The city’s burgeoning frozen yogurt industry, eight shops in all, will add about 100 jobs in Colorado Springs before the third quarter of 2011 is over.
The frozen yogurt craze has already swept the rest of the country. MarketResearch.com estimated frozen yogurt to be a $2.1 billion industry back in 2009.
The fad is a little late in coming to Colorado Springs.
Aside from TCBY, which originally opened here in the 1980s, iTopit was the first frozen yogurt shop to swirl into town and it didn’t open its doors on Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard until February.
David Begin, iTopit owner, said more than 250 people came to his job fair in January when he posted an ad on craigslist for yogurt shop employees. It’s a family business and Begin said it was tough for him and his wife and a few trusted colleagues to get through all of the interviews. While iTopit is a small, local operation, many have mistaken it for a national chain, Begin said.
“We’re a chain of two,” he said. “We take it as a compliment though when people tell us they think we’re a franchise. It means we did a good job of branding ourselves.”
Success at the shop prompted Begin to open another store on Powers Boulevard last month, where he hired 15 people.
Lulu’s Frozen Yogurt opened at Briargate Point on the northeast end of town with 19 employees in June. Most of them are young, still in high school or recently graduated, said owner Terri Lucero.
Nick Grzecka and his two sisters, all of them in their late 20s and early 30s, opened their first YoYogurt shop on Stetson Hills Boulevard in the spring and just opened their second a week ago on North Union Boulevard.
“When we started, we thought it was just going to be the three of us in the shop all the time,” Grzecka said. “But we hired a few people and then we hired a few more people and now it’s something that’s going to be good for the Colorado Springs job market.”
Grzecka said he and his sisters plan to open two more shops, one in Fountain and one on the south end of Colorado Springs.
Pinkberry, a national chain with more than 150 shops opened in Briargate this month. Pinkberry launched in 2005 and is credited by many for starting the new frozen yogurt craze.
Almost all of the 100 or so new jobs in Colorado Springs’ frozen yogurt market are part-time positions, typically filled by young workers.
And in some cases the shops have young owners, too.
Lexie Spiranac, 22, and Josh Mitchell, 23, plan to open Buttercup Frozen Yogurt next month on the first floor of the U.S. Olympic Committee building at Tejon Street and Colorado Avenue.
“We’ve been talking about doing frozen yogurt for a long time,’ Spiranac said. “We both really love Colorado. We grew up here and saw an opportunity to stay here and be successful.”
Their shop will be a little bigger than most of the others and will feature a business center and a slightly different feel, Spiranac said.
All of the new yogurt shops, and even the re-branded TCBY shop on Austin Bluffs, are decorated with brightly colored hip modern designs. They have funky-shaped chairs and pump out trendy music.
Buttercup, amid Class A office buildings, will be a little different. Spiranac said her shop will have a small business center.