Spring 2015
Pretzel Franchise Round-up

Wetzel’s Pretzels

What better play on the Wetzel surname could there be than Wetzel’s Pretzels? Company founder Rick Wetzel remembers the kids at school used to call him “Wetzel the pretzel.” This moniker made an impression as a child and, years later, he and his business partner Bill Phelps turned this schoolyard tease into a business that now has more than 300 locations.

Of all the pretzel snack-food companies, Wetzel’s Pretzels has a sense of humor about themselves, and their corporate website reflects this spirit. According to Josh Levitt, Public Relations Manager, Wetzel’s prides itself on being the Ben & Jerry’s of their sector. “Both in our stores and at the corporate level, we are fun, hip and irreverent!” says Levitt. Wetzel’s has a tongue in cheek approach to social media by crafting messages to engage its followers. The company’s social media feeds are populated with The Words of Wetzel that express ideas like, “Every new car comes with cup holders. But pretzel holders? Hello?” and “It’s election day. Vote for the pretzelticians!”

Franchisees can select from a range of options, from inline stores (400 to 600 square feet), a 200-square-foot kiosk with off-site storage and the company is also willing to sell from carts and RMUs.

Wetzel’s encourages new product ideas from all its franchisees, which make for an enjoyable corporate culture. Last year, Wetzel’s introduced digital display menu boards with animated baker characters that take guests on a tour of the Wetzel’s Pretzels factory to show how some of its popular products are made. “This is a fun, engaging and brand-aligned platform that is a true category differentiator,” notes Levitt.

Wetzel’s strongest geographic footprint is across the West though they do have a national presence too. They are currently seeking multi-unit franchise operators in the following states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York,
New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio and Texas. The company looks for potential operators who have a restaurant or mall concept background. This Pasadena, California-based bakery chain was sold in 2014 to Levine Leichtman, a private equity firm.

wetzels_Exterior-Mall

Wetzel’s Pretzels
Total investment required: $107,500 to $256,000
Franchise fee: $35,000
Liquid capital required: $60,000
Royalty rate: 7%
Types of shops: inline, kiosk and satellite units
Number of locations: 300+
URL: wetzels.com/franchise-opportunity.htm

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Duffy C. Weir

Duffy Weir is the former vice president and director of specialty retail and marketing at The Rouse Company of Columbia, MD. Now an independent retail marketing and sponsorship consultant and writer, Weir travels the world searching for what she says "makes marketplaces tick." She can be reached at Duffyllc@comcast.net or 410.252.8885.
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