I didn’t see it coming. They crept up on us, stealthily, and suddenly every storefront in town was invaded. My town already had six ice cream shops and a TCBY. Was there really a need for more frozen desserts? For several entrepreneurs, the answer appears to be yes.
The first frozen yogurt shop, Blush, appeared out of nowhere in a busy shopping center just across the border in the next town. Then an independent shop opened downtown. And another. And another. By the end of September, two more had opened within the city limits. In a three-mile radius from my home, there are more than a dozen places that sell frozen desserts, and only three of them are chains or franchises. The rest are independent small businesses who have put their life savings on the line to be their own bosses.
While I have my favorites, each has its own unique benefits, and owners who are committed to the long hours required to make this kind of business work. But there’s simply no way that the local economy can sustain all of these shops, especially as the hot days of summer are behind us. I expect to see the first of the closures happening sometime after the first of the year, each becoming a statistic that blames the closure on the economy rather than the obvious culprit, market saturation. I just hope that some of the individual owners will take a step back, look at things objectively and ask themselves if a town of 60,000 residents could really sustain that many similar businesses, even in the boom years.