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.”
I wonder what Bev did when Sweet Frog moved into the neighborhood. I enjoy a competitive marketplace, but standing in front of your competitor’s place of business (if, in fact, that’s where they were standing) in an attempt to turn people away sounds rather mean spirited to me, or, at least, it would make me wonder if the Frog is Frightened.
Wow, that sure didn’t seem like a very ‘christian’ response from Sweet Frogs – what happend to ‘love thy neighbor’?
I will be interested to see how kharma takes on this situation….on both sides.
I can’t believe Sweet Frog would resort to such a petty stunt. How disappointing.
BizSense should send someone out there on Saturday’s warm, sunny afternoon and count customers for each location for an hour — would make for an interesting follow up #YogurtWars story.
Poor Mitchem’s Shoe Repair, literally caught between Jesus and a hard place.
It’s a brilliant move by Sweet Frog from a marketing standpoint. Here you have an article that is supposed to talk about the opening of a competitor a two doors down, but half of the article mentions Sweet Frog in some way.
I understand the need for marketing but this is kind of ruthless. It is not like Yapple is across the street and Sweet Frog is doing their thing on their side… they are directly in front of Yapple. That crosses the line of fair play. I agree with Blake. Sweet Frog is fully relying on hardcore marketing ploys rather than other things right now. If anything, Sweet Frog will have more customers who regularly visit the store. I myself love Sweet Frog but I haven’t been there for months because of the ridiculous lines. I have went down on many… Read more »
I was out at Carytown yesterday, and it was certainly a competitive atmosphere. I, though, can’t blame Sweet Frog for their efforts. Yapple positioned this new location almost directly next door. Yesterday, they also had employees out in front of the location telling customers (some of which were in front of Sweet Frog) to come to Yapple for free yogurt. So, who can blame Sweet Frog for defending themselves? Placement of the store was Yapples first move in the FroYo war.
And touché…I stand corrected. They both are aggressively marketing.
I too can’t blame them from defending their turf. There’s several open locations in Carytown and they chose this location? It actually came back to bite them, as it cost twice as much to build out, took longer, and he had to tap more capital from family, and in true irony, slowing the business in the meantime. Also – SFrogs’ actions are seriously far from “ruthless” behavior, or tactics. Would you roll over as a business owner from someone doing the same business two doors down from you? They amped up the marketing. No one is breaking windows, accosting people,… Read more »
Oh, I don’t think they (Sweet Frogs) are being ruthless, I just question what they truly believe in.
This is a copy and paste from their website:
SweetFrog was founded on the principles of Christianity and our belief in bringing happiness and a positive attitude into the lives of our consumers. At SweetFrog, F.R.O.G stands for Fully Rely On God” and we hope to be an example of that in every community!
So are these actions in agreement with that stated philosophy? WWJD?
Maybe we should open a theater next to the Byrd, a French restaurant next to Can-Can, and a Mexican joint next to Nacho Mama. Seems like SF was protecting their turf, and rightfully so! It’s up to Yap to step up to the plate (or frozen yogurt cup) as they chose to locate so close.
Ben & Jerry’s tried twice to knock Bev’s out, and failed both times.
Only time will tell what effect Yapple will have on Sweet Frogs
At least Sweet Frog is competing and not just throwing a tantrum like Elwood Thompson’s did. Yapple’s Carytown location might be enough of an albatross to drag down their entire chain.
They need to add a “like” feature on this site, because Jakes comment is AWESOME! Sweet Frog should take one from Ellwood’s book and create a Facebook campaign against secular yogurt. I can see the signs now, “Don’t Secularize Yogurt in Carytown.”
Jesus is the reason for the freezin?
Jesus is the reason for the freezin? – that is awesome! Shelley, you should be in advertising.
That’s very true too. Good point my friend.
Why does everyone care where Yapple located? It’s a free market and the last time I checked it happens throughout the retail and restaurant industry (ex. McDonald’s and Burger King, gas stations, etc.) Yapple will only force Sweet Frog to be more customer friendly and we all win. Kids have already gotten costumed characters outside of Sweet Frog for a few days from Yapple’s direct competition, for example. As for Chris’ comments about a Mexican restaurant locating next to Nacho Mama’s, I’d fully support that idea. We need a Mexican restaurant in Carytown with good food. Nacho Mama’s only has… Read more »
I just don’t want a dude in a frog suit trying to solicit me as I walk down the street.
