Business Basics

MORGAN LEGEL | Columnist

Graeter’s, a Cincinnati-based ice cream chain, opened the doors of its Indianapolis location in early February. Has this had an effect on the local, small business Broad Ripple Ice Cream Station?

I ventured to both ice cream shops this past weekend and found my answer.

Upon arriving at Graeter’s, I could not find a place to park. The parking lot and street were full, so I had to park across the street. Once inside, I noticed a few families, but the main presence was college-age students.

Broad Ripple Ice Cream Station, on the other hand, had a relatively open parking lot where I could easily find a space. It also had two families inside, but that’s basically it.

I can remember walking into BRICS before the opening of Graeter’s and seeing all my fellow college students there. Obviously there has been a change since the chain has opened, but why?

For starters, Graeter’s has a much more accessible location in terms of being near Butler’s campus. Why drive to Broad Ripple when there is a much closer location that serves pretty much the same thing?

I think variety has also served as an influence. Graeter’s has approximately 32 flavors of ice cream, and BRICS has about 23.

Junior Rachel Soberman said Graeter’s clearly has a better location and better taste.

“I like Graeter’s because their ice cream is really good, better then BRICS even,” she said. “It’s also a little closer which is nice. I have gone two times in March alone.”

Some would say this is just another example of a chain coming in and stealing business away from the small business. However, I do not believe that is the case here.

Small businesses sometimes lose out because they cannot keep up with the prices that the large chains have. The prices at both shops are virtually the same, so this does not appear to be a factor in choosing one or the other.

Something else chains have on small businesses is advertising— they have more money and can do more. But I have not seen advertising for either recently, so I don’t believe that this is a factor either.

The truth is, this appears to be just an outcome of a better business strategy. Graeter’s has taken into consideration its location and what the public demands.

For lack of a better explanation, it is human nature to want to get the most you can with the least amount of effort. Graeter’s is closer and has more variety, giving students from Butler the most with the least amount of traveling and effort.

The solution for this does not lie in Butler’s student population, however. It lies in the business plan with the store.

If BRICS is unhappy of the new surge of customers to Graeter’s, find a way to bring customers in.