Tartberry owners Doug and Valerie Schmitt have created something truly special. Their downtown Portland self- serve frozen yogurt shops, Tartberry, Inc. (915 SW 9th Avenue) in the Cultural District and Tartberry Too near Portland State University (536 SW College Street), have a whimsical, colorful and adventurous ambiance that takes the experience far beyond a treat spot—it’s a place to connect and be uplifted. Follow the footprints, create your own outstanding master- piece, spend time with your loved ones, get inspired by the aphorisms painted on the tables and walls, then grab a sticky note and pen to leave your own thoughts behind. Enjoy!
Tartberry has such a positive vibe. What is your approach in creating the unique energy of the shops?
Valerie: I think the way to make people feel uplifted is to make sure the environment is fun and welcoming. We wanted Tartberry to be different from your average cookie cutter dessert shop. Doug: We tried to capture what we felt around us, which is Portland. We are in the cultural center of downtown Portland, near Director Park and Portland 5 Centers for the Arts. We splash it with as much warmth and color as we can. It’s fun to see how that can convert people to happiness.
How did each of your backgrounds lead to your creating these magical frozen yogurt shops?
Valerie: I ran a community dental clinic, so I had small business experience. I also had some other small businesses in Portland, and I have a teaching background.
Doug: Valerie was a passionate dental teacher and was recognized for her success with students. The positive affirmations that are painted all around Tartberry, Inc. are from Val’s teaching days—every morning she would give her students a positive quote. The quote that is painted on the wall—“Kindness and laughter translate in any language”—was her teaching motto. The customer comments on the sticky notes have evolved over time. They are sometimes very emotional and moving—reunions, graduations, marriage proposals, recovering from illnesses, etc.
My background is in public accounting, so we had a strong small business background. I am also a real estate broker. When the real estate market turned in 2008, we responded by trying to be successful while doing something fun—and it worked!
What do you hope customers experience when they come to Tartberry, Inc. or Tartberry Too?
Valerie: We want them to experience love, laughter and kind- ness; and to feel that they have had the authentic Portland experience. And a yummy treat! Sometimes our customers are beaming with pride about their froyo creation.
Doug: We know we are successful when we can hear back- ground laughter, singing along with the playlist, etc. It’s about so much more than a $5.00 dessert.
What is coming up in the future for the Tartberry shops?
Valerie: New products! We always have non-dairy and sugar- free options, but we have also added frozen custard, gelato and Italian ices. Watch for new toppings, as well.
What is your favorite frozen yogurt creation/recipe?
Valerie: Original tart with fruit and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Doug: I have mood swings. I go from lots of chocolate to no chocolate. Right now it’s all about bananas on custard with cashews and whipped cream!