Miami Expo draws Latin America, foreign concepts
This year’s franchise expo in Miami Beach was tinged with a bit of sadness: This will be the last time in the foreseeable future Franchise Expo South will be held at the gateway to Latin America. Next year’s event will take place in Houston, and while it might make entrepreneurial sense, we have seen Houston, and it, sir, is no Miami Beach. But enough about the press’s point of view, especially those based in Minneapolis. Let’s move on to how the exhibitors fared.
Mike D’Arezzo and Werner Glass of CKE had leads from as far away as Hawaii and from investment groups with connections to Latin America, but headquartered in Miami. CKE, the parent company of Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s hamburger chains, is not for the average expo attendee because the investment level is high, D’Arezzo said. They exhibit to also promote the brand to consumers who will be on the lookout for the hamburger chain to come to their area.
In addition to the U.S.-based brands, there were a significant number of franchises exhibiting from other countries. Inbound franchises are a phenomenon that seems to be more and more common. Here are three international concepts we found interesting.
1. Grosvenor, London: This upscale shirt and accessory store has something better than the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. It can display the Royal Warrant, a seal that says they have been a supplier to the Queen of England’s household for five years. Although he’s not allowed to say who buys his wares at Buckingham Palace, owner Karl Dunkley will be adding the seal to his vivid blue-stripped shopping bags for an additional bit of class.
Karl Dunkley, founder of Grosvenor, a clothing store based in London, shows off the details.
Dress shirts, or city shirts, as Dunkley calls them, sell for around $200 to $300 each. The brand is known for its long-sleeved, collared shirts with small but unique details, such as one white shirt with a strip of plaid material down the front. There are father-and-son matching dress shirts, socks with colors that pop, non-conservative belts and elaborate paisley ties. All of the highest quality, Dunkley points out. The clothing is made in Grosvenor’s factory in Northern Ireland from fabric woven specifically for them. This is the first time Grosvenor has exhibited in the U.S. Dunkley is interested in the Latin American market, as well — where men “are not afraid of a little color.” He had considered just attending the show, but decided it made more sense to have a booth and receive better feedback.
Kevin Cho came up with the idea of building a better juice through his company, Beesket.
2. Beesket, South Korea: This is no glass-of-juice-poured-from-the-carton concept. It sounds confusing to describe, but when demonstrated by the inventor, Kevin Cho, it makes perfect sense.Customers are presented with a small, three-compartment “basket,” shaped like a honey comb, thus the name Beesket, in which to place three puzzle pieces that will be the recipe for your drink. The “beesket” is taken over to a computer at the counter, which gives you a screen shot of the calories and nutritional information of your selection before your fresh fruit and vegetable drink is squeezed. Drinks cost from $4 to $6, depending on what you fill your beesket with. Cho says he came up with the idea because he wanted a place where customers could build their own juice. After paying, you’re presented with a “scorecard,” a business-card size piece of paper on which you can rate your drink to show to friends. It’s a low-tech form of social media.
3. Vom Fass, Germany: The fast-food industry may be booming right now, but there’s also a slow-food movement that’s gaining traction, says Jeff Young of Vom Fass, a retail concept that sells the ingredients of a slow meal, from exotic oils such as pumpkin seed oil to single-malt scotches.
Jeff Young of Vom Fass offers a sample of olive oil to fellow exhibitor, Kathe Moore.
Vom Fass is German for “from the cask,” which is how the oils are sold. An adjustment the company made when coming to the U.S. was to form a sister company, Crescendo, which replaces the alcohol offerings with culinary spices. The reason? “Welcome to America,” Young says, the country of inconsistent state laws, especially liquor laws. Vom Fass already has 140 stores in Germany and was ranked the No. 1 retail franchise in Germany by Impulse, Germany’s franchise publication. The company ‘s President was studying in Europe when he saw the Vom Fass concept. He convinced his father to go into business with him, using his father’s retirement fund. As Young describes it, tongue in cheek: “He was longing to work with his father and to use his 401k.” Bottles—fancy for gifts, utilitarian for one’s own use—are filled from a cask in which a sealed bag is stored so no oxygen touches the product until it is decanted in the store. Spices are only available at the Crescendo model because their aroma conflicts with the scotches and liqueurs, Young says. Customers are people who value presentation over price.
Finding inventory is easy when you have a child outgrowing her stuff
Julie Tenenbaum’s 5-year-old is responsible for naming her second-hand store, Baby Posh Garage, but she’s not allowed to step foot inside the store until after hours.
Julie Tenenbaum sells used baby things, most of which has been used by her daughter.
“My daughter’s not a great salesperson,” Tenenbaum said at the recent Franchise Expo South. “Any time someone touches something, she says, ‘that’s mine.’”
And most likely she’s right. The grand opening merchandise was the overflow from what Tenenbaum bought for her daughter. A few days after her daughter was born, Tenenbaum’s mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. “So I started buying everything” a baby might need, “because I didn’t know how to be a mother on my own.” Friends warned her she was buying enough for a store. And that’s when the light bulb went on. The name for the concept came about because in order to get her infant to sleep, Tenenbaum drove her around in the car. Once asleep, the only way to keep her that way was to leave her in the car seat with the door open and a baby monitor nearby. The garage became the baby’s room, so Tenenbaum, a single mother, could work on getting her store open.
Her first store was a “shoebox location,” filled with “just my stuff,” she said. She’s since opened a second store, and began the franchise process when her customers demanded it.
The expo was her first show. “My FDD was ready 30 seconds before the doors opened,” she said.