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Lakewood frozen yogurt company, Black Bear, plans rapid expansion

Post by Kathleen Cooper / The News Tribune on Oct. 23, 2012 at 10:40 am |
October 23, 2012 1:02 pm

A Lakewood-based frozen yogurt and coffee shop has announced plans to expand from three stores to seven by January.

Image courtesy of Black Bear Frozen Yogurt & Coffee in Lakewood

Founded in 2010 by Jesse Roberge, Black Bear Frozen Yogurt & Espresso operates two stores in Lakewood and one in Yakima. In the next few months, Roberge plans to open four more stores: at Lakewood Towne Center, Tacoma Place Shopping Center, Southcenter Square and in Puyallup.

“During a downturn, we’ve found that consumers are still interested in little luxuries such as frozen yogurt and espresso drinks, especially if they’re provided with great customer service,” Roberge said in the release. “Both of those factors have been key to our ongoing success.”

The company also has started work toward offering franchises in 2014.

I’m trying to get in touch with Mr. Roberge and will post more here as I learn it.

UPDATE, 1:00p: Mr. Roberge shared more details about his expansion plans.

He and his wife, Christina, founded the company. They’ve brought in a partner as well as secured a bank loan to help finance the additional four stores. Roberge estimates each new store will cost between $290,000 and $330,000 to get up and running.

“We’re not going through the small business administration for the loan, even though it’s a tough financing climate now for growing businesses,” he said. “We have a strong concept. (Our lender is) excited about doing it.”

Roberge also gave details about the locations of the new stores.

  • In Puyallup, it will be in South Hill near the new Buffalo Wild Wings, across the street from the Regal movie theater and Safeway.
  • In Tacoma, it will be at the 72nd Street shopping center near the new Winco.
  • In Southcenter, it will be near the Nordstrom Rack.
  • In the Lakewood Towne Center, it will be in the parking field next to Target and the movie theater.

The expansion also will be funded partly from profits from the three existing stores, which he and his wife built on their own, Roberge said.

“We boot-strapped the whole thing at the bottom of the economy. We were freaked out. But entrepreneurs take risks,” he said. “Sometimes you have to just pull the trigger.

“We’ve never operated out of the black. We’ve never lost money. We’ve put everything back into the business,” he said. “We opened up Black Bear with a champagne appetite on a beer budget. We had to look bigger than we were. Now we’re right on.”

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