Keep your employees in the store. Both of you. Do that whole “whichever tastes better” think Lin was talking about.
Frozen yougurt isn’t even that good
With the long lines it was obvious there was more demand than they could absorb so it’s good to see some competition next door.
At this juncture, the real winner is……..
David Lartner & BizSense! 18 commments since 7:30 am; tremendous.
Great job on this & your continuing follow up of the never ending Justin Franch saga-also garnering significant reader participation.
Wow Michelle, the above article from the media failed to mention that Yapple pretty much did the same thing to Sweet Frog on its first day by standing in the front of SF offering samples of their yogart. Sweet Frog can believe in God and maintaining their profits at the same time.
Sweet Frog’s efforts have worked! They have convinced me to go in and try Yapple! 🙂
Sweet Frogs is a christian based company,but don’t confuse that with the business end of things.They also have a large investment,and most likely don’t appreciate a blatant attempt to take their business.If they just roll over and take it,they wouldn’t be very good business people would they?You have to question Yapple’s motive in choosing this location.
Time to short FroYo
It’s “Frogs Rely On God.”
So true, Roxanne. We should all realize that a competitive marketplace is a GOOD thing for consumers! My point: this IS a free market, so we can not blame SF for it’s promotional efforts on the competition’s opening day. What we, as consumers, should also not forget is that not all media is reported fairly, and doesn’t always include all relevant details – like Yapple also having employees pulling customers away from the sidewalk in front of Sweet Frog (I was there too – free yogurt, right?).
The whole thing reminds me of the “Bring it on in to Omeleteville!” sketch with Justin Timberlake on Saturday Night Live.
I want to see giant frog mascots singing and then tussling with Yapple mascots. Good fun!
I want them both to do well but.. I agree seeing the mascots having a tussle would be hilarious! Maybe we should propose that idea to both stores. Never know, that might make the fro-yo enemies shake hands and call it a day.
They could have open up 2 addition stores? so why didn’t they? Instead they chose to build where they did.. Why did they choose 2 doors down from the exact same competitior? They could have built in the next additon to carytown behind martina, Sweetfrog is different than bevs and at the other end of Cary which is why they both thrive. Ben and Jerry’s was the same as bevs and right next door, it was shameful of them to build where they did.people knew that and we voted with our wallets. I bet b&j would still be around had… Read more »
Amen. Lin went to great lengths to open *that* location – even taking on extra debt for the end result. Not a smart business move, IMO. This article does seem to paint YY as undergoing some sort of struggle against SF. SF has every right to have mascots, just as YY has every right to give out free samples. No single pedestrian is going to be shoved to the sidewalk and screamed at for choosing one location over the other. As for frozen yogurt, it’s friggin’ delicious and a much healthier alternative to ice cream in many ways. Finally, anyone… Read more »
You forget the old adage: “Q: Where’s the best place to build a restaurant? A: Next to an existing restaurant.” Nothing personal, just business.
For what it’s worth from a non-Richmonder, I can pretty safely say that I’d buy yogurt from the place that doesn’t feel the need to invoke Christianity to market its product. Cheapens religion to a large degree when, as here, it’s used as a marketing ploy.
Oh, and it’s Carytown. A shopping district. It’s not as if putting it block or two away would somehow change the competition dynamic. People are walking and shopping and will go to whomever has the best yogurt. Or would you expect Yapple to pick two remote locations with no shoppers and no foot traffic.
Is it odd to anyone that of all the articles they’ve done about the “yogurt wars” that they only report from yapple’s point of view. Seems a little bias maybe you should also get comments from sweetfrog and get the facts.. Its like watching fox news for all your political insight. You only get one side…. Uh oh! Did i just mix politics and religion?
I agree with the above poster that “the frozen yogurt is not that good”. I’ve only had it from Sweet Frog and I think it tastes like frozen ice milk. I think the real winner will be the one who adds soft serve ice cream or custard to their lineup. That is a lot more expensive than the crappy yogurt they serve now and would cut into their profits. All the toppings in the world can’t hide the fact that the yogurt is made from budget ingredients.
