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Fro-yo shop gives the cold shoulder

David Larter June 7, 2012 77


Pennsylvania-based Yapple Yogurt made its Carytown debut Wednesday but got a frosty reception from its next-door neighbor: Sweet Frog.

On Yapple’s first day in business on Cary Street, six Sweet Frog employees stood outside and tried to direct pedestrians into their shop. A Sweet Frog mascot danced and pointed to the Sweet Frog store.

Sweet Frog also parked two branded cars on the street in front of Yapple’s door.

Andy Lin, owner of Yapple Yogurt, said he expected Sweet Frog to come after him.

“All this,” he said, pointing to the Sweet Frog cars, “clever marketing tricks might work a little bit, but at the end of the day customers are going to make their decision based on whose yogurt tastes better. Whatever makes people happier, that’s what matters.”

This is Yapple’s fifth location. A sixth is in the works at Willow Lawn.

The new store cost almost twice as much to build as other locations and was over budget by almost $100,000, Lin said.

“The infrastructure of the building was in worse shape than we thought,” Lin said. “It came close to $600,000. It’s put a strain on the growth of the company, because for that we could have opened nearly two stores.”

The original plan was to occupy 5,000 square feet on two floors, Lin said, but the company had trouble getting permits.

“We gave up on the second floor halfway though,” he said. “If we had waited to get the permits, we would be opening next year. The good thing is that we have the option to grow with our customer base.”

Lin, 24, said the company financed the store with profits from other locations and loans from family. Lin said that would help the shop withstand Sweet Frog’s promotional campaign.

“One of the nice things about being well backed is that Sweet Frog could keep this up for a year, and we’ll still be here,” he said.

The Yapple store has 13 employees, but Lin said he wants about 16. He is looking for a manager and an assistant manager for the location.

As for the yogurt empire next door — Sweet Frog has more than 60 locations — Lin said he hopes to win over customers with friendly service and tasty yogurt.

“We want people to decide for themselves,” he said. “Come in, try the yogurt. If you like my yogurt, great. But if you don’t, you’re still our friend.”


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  1. sheck June 8, 2012 at 8:58 am - Reply

    What a rediculous conversation. Religion and Yogurt? OMG! Crazy. I went to SF yesterday for the first time and was not impressed at all. The yogurt was not great but the toppings! Horrible. What happened to the healthful aspect of yogurt? I’d much rather have Gelati Celesti’s full fat, high calorie chocolate decadence than that junk. DeLuca Gelato is the best for healthful eating. UMMM

  2. Biz Neighbor June 8, 2012 at 8:59 am - Reply

    Down the street we thought since this is such a lucrative model we should dump our product and sell Sour PUSS* frozen lemonade.

    *Partially Underwritten by Satan.

  3. Tim Edwards June 8, 2012 at 9:17 am - Reply

    Ok, enough! This is yogurt, a frozen FUN FOOD. We should not debate or argue the merits of either business. McDonalds and Burger King have done the same thing for years. Both survive and one thrives. This will result in a similar outcome.

    I prefer good ‘ol ice cream on a cone. That will outlive all of us.

  4. Rachael June 8, 2012 at 9:31 am - Reply

    To the Sweet Frog employee: thanks for commenting, and not in a “reactive” way. I’m constantly considering the whole business-religion issue and it’s good to hear your perspective in what it’s like to work for a “Christian” company while not claiming to the faith yourself. How we live and treat others around us speaks so much louder than words.

    As for the overall issue: agreed that Richmonders are great and that we can have business-religious discussions like this in a civil way. We have a lot of religious heritage in the city and we can’t ignore that and how it affects the way we do business with each other, whether we say it’s a part of the company or not. The products and services we provide, as well as the attitude with which we provide the, are the “actions” that speak for us and whether or not we are worth having customers! So I look forward to seeing what both Yapple and Sweet Frog offer – I’m a big Sweet Frog fan myself, but will give Yapple a chance as well.

  5. Eric Alfredson June 8, 2012 at 10:19 am - Reply

    “Cant we all just get along?” Ronney King.

