Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream manager Elizabeth Robinson stands in the doorway of the Steamboat Springs store in Wildhorse Marketplace. The store closed its doors Sunday. Robinson cited the location, the economy and a lack of local traffic as reasons for the business's failure.

Photo by John F. Russell

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream manager Elizabeth Robinson stands in the doorway of the Steamboat Springs store in Wildhorse Marketplace. The store closed its doors Sunday. Robinson cited the location, the economy and a lack of local traffic as reasons for the business's failure.

Ben & Jerry's closes

Manager: Bad location, bad economy


The local Ben & Jerry's ice cream store has closed its doors in Wildhorse Marketplace.

Manager Elizabeth Robinson said the store's last day in business was Sunday. Kerry Shea, property manager for Wildhorse Marketplace, said the closure is pending completion of lease negotiations, which are under way.

"We are in current discussions with the owner, with respect to the business," Shea said Monday. "They're currently under lease obligation."

But for all intents and purposes, the ice cream shop has scooped its last sundae.

"Bad location, bad economy," Robinson said about the closure, citing a lack of walk-in traffic and slipping sales. She became manager about six months ago. "It's sad for me because I really enjoyed this job. It was very hard to lay off all my kids."

Robinson said the local Ben & Jerry's employed five high school students, - her "kids" - some of whom were working their first jobs. But the store "didn't get much support from the locals," Robinson said, making it hard to survive year-round on summer tourism dollars.

Shea said there are three other vacancies - out of 17 commercial units, at current build-out - at Wildhorse Marketplace. The plaza at Mount Werner Road and Central Park Drive also houses Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas.

Wildhorse Marketplace focuses on food and beverage, entertainment and specialty or boutique retailers, Shea said. He said he was open to proposals for the Ben & Jerry's location, should the closure be finalized.

"We're keeping our options open," he said. "If things aren't resolved, we need to make sure we keep the health and vitality of the center at the forefront."

Across the way from Ben & Jerry's, local Quizno's Sub owner Tim Cooper worked through a busy lunch hour Monday. Although he said his business has been "80 percent off" peak numbers for the past two months, he said he's in no danger of closing his store and expects business to pick up after the shoulder season.

"You've got to make enough in the winter and summer to make it through these two months," he said, referring to mid-September to mid-November.

Next door to Ben & Jerry's, Bombay Grill manager Monty Bath said business at the Indian restaurant also has been "a bit slow" during the shoulder season. The restaurant is starting its first happy hour Friday in an effort to boost shoulder-season business, Bath said. Friday's event, from 4 to 6 p.m., will include a free appetizer for guests and drink specials. Subsequent happy hours will offer half-price appetizers, Bath said.

He said business at the restaurant has been "what we expected" since it opened last spring. Like Cooper, Bath said he is hoping a change in season brings a change in business.

"We're just waiting for winter," he said.

A large portion of Wildhorse Marketplace is blocked off for construction at the future site of Millennium Bank. Shea said the bank is scheduled to open in spring 2010.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 5 months ago

And Subway with the ice cream shop offered a similar product with a far lower overhead.


Dan Hill 7 years, 5 months ago

A store selling a high-priced premium product is always going to suffer in a recession when people are cutting back. Doubly so this one. I tried it once and thought it was massively over-priced. For the cost of one little scoop of ice cream I could buy a pint of a premium brand at the supermarket. Ben & Jerry's is good, but not that good.


Russell Orms 7 years, 5 months ago

i am local and i tried to support B&J. My first and only time i got a golf ball sized scoop for $4.50 !! if you are anywhere near the clark store in summer you get a softball sized scoop for $2.50 and it's called a small.


JLM 7 years, 5 months ago

It's George Bush's fault!


Why no bailout money for B & J? Why no TARP, HASP, ARRA, Porkulus $$$?

This is exactly what is wrong w/ America --- no support of small business.

Oooops, sorry! I thought they were an auto manufacturer.



MsRed 7 years, 5 months ago

Really, with cold and snow 4 to 5 months of the year, I never understood how they expected a Ben & Jerry's to survive here.

Would you go for ice cream or frozen yogurt on a day like today???


Kevin Nerney 7 years, 5 months ago

msred -- Perhaps because when Ben and Jerry started out in the '70's after trying to hit college towns in the south and other warm climates they settled on Burlington VT. (north and cold) as a headquarters. No competition. They only sell about a billion dollars a year of ice cream. On another note their CEO and upper escheoln's pay is based on a percentage on the lowest paid individual in the company. Maybe Wall St. should take heed.


Oshkoshgirl 7 years, 5 months ago

Maybe if they were open when people are around, like after the movies get out, they could have brought in business. Everytime I left an evening movie and felt like ice cream, the shop was closed. You can't always blame the locals for "not supporting" your business, you have to have some good business sense.


Jason Miller 7 years, 5 months ago

JLM Ben & Jerrys is not an american company.Those hippies sold it to the dutch for ALOT of money.


boater1 7 years, 5 months ago

dan hill, i agree. i went and bought a scoop early on when the first opened. it was sticker shock. after that i went to city market, around the corner and bought a whole pint for less. that location didn't help. you can even get a pint at sinclair a short walk away. maybe up near the base or downtown where the location helps with impulse buys. i'm surprised they lasted this long.


Paul Hughes 7 years, 5 months ago

If you'd ever been to the B&J factory/store in Waterbury, VT, or to any of their many great scoop shops, you'd know how good Ben and Jerry's can be. The one here was so far below their standards that I'm surprised it didn't close sooner.


MsRed 7 years, 5 months ago

I am just saying, maybe if they would have offered something other than ice cream, they may have had a chance- but I suspect Bed & Jerry's has rules on what their stores can & can't sell.

It is sad to see the 3rd business go down this week


lowclasslocal 7 years, 5 months ago

Not a good sign for any business. I would rather see a business whose owner lives AND works in the community do well. With a staff of 5 high school kids they aren't offering anyone a benefitted job so I see it as no real loss to members of the year-round-resident work force.


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