Saturday, July 14, 2007

Coldstone creams Baskin Robbins?

I have to admit - ice cream was the last thing on my mind this afternoon.

We were busy getting supplies for the project of the day. Mr S. and I were discusing how the check-out times at stores never seem to be proportionate to the number of items you buy. Buying fewer things almost never seems to get you out of a store quicker.

When we got to the car, I noticed that a Baskin Robbins store had a big "out of business" sign in front of it. This surprised me since this store had been active the whole time we lived in this city. But it got me to to thinking. Had Cold Stone Creamery finally caused a tipping point for Baskin Robbins?

So when I got home, I started poking around the Internet to see if other stores were closing. The first thing I found interesting was... Baskin Robbins stops giving franchise growth after the year 2005. That is never good. Right?


The other thing that was pretty interesting is that has reviews for both Baskin Robbins and Cold Stone Creamery.

By far the biggest complaint against Cold Stone is the price. Even so, it seems like Cold Stone is causing enough competition to start putting Baskin Robbins franchises out of business. Even worse - Baskin Robbins has tried to undergo a face lift that will probably spell doom for a lot of franchises.

The Arizona Republic.
"Franchisees foot most of the remodeling bill, paying $50,000 to $100,000 or more to upgrade their stores, said John Carlson, Baskin-Robbins' director of franchise services for the Southwest. The company assists with advertising and also kicks in some cash, he added."

That's a lot of ice cream.

Oddly enough, when Cold Stone first came to my city - I refused to go for months and months. My theory was "ice cream is ice cream - you can't do that much to improve it". Over time I relented. But mainly because it got annoying dealing with teenage staff who would rather talk on the phone or to the other workers in the store, than serve customers. The lines may be longer at Cold Stone, but the time it takes to get in and out is about the same.

I've never been back to Baskin Robbins since. Just goes to show that when customers have a choice...maybe business isn't as good as you thought it was.


  1. I'm a big Baskin Robins fan myself. Hello, Mint Chocolate Chip, Espresso and Cream, Grape Ice. That was a huge treat when we were kids. Cold stone? Meh. I find the portion sizes too large, and all that crap you add makes it over sweet and too rich. I know I'm in the minority, Sarge loves it. A waffle cone the size of his head filled with some kind of strawberry cheescake thing, he's all over it.

    I did notice the overhaul remodeling at the one near us. Kind of did that Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC, Baskin Robins to BR kind of thing. Would they have overhauled the workers while they were at it, I would imagine it would have been money well spent. I agree on the lack of customer service.

    It really does not matter to us in the end, but we get crazy looks when we go to Cold Stone and our daughter only wants vanilla with rainbow sprinkles. Sprinkled on, not mixed in. What can I say? It's her favorite, and she's a freak!

  2. God, I hate Cold Stone. I also like to just have ice cream. The first time I went in, I ordered pumpkin ice cream. The guy didn't believe me that I didn't want to put anything else in it. And that shit's expensive.

  3. I've never tried Cold Stone, but I think you might be onto something. Their stock has certainly been doing well. I haven't followed it closely, but they did some kind of a spin off, that made people money.

    I think part of the problem is that francisees aren't as sophisticated as a corporation and can't react as well to changes. If they were more business savvy to begin with, they wouldn't need a parent company, in order to operate a successful ice cream store. It's not like ice cream is all that high tech, there are no barriers to entry. Branding means something, but I'm not sure that I'd give up a percentage of my revenue for a business model that anyone can figure out how to operate.

    It would be interesting to see what Baskin Robbin's real numbers are. It's too bad they are not publicly traded. I bet that you are right that they are getting squeezed by Coldstone's growth.

  4. "and all that crap you add makes it over sweet and too rich. "

    MDG - Yeah, I totally know what you mean. Last time I went to Cold Stone I flew to close to the sun, and now I've been off ice cream.

    But.. um.. You know they have small cups. Right?

    "And that shit's expensive."

    Monicker - That's the most animated I've seen you be here. Love it!

    "Their stock has certainly been doing well. "

    Davis - Are they public? When you said it, I thought I had remembered them going public, but their site still says they are private. Its summer anyway. That will bump the price, as you know.

    "I bet that you are right that they are getting squeezed by Coldstone's growth."

    I just get totally fascinated with consumer trends. Seems like there are so many tiny examples of the network effect in consumerism. Trends move so fast. Which is a good thing. It scratches my ADD.

  5. So today we decided to get some ice cream, which I had been craving since you posted this. We went to Maggie Moo's, I'm not sure if you have it in your area. It's a "cold stone" frozen marble slab kind of place. I actually like it alot because it is really mellow, the workers are nice and quick, AND they are not required to sing a song when they get a tip. Piko gor her usual vanilla w/ sprinkles (on the top, not mixed in), Sarge got the waffle cone as big as his head. I got a coffee chocolate almond mix kind of thing, it was *meh* not enough coffee flavor.

    ANYway, it was nice, a good mix between BR and Cold Stone. And the girl working let me get a kid sized cone, which was great.

    And anyone in the Richmond area, I highly recommend "Gelati Celesti". Yum yum!

  6. Baskin Robbins ice creams is very popular in the whole world, I can say that it is the top most ice cream shop which has plenty of franchisees.

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