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Frozen yogurt shops take off with more expansion planned in 2014

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Print this page by M.J. McAteer
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The frozen yogurt chain now has 300 stores.
Photo by Mark Rhodes

The proper name for a group of frogs is “an army,” and army is an apt way to describe the swelling ranks of one of Virginia’s biggest retail success stories in recent years, sweetFrog.

The frozen yogurt chain started as a single location in the Short Pump area of Richmond in 2009. Derek Cha and his wife, Annah Kim, believed that they could fill a vacant niche in the market, and they were right. 

In less than five years, sweetFrogs have appeared in 28 states, Great Britain and the Dominican Republic. The company now has 300 corporate, licensed and franchised stores (franchise fee: $30,000) with 82 in the Old Dominion alone. According to the company, in 2012 the average monthly net sales for a sample of its stores was $54,902. 

James Denison, who does public relations for sweetFrog, credits the yogurt chain’s phenomenal growth to two factors.

First, he says, it offers a quality product. Customers at the self-serve, sold-by-weight shops can pick from 20 flavors of frozen yogurt, ranging from tried-and-true chocolate to quirky maple bacon donut. The store’s 50 toppings include mango poppers, cheesecake bites and, of course, gummy frogs.

But just as important to the chain’s success, says Denison, is its family values. “Frog” is an acronym for “fully rely on God.” The sweetFrog chain puts that sentiment into action by participating in food drives and sponsoring charitable events. Mascots Scoop and Cookie visit children’s hospitals and make appearances at local fundraisers.  “We want to be there for our community,” Denison says.

That community continues to expand. The company now is marching into New England and the Great Lakes region and reportedly is eyeing South America for its next overseas theater of operations.

Kermit may have been right when he said that it wasn’t easy being green, but, for frozen yogurt entrepreneur Derek Cha, it can be lucrative.

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