Despite Higher Prices, Ice Cream Sandwich Market Remains Healthy

Photo: CREAM recently raised their prices and may be facing competition from Michelle's Yogurt & Sweets.
CREAM recently raised their prices and may be facing competition from Michelle's Yogurt & Sweets.

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Despite a recent 33 percent raise in ice cream sandwich prices at CREAM, cookies are still ruling everything around customers at one of the most recent frozen treat shop additions to the Telegraph Avenue area.

The store, located at Telegraph and Channing Way, increased the price of a sandwich March 17 from $1.50 to $2.00, while the price of a single cookie increased from $0.50 to $0.65.

Owner Jimmy Shamieh said the rising cost of energy caused their suppliers to charge more for the store's Double Rainbow Ice Cream and Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, as well as cleaning supplies, forcing the business to reconsider the low prices it offered.

"We were faced with four choices," Shamieh said. "We could lower the quality of our product, cut our expenses to the bare minimum, which we have already tried to do, let team members go or increase the prices of our products."

While many CREAM customers were initially surprised at the price increase, including Maxine Fredericksen, a UC Berkeley employee who often stops at the eatery on her way to the Rockridge BART station, most said the higher price would not deter them.

"$1.50 was an incredible deal for two cookies and a big scoop of ice cream," she said. "I think it was to lure us in, but with food prices going up, it couldn't last."

Shamieh said switching from the more expensive, premium ice cream and cookie supply to a cheaper counterpart was not a sacrifice he was willing to make, adding that he believed raising the price would result in a less negative impact on business operations.

"We didn't want to let employees go, or cut their salaries because their salaries are already below the average market level," Shamieh said. "It would jeopardize their incomes and livelihoods."

About two weeks ago, Charles Lee, owner of Michelle's Yogurt & Sweets on Durant Avenue, also began selling ice cream sandwiches, charging $1.50 per sandwich and also using Otis Spunkmeyer cookies.

The business move was in response to complaints from customers about waiting in line at CREAM for more than 30 minutes to get a sandwich, Lee said.

"I've been selling ice cream for over 14 years," he said. "I used to sell cookies, too. But now I can sell them both together."

Lee said business has improved since he started selling the sandwiches. The low rent he pays, in addition to the fact that he is the store's only employee, allows him to keep the price of individual ice cream scoops, single cookies and cookie sandwiches low.

Customers have been complaining and asking questions about why CREAM raised prices, Shamieh said, but they are generally understanding when employees explain the situation.

Fredericksen said that although a sandwich at Michelle's is cheaper, she probably will not change her daily route past CREAM just to save $0.50.


Contact Amruta Trivedi at [email protected]

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