YoLove Frozen Yogurt under The Varsity apartment complex closed in late March, becoming the first business in that area to shutter because of a lack of customers.
YoLove, a self-serve frozen yogurt and toppings shop, opened last spring next to Royal Farms. But the business struggled with competing ice cream and frozen yogurt vendors, high rent and a lack of parking, said city economic development coordinator Michael Stiefvater.
Frozen yogurt is a “tough business,” Stiefvater said. In College Park alone, YoLove competed with Yogiberry next to Ratsie’s Pizza on Route 1, Cold Stone Creamery in the College Park Shopping Center, Rita’s Italian Ice near The Enclave apartments and Sweetgreen under the University View — many of which were more established and offered similar products.
“Landlords just said they didn’t do as well as they were expecting,” Stiefvater said. “It’s tough where they are. I know it’s a different product a little bit, but they have Rita’s not too far away and a much easier parking situation.”
Unlike most of its competitors, YoLove had no parking lot or spaces other than the few metered spots in The Varsity’s parking garage. Several students said unless a friend lived at The Varsity, it was difficult to get to the shop.
“As an on-campus resident, I would never find myself going to the View area for frozen yogurt,” said Haley Gibert, a sophomore marketing major. “[From] Montgomery Hall, I’m not going to get off the Orange [bus] to get on the Blue [bus] just to go to YoLove.”
Compared to Yogiberry, which opened four-and-a-half years ago on Route 1, YoLove didn’t offer anything especially unique, said junior Domonique Reed.
“There was nothing about it that stood out,” said Reed, a public health major. “I remember it not being as good, like the fruit wasn’t as good, the toppings. I only went once, and I never went back.”
Though Reed lives at The Varsity, she said she’d still always choose to travel farther to Yogi-berry rather than go to YoLove.
“I wouldn’t even think of going to [YoLove],” Reed said. “Even if I wanted frozen yogurt, I wouldn’t think of going downstairs for it. I would go to [Yogiberry].”
For Yogiberry, business is going well, said Kairat Umurzakov, a manager at the shop. Though business fell a little recently during the cold weather, Yogiberry was almost unaffected by the competition over the 10 months since YoLove opened, Umurzakov said.
“Yeah, of course some customers went to YoLove,” he said. “But the regular customers who care about the taste or who love the options of the yogurt — they prefer to choose us because of the taste of the yogurt. … We have more flavors, and we change them all the time.”
Yogiberry offers 10 yogurt flavors — including its staples of chocolate, original berry, Oreo and taro — in addition to many seasonal flavors such as mango, pumpkin pie and watermelon.
Yogiberry’s lighting is “really cool,” said Gilbert. At YoLove, “the atmosphere wasn’t as welcoming,” she said.
YoLove’s hours of operation also confused some students, such as junior biology major Sequoia Austin.
“The one time I did want to go and I was on my way, I turned the corner and it was closed — on like a random time, at like 5 [p.m.] on a Sunday,” Austin said.
Though YoLove shut its doors because of a lack of business, the other establishments under The Varsity are doing well, Stiefvater said. Austin Grill Express, a Tex-Mex restaurant, closed because of a corporate issue last April.
In the next few months, YoLove’s former landlord will search for a replacement for the shop, Stiefvater said. And later this summer, Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt will open on the ground floor of Domain at College Park, a retail and residential complex under construction near the traffic circle intersecting Campus Drive and Mowatt Lane.
For some students, however, Yogiberry will always be the place to go.
“You can’t just come in and think you’re going to be better than Yogiberry,” Gibert said.