Yogurt joints seem to be the latest craze around town

By Emily Luxen

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -  Frozen yogurt is hot again. And stores featuring a self-serve concept are opening around the Birmingham area.

Lucas Gambino co-owns Tutti Fruitti in Homewood that's been open for about a month. He expects the store to be a success because customers love the self-serve idea.

"I think the concept is what sells it," said Gambino. "The ability for a customer to come in and serve themselves. They can decide what they want, put whatever toppings on they want.  I think that has made this concept take off."

Gambino said his store will separate itself from the others because of its wide variety of flavors and toppings including fresh fruit.

Retail expert, Mickey Gee, said that many customers are looking for healthy snacks. So the demand for the product is there. Gee said it is also a smart decision to open this type of store, even in the current economy.

"It has a very low threshold of entry, and it doesn't cost a lot of money," said Gee. "It's a simple retail business because the product is manufactured on site, so there isn't a lot of inventory."

Gee expects competition to be strong between the stores because there are so many options. And the ones that have a good product, good service, and good locations will survive.

Gambino hopes his store will be one of the successful ones, "We're nervous going in there because are so many stores coming in. But at the same time, we feel the good stores in the right location with good product will survive. We think we are one of them."

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