Pinkberry tries for Davis location, with opposition
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 01:01
Following two failed attempts last year, national frozen yogurt chain Pinkberry will apply next month for the third time to expand to Somerville’s Davis Square with a new location.
Pinkberry’s application to attain a special permit is pending approval by the Somerville Zoning Board of Appeals at a February hearing, according to junior Sherry Albert, a former Pinkberry intern. The Board denied Pinkberry’s previous permit applications because of concerns about keeping Davis Square from being taken over by large chains, according to Albert.
Pinkberry has applied for space at 263 Elm St., the former offices of Massachusetts Insurance Agency, placing it within 320 feet of frozen yogurt sellers iYo Cafe and Orange Leaf and in close proximity to ice cream shop J.P. Licks. iYo Cafe and Orange Leaf both opened shops in Davis Square just last year.
Pinkberry sees a market for its allegedly unique and higher quality products as justification for opening a location in Davis Square, according to Albert. An online petition on iPetitions.com supported the opening of a Pinkberry location in Davis Square with 184 signatures. The company collected an additional 200 signatures in person in the square, Albert said.
Davis Square gets enough pedestrian traffic to support a third frozen yogurt shop in the area, Albert said, referencing studies done by Pinkberry in similar neighborhoods.
“Based on the foot traffic, there are actually plenty of areas in the U.S. similar to Davis Square that currently support three or more frozen yogurt or ice cream stores,” Albert said, pointing to Harvard Square and Newbury Street as local examples.
A Change.org petition to deny the permit application for Pinkberry in Davis Square had gained 36 signatures as of press time. According to the petition’s online page, the petition’s writers noted the area’s already-limited parking and argued that the square had no need for additional frozen yogurt outlets.
iYo Cafe employee Jesse Slade said she sees no place for Pinkberry to open a site in the square.
“Davis Square is in a small area with a lot of locally owned businesses,” Slade told the Daily. “At this point there’s iYo, which is a locally owned business, and then Orange Leaf just opened, so to have a third frozen yogurt place in such a small square would be a little ridiculous.”
Pinkberry has more than 170 stores around the world. Orange Leaf is a national chain whose Davis location is one of 31 in Massachusetts.
“Pinkberry’s such a huge chain,” Slade said. “They’re not only national but they’re in different countries, too, so I just think it’s too much for us in Davis.”
Pinkberry would present a challenge to existing yogurt shops in Davis Square as each vies to attract customers, according to Orange Leaf employee Derek Hughes. Orange Leaf and iYo differ from Pinkberry in that both offer a self-service model where frozen yogurt servings are priced based on weight. Pinkberry yogurt is priced according to a preset size.
“I think since we just opened, [Pinkberry] might be a little more competition,” Hughes said.
Slade said that small business supporters have argued that granting a building permit to Pinkberry in Davis Square would undermine local shops.
“I think the consensus is we want to keep Davis a small community and not turn it into Harvard Square,” Slade said.
Albert said the chain satisfies a demand that is not met by existing yogurt shops. If opened, the Davis Square Pinkberry location would provide wireless Internet access, open at 8 a.m. and offer breakfast options, according to Albert.
“I think that having a Pinkberry in Davis Square would be a really nice addition to the stores we currently have in Davis Square,” she explained. “I think it could be used as a great place to go with your friends, to relax or to study.”