Retail Merchandiser - September/October 2013 - (Page 40)

Retail nearly his whole life in the restaurant business. His parents were franchisees of Japanese restaurants on the West Coast, and Choi spent time with a startup hospitality group in Los Angeles. During that time, Choi took notice of the rise of Pinkberry and its self-service frozen yogurt concept. “That sort of changed the trajectory of frozen desserts in a retail setting,” he notes. With the guidance of a family friend who had been operating a similar frozen yogurt concept since the 1990s, Choi brought the model to New York City’s East Village neighborhood with the first 16 Handles location. The company started franchising in 2010, and today the chain has 38 locations in six states. Choi says 16 Handles intends to expand across the nation in coming years. Better Choices 16 HANDLES Hot and Cold Frozen yogurt is a hot commodity, and New York’s 16 Handles stands out thanks to its innovation and unique vibe. O Solomon Choi, CEO New York City 40 ne of the hottest trends in the retail foodservice industry right now, ironically, involves a cold treat. The rise of self-service frozen yogurt has been one of the most interesting stories to emerge in recent years, and between the established names and the mom-and-pop operations there are plenty of concepts all jostling for attention. 16 Handles CEO Solomon Choi understands this, and says it takes more than just setting up a few frozen yogurt machines and putting out a few toppings to stand apart from the competition. Fortunately for 16 Handles, Choi says, the brand has a unique vibe that sets it apart from imitators, and that plus its high-quality and innovative frozen desserts and snacks will help it expand beyond its home base in the Northeast. Choi started 16 Handles in 2008 after spending September/October 2013 Choi was far from the only entrepreneur to be inspired by the success of the self-service, pay-byweight concept. Indeed, numerous stores sharing a similar idea have sprung up across the country, something Choi says speaks to the many advantages of the concept in today’s marketplace. “I think with the introduction of frozen yogurt this time around, I think people are making better decisions when it comes to eating and snacking,” he says. Another key advantage to the model is how much customization it gives customers. Choi says giving customers as many options as possible is a clear driver in the retail world now, and 16 Handles and other frozen yogurt concepts like it offer customers the option to choose exactly what they want and how much they want to pay for it. “The self-serve model really promotes each individual’s choice,” Choi says. “Having those options under one roof really allows this model to serve the majority of the people.” Standing Out When 16 Handles first opened its doors five years ago, Choi says, there were nine direct competitors in the neighborhood, but today 16 Handles and one other competitor remain. Choi says that’s because 16 Handles does a lot to distinguish itself in the marketplace, starting with the quality and variety of its products. Where other competitors were content with offering either vanilla or chocolate, 16 Handles offers fat-free flavors ranging from New York cheesecake to non-dairy blood orange sorbetto to a low-fat pre-

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Retail Merchandiser - September/October 2013

Retail Merchandiser - September/October 2013
BLE 2013
Cyber Defense
Looney Tunes
The Biggest Loser
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
LeBlanc’s Food Stores
Clark Appliance
16 Handles
Cycle Gear
Wedge Community Co-op
All-Rite Construction Inc.
Radio Shack
Terraco Inc.
New & Notable
Focus on Convenience Stores
Bagels or Bookcases
Healthy Food
NACS 2013
Casey’s General Store
Monarch Custom Beverages
Craig Distributing
Nouria Energy
Maritime Farms
Speedy Q Markets
Parker Cos.
Orton Oil
The Linn Cos.
Tiger Fuel Co.
Architec Housewares
State Oil Co.
La Vie en Rose
New & Notable

Retail Merchandiser - September/October 2013