America's Top Franchise Brand Builders `Flip' Over Retail Niche in $20 Billion Industry
June 17, 2008 // Franchising.com // ATLANTA – The same group of major players who helped build such household brand names as Cold Stone Creamery, Moe's Southwest Grill and Nike have "joined toes" in a new franchise venture with powerful potential in a flip floppin' $20 billion industry.
Currently, fans of quality flip flop brands, such as Reef, havaianas, Roxy and OluKai, are limited to shopping either online or finding a rare few independent stores that carry their favorite brands, or a few select big box or department stores with narrow selections. Seeing the opportunity to fill a void, a group of well-known franchising experts created Flip Flop Shops and recently announced a nationwide expansion effort.
With seven successful U.S. locations already open, Flip Flop Shops is calling for 236 stores across the country within five years. Their mission is to provide the opportunity for anyone, in any climate, to "live, work and play with their toes exposed" while wearing the freedom of flip flops on their feet.
Once reserved only for poolside or beachwear, flip flops have grown to become the "global youth uniform," as well as accepted footwear for anyone ranging from surfers to high-level corporate executives. In fact, flip flop sales exceeded those of athletic shoes for the first time in 2006, and flip flop fever has continued to build momentum ever since.
"Flip Flop Shops was created to fill a void in the retail industry and to promote the flip flop lifestyle and culture," said the CEO Darin Kraetsch (size 10). "We are the first company to build a concept that capitalizes on the massive market potential of flip flops and sandals and take this area of a booming specialty retail sector mainstream," Kraetsch added. "We have a unique, spot-on concept and the right people behind its development. Now is our time to take the brand to the next level."
The first Flip Flop Shops store was opened in September 2004 by retail consultants and entrepreneurial spirits, Todd Giatrelis (size 11), and Sarah Towne (size 9). Flip Flops Shops began franchising in January 2007 under the leadership of Darin Kraetsch (size 10, the CEO), Alan Woods (size 11, the COO) and Brian Curin (size 10, the president).
The executive leadership boasts a combined 50 years of franchise experience building and growing some of the world's fastest-growing franchise concepts, category leaders and well-known brands. But if you go on their web site – don't expect the traditional headshot. In true Flip Flop Shops spirit, names and titles on the management team page are accompanied by none else than snapshots of their respective exposed toes.
"Flip Flop Shops is more than a store—it's a lifestyle," said Brian Curin, Flip Flop Shops President (size 10). "Our flip flops are an extension of who we are and what we stand for. There are droves of people just as passionate about freeing their toes as we are. By focusing on doing right by our franchisees, our consumers and the hottest brands we carry, we have been able to develop what is destined to become a breakthrough brand with cult-like following."
Even the smell and sound of each store captures the Flip Flop Shops laid-back, yet adventurous character. Approaching from 15 feet away, coconut suntan oil scent and active lifestyle inspired music begins to tickle the senses and excite the toes of likely customers. "No matter the weather, no matter the season, you will always find the "Free Your Toes" state-of-mind in every Flip Flop Shops," Curin said.
Flip Flop Shops has a mellow and free-spirit nature, and they look to award franchises to people who reflect their brand personality. Potential franchisees must share a passion for the flip flops way of life, possess an exposed-toes attitude, good sense of humor and solid business acumen. Kraetsch says the Flip Flop Shops culture also emphasizes charitable work and community, which means franchisees must follow suit.
Flip Flop Shops provides potential franchisees with an unusual level of financial disclosure early on in the discovery process, which empowers them to make a decision based on realistic revenue expectancy. Flip Flop Shops also provides new franchisees with comprehensive site selection built on a predictive model to set the location up for success. To reduce the stress of build-out, owners are sent a "store in a box" which allows a general contractor to follow the prototype effectively and efficiently.
Founded in September 2004, Flip Flop Shops is the nation's first retail chain exclusive to flip flops and sandals. The company began franchising in January 2008. Flip Flop Shops is an Environmentally Responsible Retailer and encourages the nation to free their toes. The executive team boasts more than 50 years of franchise experience building and growing some of the world's fastest-growing franchise concepts, category leaders and some of America's most well-known brands, including Cold Stone Creamery, Moe's Southwest Grill, Planet Smoothie Café and Shane's Rib Shack. With seven locations currently operating, the company plans to franchise 236 stores by 2013. For more franchise opportunity information, visit http://www.flipflopshops.com/.