Frozen yogurt remains popular despite CREAM's opening
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Category: News > City > Business
Despite lines wrapping around the corner and a seemingly cult-like obsession with recently opened ice cream sandwich store CREAM, the city of Berkeley's numerous frozen yogurt stores appear to have stayed relatively unfazed by the shop's popularity.
While many customers flocked to CREAM after its opening at the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Channing Way in December, managers and owners of local frozen yogurt shops said that due to the products' differences, they have not seen a noticeable decrease in business.
Charles Lee, owner of Michelle's Yogurt & Sweets on Durant Avenue, said that when customers want a certain frozen yogurt flavor that he only offers in ice cream, "they walk out and go to other frozen yogurt stores."
"I don't know too much about the ice cream market, but in the past it's been that the people who want the healthy alternative come to get frozen yogurt, and people who don't really care go to get ice cream," said Ryan Piscovich, manager of Yogurt Park.
But preference for frozen yogurt or ice cream may not be the only thing that determines customer attraction to dessert stores.
"I think that if they had an ice cream place where you could put on your own toppings and choose your own ice cream, then it would be really popular," said Emily Rowe, a CREAM customer.
In the world of frozen yogurt, the self-serve option is a distinguishing point between shops like Yogurtland and Yogurt Park.
"I think that people who used to come here and are trying out the self-serve stuff are slowly coming back because they realize our quality is better," Piscovich said.
Regardless of their opinion on the merits of self-serve, customers and owners alike agree that location is very important in determining traffic to such shops.
UC Berkeley freshman Sherry Jiang said CREAM benefits from many passersby due to its central location.
Lee said that his store is disadvantaged by being off Telegraph but that because his rent is just over $1,000, he is able to offer lower prices.
Lee sold ice cream, muffins and cookies for over 14 years and, though he stopped for a while, began to sell ice cream sandwiches once CREAM opened because he heard customers complaining about the long lines. Due to his low rent and the fact that he is the store's only employee, Lee continues to sell ice cream sandwiches for $1.50, while CREAM recently raised its price to $2.00.
Both Lee and Piscovich said they have seen minimal, if any, drops in revenue in recent months. Yogurtland manager Huong Vu said the store always sees a lull in profits in the winter and could not attribute any drop solely to the opening of CREAM.
Though yogurt shops continue to thrive in spite of CREAM's opening, competition still exists within the yogurt community on Telegraph.
Pinkberry, a frozen yogurt company that planned to open across the street from CREAM amid opposition from local yogurt shops, no longer has plans to open. Papamingo - one of the stores whose owner opposed Pinkberry's opening - recently closed, according to Roland Peterson, executive director of the Telegraph Business Improvement District.
"This is nothing new. This happened in the '80s - a big yogurt boom where there was a yogurt shop on every corner," said Piscovich, adding that Yogurt Park, which has been around for over 30 years, retains a group of loyal customers.
Jiang said that though she frequents Yogurtland most often, when she has visitors she always takes them to "experience the awesomeness of CREAM."
Contact Emma Dries at [email protected]
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