    It seems like a little dirty pool, but may also be a little good natured ribbing. Let’s be honest. They should have expected this. It is pretty balsy to opent up a store like this, next door to a strong and established competitor. At least everybody knows where to go to get the product. If one is busy, go to the other. If one is not as good as the other, in time, the market will decide if both can stay, of if one has to go (or BOTH).

    It’s war baby!!!

  6. Ruben Foster June 8, 2012 at 10:54 am - Reply

    62 comments on frozen yogurt. That has to be a new comment record for RBS. ICE CREAM IS BETTER!

  7. Carol June 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Agreed, Bobbie. That place (SF) is a seizure waiting to happen. Also it is sticky, loud, and full of kids on the verge of barfing. The trash containers out front are constantly overflowing. I like walking past and going to Bev’s. Real ice cream all the way.

  8. Tracy June 8, 2012 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Is anyone here old enough to remember TCBY? Lines out the door back in the 80s. Won’t last.

  9. Roy Edward June 9, 2012 at 6:18 am - Reply

    Excuse me ? The Yapple guy builds a store NEXT DOOR to Sweet Frog and says THEY came after HIM?? Are you kidding me? I think Sweet Frog will win this war, and fast. At best, this guy can’t be a very smart businessman. At worst, he’s cocky. It would have been smarter to build at the other end of the strip.

  10. Ned Brogan June 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Here’s the thing: It’s a free country- at least for a little while longer. And to open the business right next door is perfectly legal. But where are the business ethics in this? I’m all about free enterprise, and trying to make a dollar. I’m also all about competition, and open-market dynamics. But in Richmond, VA, don’t we normally try to foster a more positive competitive environment. Opening a location a quarter mile down the street would have been a better choice. FAIL!

  11. Alice June 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    I heard that Yapple uses locally grown ingredients whenever possible and makes all of their yogurt fresh daily. If this is true, I’m on team Yapple.

  12. Jake S June 13, 2012 at 9:49 am - Reply

    If anyone has ever met or done business with Derek from SweetFrog, you would know that he is capable of operating FAR from “Christian” standards.

  13. MJ June 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    IMO, Richmond is being overcome by the FroYo craze, Sweet Frog, Yapple, Bobalicious, Red Apple. It’s become a tiresome subject. The true test will come in WINTER when it’s too cold eat it!

  14. Bubba July 24, 2012 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    I have to agree with the other comments here that this was both “in your face” and also a follow-the-leader strategy. It is common practice in some retail (e.g., mattresses) to put your stores right next to an established brand to draw on their advertising. That said, also know the hipster, pro-homosexual, organic crowd does NOT like the fact that Sweet Frog is a Christian-based business and often ask those behind the counter about whether they believe in God, if Yapple is a Christian business, etc. Frankly, the level of intolerance they exhibit, if not so deliciously ironic, is absolutely self-defeating.

  15. DM August 8, 2012 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Do yourself a favor. Skip the yogurt all together. Ice Cream, ounce for ounce, is better for you. It’s not loaded with sugar (and covered with even worse toppings) to make up for the fat they take out. Sugar + sugar = chubby and diabetic. Bad algebra, but you get the point. Go to Bev’s. She’s nicer, her product tastes better, and she’s local.

  16. Sam September 18, 2012 at 10:27 am - Reply

    What goes around comes around. Yapple did the same to Sweet Frog that Sweet Frog did to Brusters on Staple’s Mill Rd. Sweet Frog set up shop right next to Brusters. Now the same has happen to Sweet Frog.

    The saying “What goes around comes around”..

  17. Christina January 8, 2013 at 10:47 am - Reply

    @ Bubba I’m not sure what being “pro-homosexual”, a hipster, or organic has to do with NOT liking Christian-based businesses. I would consider myself a supporter of all sexual orientations; I’m concerned about my global foot print, and I call myself a Christian. I would debate the rest of your post with you as I’m sure it’s also blindly stereotypical; however, it is so poorly written I’m actually not quite sure if you are bashing Yapple, Sweet Frog, their individual employees, or organic-pro-homo-hipsters. Collect your thoughts, expand your mind, come back to me.

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