtyard that will soon be Twisted Treats has been blocked off for some time due to a lack of tenants, but at one time it was a thriving area. Tri City CEO Neil Robinette hopes to bring it back to its former glory days.
“We want to revitalize that area specifically to get more businesses in there,” he said. “It works well for their use and fits perfect for the space.”
He also has plans to install an iron gate to keep the courtyard secure at night but also allow passers-by to see through it. The former space behind the courtyard is being pegged by Robinette for potential office space.
Ashley Turner said construction workers will be laying the concrete down for the outdoor patio on Monday, as well as giving the rest of the courtyard a facelift.
“We’ve got 16 tables and chairs that will be out here,” she said. “We’ve got five glider swings that will go out under the canopy. We’ll have about five tables that will go out in the front of the store and about eight to 10 in the party room itself. During the day when we’re not having a party, that will be used for additional seating. We’ll also have tables set up between Twisted Treats and Gifts For All Seasons.”
In the meantime, Tri City hopes the facelift and addition of new stores will make Richmond Plaza a regional shopping destination for residents of Richmond, Anson and Scotland counties as well as Chesterfield and Marlboro counties in South Carolina. The investment may also reduce the demand among Richmond residents to shop and dine in neighboring Moore County.
“We’re very excited. It’s been a lot of hard work,” said Ashley Turner. “We’re behind schedule, but we’re working everyday to get open. We’re just excited about being here and having a family atmosphere. We just wanna have somewhere that families can come and have a safe atmosphere. I want it to be fun for people to come.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.