There’s a bit of news on the frozen yogurt front in Wilton: not only can you buy Swizzles’ new, seasonal flavor, pumpkin, but you can buy the store as well.
“I am franchising Swizzles. What I’m looking to do is sell each of my existing stores as franchisees, to operate as Swizzles. That will pull me out of more of the operations part of the business and focus more on growing and building Swizzles as a company,” said store owner Adam Kessner.
Kessner started the Swizzles brand in 2011 when he opened his first two stores in Darien and Wilton; he now has seven locations, in CT, Westchester and Boston.
In addition to the new pumpkin flavor, he’s proud of the growing offerings at the Wilton location. “We just added a full candy store, with over 100 different types of candy and chocolates. People love that, well, at least the kids do,” Kessner laughs. “We’ll definitely be ready for Wilton’s Halloween Parade on Saturday.” Kessner likes hearing that Wilton loves Swizzles. “And I love Wilton!”
He’s tried to show that love by being an active supporter of local charities and organizations, hosting events and making donations.
“We’re all about supporting the community that we’re in. We want the community to support Swizzles, but we want to support the community as well. We take the time figuring out ways to do that. We offer fundraising opportunities for teams, organizations – they pick a 3-hour window on one day and 20-percent of all revenue during that time-slot, we’ll donate to that team or organization. So we’ve had the swim team, music organizations, lots of charitable organizations hosting events at Swizzles, it’s been great.”
Anecdotally, GOOD Morning Wilton has heard the story of Swizzles managers tracking down the organizer of a charity group to offer its help; usually it’s the other way around, where the non-profits have to seek out the help and ask for sponsorships.
Kessner acknowledges that he’s a bit antsy about the anticipated opening next month in Wilton of Peachwave, a national frozen yogurt chain that has 77 stores around the country. “They’re my arch-nemesis, opening a block away, which is an issue,” he said. “They did the same thing to me in Ridgefield, and knocked me out of business there. I just closed my Ridgefield store.”
The frozen yogurt and dessert market can be rough in a small town, and Kessner said competition just got to be too much, even after he’d expanded the Ridgefield Swizzles menu to offer salads and other healthy options. “I don’t want that to happen here.”
While Kessner believes Peachwave has a strategy targeting competitors—saying, “they’re not showing that they’re a good company,” – he stresses the Swizzles focus on charity, both locally as well as for an issue close to his heart personally.
“My family founded Steve’s Camp, a sleep-away camp, not-for-profit camp that hosts hundreds of inner city kids every summer. We started four years ago. We donate a fairly large percentage of profits to the camp. Steve’s my father.”*
Kessner hopes that anyone interested in franchising the Wilton Swizzles or any of the other stores will contact him at email@example.com. “Swizzles is franchising, you can have the opportunity to own a Swizzles.” The locations in Darien and Greenwich are among the locations available.
Personal editor’s note: I looked at the website for Kessner’s family’s summer camp, and it blows me away. It offers a life-changing experience for underserved New York City kids that are, according to the website, “facing poverty, gang violence, and a dearth of support services, [giving them] a fully funded trip to a beautiful working farm in Livingston Manor, 100 miles northwest of the city. Working with six hand-picked public high schools, we use a rigorous selection process to recruit up to 120 campers each year—for two sessions of 30 boys each in July and two sessions of 30 girls each in August. After camp, youth stay connected through ongoing alumni programming, while many are invited back each year as campers, counselors in training, and eventually as staff.”
To me, that’s worth a few trips to Swizzles for my family each month if I know a portion goes to support Steve’s Camp.