Thursday, November 30, 2023

Tasty Treat played nasty trick on ice cream lovers

Customers looking for a treat might be in for a trick when they return to the spot of a favorite East Lansing ice cream shop.

Tasty Twist opened its doors in a new location, 1137 E. Grand River Ave., this spring after spending more than 50 years in the same Grand River Avenue location. But the choice to move wasn’t voluntary, as the owners of the property and its adjacent Citgo gas station, 1301 E. Grand River Ave., told Tasty Twist owner Scott King the classic-looking ice cream shop would be torn down to expand the gas station, King said. Shortly after moving out of the old building, a new ice cream shop named Tasty Treat opened up with a strikingly similar blue awning and font. The owner of Tasty Treat could not be reached for comment.

The new Tasty Treat might be trying to replicate the formula of success used by the established, family-run Tasty Twist. But setting up shop in the same location with a name only three letters different seems more than a little deceptive. Keen-eyed ice cream shoppers might be aware of this ruse, but this clearly appears to be a plan to profit off of the established customer base that Tasty Twist had built in its 50-plus years of service in that location. Any conscientious ice cream consumer who cares about supporting local businesses should frequent Tasty Twist at their new location, assuring the owners that customer loyalty is as strong as ever.

This situation might be different if Tasty Twist went out of business and the new shop was a tribute to its years of service. But there really is no excuse that justifies Tasty Treat blatantly copying the exterior of Tasty Twist, especially after forcing the owners out after expressing the plan to tear down the original building. They say that imitation is sincerest form of flattery, but this isn’t flattering to anyone — it’s downright stealing.

If the property owner’s plan to tear down the building was real, why open up another ice cream shop?

Citgo’s property owners said that Tasty Treat was opened to help pay the bills for property. But an ethical business should work hard to establish the customer base and provide a quality product. Tasty Treat might not be stealing ice cream or money, but it is stealing customers — which can be just as unethical.

Out-of-towners and new students might not be aware of the stories behind the two soft serve shops and have no loyalty to one or the other, but Tasty Twist and its owners know thousands of loyal customers have their backs. When the shop was unaware of what was to become of the store in the winter, more than 11,000 people joined a Facebook group dedicated to Tasty Twist. And more recently, there have been active campaigns to alert customers of the change in location, so they won’t be confused by the similar branding of the two shops.

Anyone who supports a long established business and doesn’t want to aid a rather deceptive ice cream endeavor should avoid Tasty Treat and enjoy their ice cream at the new Tasty Twist location.

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