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The word “franchise” conjures up visions of fast food chains like Subway, McDonalds and Burger King. Flip Flop Shops, however, is a newer retail franchise chain that is putting surf sandal brands in locations across the globe, where they sometimes wouldn’t get exposure.
The franchise recipe appears to be working. In the last two years, the company, headed by partners with lots of experience opening restaurant franchises, has opened 30 shops with 54 other locations in lease negotiations, build-out or in the process of opening. The stores are in Canada, USA, and St. Marteen in the Caribbean. It also has stores in Guam and in Hawaii.
The company aims to have 236 shops by 2013.
We got a chance to talk to Brian Curin, the President of Flip Flop Shops, about his involvement in the industry, sandal trends and how his shops fit in the $20 billion sandal sector.
Two of my business partners, CEO Darin Kraetsch, and COO Alan Woods, and I were the original guys behind the growth of Cold Stone Creamery.
We had traveled around the world while developing the Cold Stone Creamery brand and system, and then moved on to develop and grow Moe’s Southwest Grill into the number one Tex Mex franchise chain in North America. We also had Planet Smoothie and a bunch of other concepts along the way.
After Moe’s Southwest Grill was acquired, we wanted to build a brand that fit our lifestyles and would allow us to be in the industry that we all have a passion for.
All of us grew up in the action sports world doing everything from motocross to wakeboarding, snowboarding to surfing, and we said we wanted to do a business that allowed us to dress the way we wanted to while “Freeing Our Toes,” our company motto.
I walked into an already existing Flip Flop Shops in Scottsdale, Arizona four years ago.
It was really a mom and pop, with white slat walls and just a few brands. We talked to the owners about taking the store to the next level.
At the time, there were only a few shops. We kept the previous owners on as partners, but rebranded and redesigned the whole concept.
We did a lot of research on who we wanted shopping in our shops and what we wanted it to be like, and built the new concept all around our target consumer. We launched the brand in 2008.
We are in 20 states -- heavy in California, Texas, Florida, the Carolinas, in the Northeast, Vancouver and Edmonton in Canada, Guam, Hawaii, and we just opened a shop in St. Marteen. Every shop is typically located in a fairly iconic location.
For example, we are in Universal Studios/City Walk, Mandalay Bay and Fashion Show Mall on the Vegas Strip, West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in North America, Waikiki Sheraton and in Santa Barbara we’re on State Street.
Wherever we open, we are in THE spot. We are also gearing up for some airport locations.
All are franchised, except our Irvine Spectrum shop. Early on, when we entered into the action sports industry, we found that a lot of people didn’t know what being a franchise meant.
It’s not that much different than a chain account, but the bonus is, you have people who have invested $200,000 of their own money into opening their own shop versus having a company manager run a store that someone else has financed, so they are heavily vested into making it work.
See Page 2 for Flip Flop Shops' franchisee requirements, 8 core brands