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Fall 2013 This Ice Cream’s Hot!

Sloan’s launches franchising effort to expand nationally.

If the bold flavors and brightly colored décor is any indication, Sloan’s ice cream shop is definitely one that will stand out in a crowd.

That is exactly the distinction the ice cream shop will need as it launches a national expansion that will, hopefully, bring Sloan’s from four Florida shops to its goal of reaching 200 locations within five years. Sloan’s opened its first ice cream shop in West Palm Beach in 1999. That success was followed by a second West Palm Beach location, as well as stores in Palm Beach Gardens and Boca Raton. Since launching its franchising platform a year ago, the company has already sold 19 franchise locations with the first new store set to open in Delray Beach by November.

Sloans1Certainly, Sloan’s offers a great menu of tasty treats that is resonating with both customers and entrepreneurs. The usual cones, cups and sundaes are all centered around the company’s award-winning ice cream that is homemade right in the stores. But founder and president Sloan Kemenstein also wanted to create more than just the usual “run-of-the-mill” ice cream shop. “The stores are very highly decorated and have lots of fun details everywhere you look,” he says. Those whimsical details range from miniature toy trains running throughout the store to the clear glass restroom doors that frost over when the doors are locked. “There is a lot of detail throughout the store that makes it unique,” he adds.

Along with the standard chocolate chip and vanilla, Sloan’s also makes a point of offering unusual and unique ice cream flavors. Some of the favorites include “coffee and donuts,” which includes a light coffee flavor mixed with Krispy Kreme doughnuts, while “circus” features cotton candy flavored ice cream loaded with gummy bears. “All of the ice cream is made in small batches with the finest ingredients,” adds Kemenstein. In addition to ice cream, the store has a huge selection of toys, gifts and candy. “So, it is really much more than an ice cream store, even though ice cream is our focal point,” he says.

The company’s home market of Florida is a logical place to start franchise expansion. Fourteen of the 19 franchise locations already sold are in Florida with an additional five in southern California. However, Sloan’s expects to expand in the southeast, such as Atlanta and the Carolinas, as well as larger hubs including San Francisco, New York and Las Vegas. “Because the concept is unique, we want to focus on areas that are seen as the central hubs for fashion, excitement and what’s hot,” adds David Wild, Sloan’s director of franchising.

The typical Sloan’s store footprint is generally about 2,000 square feet, and the company prefers to find real estate in busy areas where there is a lot of foot traffic, such as large lifestyle shopping centers. The company estimates that its 2013 start-up franchise costs, including everything from franchise fees and inventory to real estate and operating capital, ranges between $600,000 and $900,000.

“We have had interest from the very beginning, which is the driving reason behind the decision to franchise,” adds Wild. “There are just so many people that have wanted to take it to Chicago or New York or Los Angeles.”

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Beth Mattson-Teig

Beth Mattson-Teig is a freelance business writer based in Minneapolis, Minn. She specializes in covering the national commercial real estate industry.

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