Over the next five years, Philadelphia-based snack franchise Philly Pretzel Factory says it will open five to 10 stores in the Charlotte area as part of its growth plan to become a national franchise.
Company president Marty Ferrill said on Tuesday the snack firm is planning to franchise stores in new markets, mainly along the East Coast. That includes seeking out new franchisees in Charlotte, where soft pretzel competitor Auntie Anne’s has five stores, according to its website.
Philly Pretzel Factory already operates a seven-year-old franchise in Mooresville, owned by Valerie Brang. Areas the company is considering for new locations include Mint Hill, Pineville, Matthews, Huntersville, Belmont, Concord, Hickory, Salisbury, Mount Holly, unincoporated parts of Mecklenburg County and Rock Hill in South Carolina.
The company is using a demographic software that gauges population, median income and road traffic to determine where best to station and exactly how many stores to open in the Charlotte metro-area, Ferrill said.
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“As you’re doing it and developing, you have to be smart,” he said. “If the market can’t justify that many stores, we just wouldn’t do it.”
The franchise, which has grown to 152 locations since its founding in 1998, opens stores in two ways: An in-store model that includes shops inside Walmart’s, amusement parks and train stations, and the traditional model that involves opening brick-and-mortar spots in strip malls and shopping centers.
Expanding into Charlotte will be deliberate and incremental, Ferrill said, adding that he’s aware pretzels are a “regional food.” He expects the first few area franchisees to be transplants from Philadelphia who “grew up with it, know the product (and) love pretzels period.”
“There’s always that risk with a regional type of food – are people going to accept it?” he said. “I personally think they will. It’s a pretzel. It’s a good pretzel.”
Each store makes its pretzels fresh daily and offers a variety of flavors that range from original salted to cinnamon to hot dog pretzels with various dipping sauces. Franchisee costs for the traditional brick-and-mortar stores are about $250,000, and $125,000 to $150,000 for the in-store model, Ferrill said.