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Swirl on New FroYo Shop: 'Doesn't Make Sense'

Peachwave plans to open a frozen yogurt shop on Forest Street next month, making it the third frozen yogurt place in a town that also has gelato and ice cream parlors.

 

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.

Pat Klapper April 01, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Couldn't agree more with Mr. Yi. It doesn't make sense for anyone to have three of these shops in our relatively small town.
Dave April 01, 2013 at 12:00 PM
My wife and I love swirl, Sonny and his wife are the nicest people you can imagine there product is one if the best i have ever tasted you can put as Many Fro Yo place up as you want swirl is where we will still go. Successful Businesses start with good People, Sonny and his wife,well simple great people , swirl is where we will go and Continue to go!!!!!!
Bar Dumbglen April 01, 2013 at 12:04 PM
What New Canaan really needs are more antique shops.
Kristen Goormastic April 01, 2013 at 01:25 PM
We LOVE Sonny and Swirl as well! If we plan on going out for "ice cream", Swirl is always our very first choice. Sonny couldn't be a nicer person.
runner62 April 01, 2013 at 02:50 PM
I would challenge the Town Govt and Chamber of Commerce to develop a master plan that addresses how many banks, how many frozen dessert shops, how many of this or that makes sense, address the parking issue, encourage diversity and family-owned business (to balance national chains and franchises). And work with commercial real estate owners to fill empty spaces. Seems like New Canaan doesn't have a master plan.
Jennifer Laurence April 01, 2013 at 03:36 PM
It'll be tough to top Swirl: great product, staff and always a neat and clean store. Don't worry, Sonny!
Siri Kloud April 01, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Totally agree w/runner62. We have a ridiculous amount of banks and we DEFINITELY do not need 3 frozen yogurt spots. I love Swirl and we are loyal patrons. I don't think "yet another yogurt spot" will only hurt Swirl - it will hurt Gelissimo. It's a shame.
Charlene April 01, 2013 at 04:13 PM
I'm surprised that the Peachwave franchise allowed this store location. With so much competition in the area, if the store fails it will reflect badly on the Peachwave company.
Holley Wright April 01, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Well said Charlene! ditto!
Esprit de Corps April 01, 2013 at 08:07 PM
There are many examples of successful master plans in history. The German Democratic Republic was quite adept at this sort of plan. Here is encouraging advice from its leader: “Let there be great enthusiasm for the plan throughout the entire republic that will overcome all obstacles. Let us join together to realize the Five Year Plan and bring our economy and our own living standards to previously unknown heights.” Walter Ulbricht Germany today is still influenced by this planning today even as its memory fades into history.
Paul M Potenza April 01, 2013 at 09:15 PM
I think it would be a very bad idea to give the Town the authority to dictate who gets to do business in New Canaan and who does not. Talk about kickbacks! Whether we are willing to admit it or not, we all know what government involvement does to an economy in the long run. I agree that Peachwave probably moved into that location to compete with Gelatissimo's great restaurant row proximity. I think banks are here because we have affluent people who need service and banks can pay the market based rent. We have a large number of dry cleaners because many people can afford it, we have we are losing office space and gaining medical space because doctors and hospitals are fighting ever harder for patient dollars. We have two pet stores in town now because I'm not sure why. We have 3 pizza places in town, and we have chain stores here because large corporations can afford a temporary loss in one location in order to eventually get market share. Peachwave may have the cash behind them to take a temporary loss. But, the free market will tell all in time. I am personally a fan of small business because regardless of the product, the customer service is generally superior and that is what small merchants need to focus on. I wish Mr. Yi the best.
MC April 01, 2013 at 09:57 PM
Mr. Potenza, you said everything I wanted to say, and probably said it better than I would have. Government involvement is rife with unintended consequences. Let the free market decide.
Charlene April 01, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Well said, Dr. Potenza.
Lauren April 02, 2013 at 09:35 PM
bring back Haagan Dazs!!
Lauren April 02, 2013 at 09:35 PM
just kidding. Mr. Yi it sounds like you have a strong following of loyal customers :)
art brown April 05, 2013 at 02:12 AM
i think swirl is great. i know the girls on the nc track team go there quite often after practice. very clean, well- maintained,pleasant staff. excellent product. mr. yi you have a dedicated following- keep it going!!! art brown

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