Frozen Yogurt Wars?

October 16, 2008

San Carlos clearly has a taste for organic frozen yogurt, or “fro-yo” as it's called.   Since Harmony Yogurt opened on Arroyo Avenue, it has become a favorite stop for many families (including mine) who are willing to shell out a premium for a healthier alternative to ice cream.    On warm evenings, you can count on there being a line out the door.   This has been great news for the owners of Harmony, who are a local family — they saw a niche and filled it.

But success breeds competition, and this story involves a competitor setting up shop on the same block.   Red Mango, like its competitor PinkBerry, is a nationwide chain that specializes in…you got it, organic frozen yogurt.   Last week, Red Mango opened up a very attractive storefront on Laurel Street, right between Starbucks and “the-store-soon-to-be-known-as-Bianchini's.”   But that puts it on the same block as Harmony.   Does this makes the intersection of Laurel and Arroyo “Yogurt Corner?”

The City of San Carlos sure seems to take a “hands-off” approach when deciding where businesses can establish their roots (that is, unless you're a Thrift Store wanting to open on Laurel…different story, thank goodness.)   How else can you explain how a town the size of  San Carlos has three Starbucks locations, with two on the same street?   But hey, that's what a free-market economy is all about, and healthy competition is good for everyone.   In theory, consumers get more choices and better service, while owners who provide the best of both are rewarded with more business (are you listening, Home Depot??)

I'm certainly not against Red Mango opening up in San Carlos — in fact, I plan to check it out next time we do a family yogurt run.  I just hope that when the soy settles,  there will be two yogurt stores still thriving, not just the big national chain.   It's a similar concern I had with the fate of Plantation Coffee Roastery when Starbucks starting sprouting up.  Thankfully, Plantation retained its recipe for success and kept its loyal customer base, and it seems to be thriving.

The difference here is that yogurt is a treat, while caffeine is, well, a…requirement shall we say.   So let's hope Harmony can indeed find harmony with its new neighbor.  While it's up to Harmony to adapt to the new competition, I hope San Carlos consumers will continue to support the little guy.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to get my coffee….

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