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Cottage Grove Yo-Joe’s to close at end of December

Laurie Levine said business at her Yo-Joe’s shops in Cottage Grove and River Falls, Wis., started well but slowed down. “We just aren’t making it,” she said in announcing that she’s closing both locations. (Bulletin file photo)

The fro-yo craze that heated up Cottage Grove last year might be losing its cool.

Yo-Joe’s Frozen Yogurt and Coffee Shoppe owner and co-founder Laurie Levine announced Monday the closing of both the Cottage Grove and River Falls locations, citing the inability to financially break even.

“We just aren’t making it,” Levine said in an interview. “We just aren’t getting the customers in the door. The ones we do have are amazing but it just isn’t enough.”

The Cottage Grove location, 8711 East Point Douglas Road, opened in April 2012 followed by the River Falls location in August 2012. Levine said she had a passion for business and an investor that believed in her vision. And after a successful first month, Levine said she thought the stores would make it.

“The first few months we were here (in Cottage Grove) we did awesome,” she explained. “But after that we never had a month where we broke even. I’m just at the point now that I cannot ask my investor to invest anymore.”

The self-serve frozen yogurt shops offered customers a variety of specialty flavors with dozens of toppings that let patrons create their own concoctions. The stores touted the “freshest green fair-trade organic arabica beans” in their coffee and promoted their meeting space at the Cottage Grove location.

Along with help from the city, Levine, a member of the Economic Development Authority and the Chamber of Commerce, said she used every outlet to promote and market her business.

“I’ve done so many marketing events and worked with the Chamber and put myself out there and was involved in everything I could,” she explained. “But people are simply creatures of habit. And we are a small business and sometimes small businesses just don’t get that flow of people that we need to support the store.”

The River Falls location closed Sunday, a decision Levine said was difficult.

“From a business standpoint, I should have closed both stores (Sunday) but I wanted to give the community an opportunity to use the purchased gift cards,” she said. “It was important to me to close with grace.

“Both communities are the reason why I really stuck around as long as I did,” she added. “It’s going to be terrible to lock those doors at the end of the month. It wasn’t an easy decision but sometimes in business you just have to make decisions.”

The Cottage Grove location will remain open until Dec. 31 and all gift cards and coupons will be honored.