Finally a place for people to go when they don’t want to stand in line forever at the disco that is Sweet Frog! I will definitely take the place with a quieter atmosphere and the ability to actually walk in the door. You know, provided its good food.
Screw frozen yogurt, I am sticking with the Key Lime Pie ice cream at Brewsters…..
This comment section is hilarious.
Does this remind anyone of when Ben and Jerry’s was stationed 2 doors down from Bev’s? Richmonders supported the local shop. Will they remain faithful to the local choice again?
I am simply the person that stands behind the register when you weigh your yogurt. I am a student at VCU and to me it is just a part time job. I know nothing about the marketing scheme that the company may or my not have in order to try and win this “war” but I do know that I really like working for the company and would hate to lose my job because the same type of store opened up next door (not that I think it is going to happen) I am not religious at all but Yes… Read more »
Free market, free country. Competition is good and hopefully will raise the bar at both locations.
All that being said, I can’t imagine why folks take their frozen yogurt so seriously.
Do that many people really eat Frozen Yogurt? I don’t really care about the rivalry between the stores as much as I am fascinated that the economy can support so many Frozen Yogurt locations. They are all over Richmond now.
Goodness, yes tons of people love fro-yo! I personally like the parfait cups you can make at SF (layered fro-yo and toppings) but the line is so always so out of control that I refuse to wait. And If I do decided to wait, there is no way I could do the parfait; it would melt before I was done.
Actually Sweet Frog is a poor way to send their messege. If not for these posts I would not have known what F.R.O.G. stands for.
Hopefully Yapple does not have the same pick your poison , weigh it and pay it system.
Taste, better prices and service will trump gaudy cars and blocked sidewalks any day.
Otherwise the debate and antics probably help both.
yapple if you want to be competitive get a bigger sign, the alterations sign looks twice the size!!
Hopefully with two locations having a turf war it will drive the price of yogurt down!
I bought myself a new bracelet this week.
W.W.S.F.D (What would Sweet Frog Do?)
I would think both will do well. Sweet Frog has franchised out to almost every state now- that is massive growth very quickly. The Carytown store is (I believe) the original, so of course they are going to do what they feel they have to to keep the lines long. I don’t like the product at all, but the couple of times I have been in the stores they are are clean, employees are friendly, and it’s not expensive so there’s little to complain about. Aside from the fact that it’s marketed as healthier than soft serve and ice cream,… Read more »
My favorite and the most hilarious comment!
Shelley June 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm – Reply
Jesus is the reason for the freezin?
This whole comment section is far too cogent and cordial for Internet standards.
I love the Richmond business community.
A mutant twisted frog using god for profits and arrogant enough to believe they are your customers.
Please keep your religion in church or become a nonprofit and donate your profits to the community. Then you will have standing.
Otherwise, you are in a competitive business in a competitive culture. Live with it, cut your prices, send people next door to compare and see that your fro-yo is superior. Compete and stop being a twink or move to another location.
Why can’t a company claim their beliefs, Brad? Are you saying that you also wouldn’t support a Jewish-owned business who made their beliefs known to customers? Or what about local places like Diversity Thrift, who stand on a social issue? SF isn’t pushing their views on you, unless you think the Fully Rely On God t-shirt (which is one of 3 designs hanging behind the counter and the ONLY religious reference in the store) is too much. Doubtful. Why not be supportive of a locally owned business that is now growing to locations all over the country. I say, way… Read more »
I WISH YOU WERE MY SISTA
The “war” will most likely be won by the company with the best combination of product, price, and promotion. I hope Sweet Frog has more up their sleeve than dancing frogs on the sidewalk! There are many other ways in which Sweet Frog could counter Yapple’s opening but, in my opinion, they chose one which only served to increase awareness for the competitor. Case in point, I wouldn’t have known Yapple opened if it weren’t for this article…which wouldn’t have been written if Sweet Frog ignored them. I hope both businesses just stay focused on making a great product and… Read more »
Have been to Sweet Frog only once as both the product and the atmosphere were reminiscent of Chuck E. Cheese…..
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