Fro-yo shop gives the cold shoulder

 

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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77 Comments on "Fro-yo shop gives the cold shoulder"

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Steve Cook
Guest

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.

Blake
Guest

Wow, that sure didn’t seem like a very ‘christian’ response from Sweet Frogs – what happend to ‘love thy neighbor’?

Anne
Guest

I will be interested to see how kharma takes on this situation….on both sides.

ScottB
Guest

I can’t believe Sweet Frog would resort to such a petty stunt. How disappointing.

Joe S
Guest

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.

Adrien
Guest

Poor Mitchem’s Shoe Repair, literally caught between Jesus and a hard place.

Andrew
Guest

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.

Veronica
Guest
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 »
Michelle
Guest

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.

Veronica
Guest

And touché…I stand corrected. They both are aggressively marketing.

Drew R.
Guest
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 »
Blake
Guest

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?

Chris
Guest

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.

Brian Glass
Guest

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

Jakes
Guest

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.

Andy
Guest

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.”

Shelley
Guest

Jesus is the reason for the freezin?

Doug
Guest

Jesus is the reason for the freezin? – that is awesome! Shelley, you should be in advertising.

Veronica
Guest

That’s very true too. Good point my friend.

RobinsonSt
Guest
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 »
David
Guest

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.

Ruben Foster
Guest

Frozen yougurt isn’t even that good

Brad Bonney
Guest

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.

Peter Bunin
Guest

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.

Roxanne
Guest

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.

Wayne
Guest

Sweet Frog’s efforts have worked! They have convinced me to go in and try Yapple! 🙂

Bruce
Guest

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.

Chris
Guest

Time to short FroYo

joseph price
Guest

It’s “Frogs Rely On God.”

Sara S.
Guest

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?).

Mel
Guest

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!

Veronica
Guest

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.

Chris
Guest
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 »
Rimbaud
Guest
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 »
jd
Guest

Bruce,
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.

Taylor
Guest
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.
Keith
Guest

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?

Tom
Guest

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.

Andi
Guest

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.

Jack Sonos
Guest
I agree that opening a store 2 doors down was far more aggressive than anything Sweet Frog has done. It’s an arrogant move and basically challenges Sweet Frog to a fight. It will be interesting to watch them battle for the top froyo shop in Carytown. I saw the Yapple store and it does look nice. I was kind of baffled at the cutsey mural on the window depicting a ram (VUC?) interacting with a much smaller teddy bear dressed as a spider/spider bear (UofR?). It almost seems like some sort of commentary on the schools maybe regarding size, strength,… Read more »
Brian
Guest

Screw frozen yogurt, I am sticking with the Key Lime Pie ice cream at Brewsters…..

Zach
Guest

This comment section is hilarious.

Monique
Guest

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?

sweetfrog employee
Guest
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 »
Phil H.
Guest

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.

Sean
Guest

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.

Veronica
Guest

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.

THEQ
Guest

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.

Ryan Moser
Guest

yapple if you want to be competitive get a bigger sign, the alterations sign looks twice the size!!

Ice
Guest

Hopefully with two locations having a turf war it will drive the price of yogurt down!

Dave
Guest

I bought myself a new bracelet this week.
W.W.S.F.D (What would Sweet Frog Do?)

Brian
Guest
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 »
Eric
Guest

My favorite and the most hilarious comment!

Shelley June 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm – Reply

Jesus is the reason for the freezin?

Mike Ogilvie
Guest

This whole comment section is far too cogent and cordial for Internet standards.

I love the Richmond business community.

Brad
Guest

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.

Sara S.
Guest
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 »
Penelope Palk
Guest

I WISH YOU WERE MY SISTA

Michael
Guest
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 »
Zach
Guest

HILARIOUS

Bobbie
Guest

Have been to Sweet Frog only once as both the product and the atmosphere were reminiscent of Chuck E. Cheese…..

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