Battle of the Berries
On April 8, throngs of people lined up outside of Pinkberry’s recently-opened clear glass doors to get a taste of the company’s frozen yogurt. New to Cambridge, the store had already begun drawing patrons the night before its official debut by giving away free samples.
Its arrival challenges Berryline’s monopoly on the frozen yogurt market. Now it is no longer the only store in the area that primarily sells the dessert option touted as healthier than ice cream.
While community members are excited about the new arrival, many are wondering if the local market can sustain two frozen yogurt stores.
THE BERRIES’ BEGINNINGS
Berryline was one of the first tart-yogurt shops in the entire state of Massachusetts, according to co-founder Matthew A. Wallace.
Since its inception, Berryline has prided itself on catering specifically to the Harvard Square market.
“We were both studying in the area,” says Wallace of the choice to open their first store on Arrow Street. Wallace was enrolled at MIT and the other founder, Pok “Eric” K. Yang, was at Harvard.
“As students, we were always hanging out here so we wanted our store to become part of the large student community here,” says Wallace.
“Many of the shops that are popular on the West Coast have that city-like, busy hub feel,” Yang adds. “[However], we wanted to be like your local coffee shop or local small business.”
Pinkberry, on the other hand, has cultivated its reputation worldwide. Its first store opened in West Hollywood, California in 2005 and it has since expanded to multiple locations all over the United States and internationally in countries including Canada, Bahrain, and Qatar. A 2007 “Fast Company” article once declared Pinkberry “the most famous” brand of yogurt within the United States.
Founded by restaurateur Shelly Hwang and architect Young Lee, Pinkberry has prided itself not only on the taste and variety of its yogurt but also its unique brand-name experience. The 2007 article reported that, as a result, Pinkberry has been careful in its expansion to select locations that appeal to its high-end image.
COMPETING FOR THE COMMUNITY
By providing buy-one-get-one deals for specific events, supporting various student groups, and speaking at different Harvard events, Berryline has actively engaged with the community since its arrival in Harvard Square in September 2007. In addition to established relationships with college students, Berryline has forged ties with other area businesses as well as local artists, whose pictures hang on the walls of the store.
“We always love making new connections with people in the area. Berryline is local, genuine and real, and we hope it shows in both our product and our customer service,” says General Manager of the Arrow Street Berryline Min-Young Hwang.
Given the company’s knowledge of the area, the business has never felt the need to advertise, according to Wallace.