Sonny Yi said he knew when he and his wife opened Swirl frozen yogurt on Cherry Street two years ago that, in time and especially if his business succeeded in New Canaan, the market for the popular dessert would become oversaturated.
What he didn’t count on was that it’d happen so quickly. Last week, Edmond, OK-based frozen yogurt purveyor Peachwave received approval to renovate 11 Forest St. and plans to open its own shop there next month. That’ll make three frozen yogurt shops in town, with Swirl and Red Mango up on Elm Street. Peachwave, to sit roughly opposite Gelatissimo Artisan Gelato, will include summer outdoor seating (see aerial and plans here), also joins a local frozen treat market that includes Baskin-Robbins.
Yi, a Norwalk resident who opened the independent yogurt shop here after owning and operating a cleaners in his hometown city for 10 years, said he understands “business is business.”
“But what happens is, you start splitting up that pie in so many slices, all you end up doing at the end of the day is being a distraction and nobody really prospers, and that is what I see happening here,” Yi said. “There now will be three frozen yogurt places here and it doesn’t make sense from a customer standpoint or a business standpoint.”
Peachwave could not be reached for comment. The company’s website says it has 66 locations, and it’s launching several in Fairfield County, where it already has a shop in Ridgefield. Wilton and Westport locations are planned for this year, the website says.
Mike Hoover, a Queens, NY resident who is one of three partners that owns the Red Mango franchise on Elm, said the arrival of competitors is part of the industry.
“You can’t really prepare for this type of action,” he said. “You have to focus on what you do best. We definitely do not frown upon anybody, we respect everybody going into business. We need to concentrate on our product and that’s really all we can do. We’ll see what happens.”
Hoover’s is one of about 200 Red Mango shops in the United States, he said.
He added that he and his two partners—both from Westchester, NY, he said—“love New Canaan.”
“We love the people there. We love the town,” he said. “We’re just happy to be there.”
Yi called New Canaan a “very quaint, beautiful New England community” that is about families and individually owned businesses.
“We want to fit in with this town, with this community,” he said.
In any successful business, competitors pop up and that’s just reality, Yi said.
“I understand that you are now going to give customers more options, three different options,” he said. “But to me we are offering the same product. This isn’t like pizza places, where the product from each one can be so different.”
Peachwave is one of a few businesses expected to open downtown this spring and summer, along with Vineyard Vines on Elm Street and a locally owned bike shop on Park.