By Jesse Stiller
The cool, modern atmosphere and scent of blended fruit at Frutta Bowls in the College’s Campus Town is calm, refreshing and tempting enough to make anyone crave a smoothie or a bowl. Across the street, the warm, friendly environment of the RedBerry Frozen Yogurt and Smoothie Bar has a similar aroma, attracting customers with bright colors and a clean, slick interior.
The only thing missing? Students, of course.
When winter break hit and students traveled back home for weeks on end, Campus Town businesses were deprived of business. Foot traffic slowed down and cold nights were accompanied by the silence of the vacant campus. While passing customers frequented the businesses, things just weren’t the same without the students.
When the spring semester began and students started settling back in their dorms, the stores of Campus Town were ready for new business, products and surprises. Frutta Bowls and RedBerry are ready to make this semester one of their most successful yet, introducing new menu items and promotions to students.
Branching out from their typical selection of fruit bowls and smoothies, Frutta Bowls is offering something unexpected to attract new customers.
“We’ve actually added soup to our menu,” said Debbie Scalabrino, owner of Campus Town’s Frutta Bowls, sharing that the new offering was a permanent fixture to the store. “We have butternut squash and beef barely in stock and we rotate that with other soups such as cream of broccoli.”
Scalabrino also added that, on the first day students came back, they had sold out of the cream of broccoli and the butternut squash.
“The first day that the students were back in school, Monday, we were busy,” she said. “When the kids are in school, we definitely have more business.”
Frutta Bowls first opened in campus town in September of 2018, and Scalabrino said that the business did well over the break despite the lack of students during that period and has been a consistent popular spot for students.
“We have a very loyal clientele that includes students and those around the community,” she said. “We knew one year that this was gonna work.”
In an effort to reach out to more students on campus, Frutta Bowls is offering fundraisering opportunities to all organizations at the College for a period of four hours at a time, giving 20 percent of the profits to organizations.
While Scalabrino said that the franchise had very high ambitions for the semester, she added that the location was able to pay off all of its bills last semester, which was what she described as “a miracle.”
Frutta Bowls seems to be bracing for success with their new soup line, and across the way, Campus Town’s RedBerry and its owner, Art Havier, is also expressing optimism, but in a slightly different way.
“A lot of our sales has to do with the weather,” Havier said. “If the weather is nice then we’re busy, if it isn’t then it’s slow.”
The location opened in 2016 and has been no stranger to success. Winter time is usually Havier’s slowest time of the year, but thanks to the warm weather over this past winter break and increased fanfare, the business fared well even without the students.
In addition to the fair weather, Havier’s approach to advertising has mainly focused on promotion for campus events and other areas in the community.
“When we do want to talk to the students… or promote to them… I put something on Snapchat,” Havier said. “We do promotions where sometimes a specific dorm gets 10 percent off. We’ve been a part of community fest for the last two years, as well.”
In an effort to reach new customers, RedBerry ran a promotion for the recent David Dobrik event in which a student could take a selfie at Kendall Hall and receive 10 percent off.
If there’s one thing that’s obvious in both stores, it’s that Campus town is ready for the return of students and ready to attract both old and new faces. But for such seasonal stores, too many cold and rainy days can be detrimental for business.
“As long as the weather is nice, I’m a happy camper,” Havier said.