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Top 25 Retail Franchises to Watch in 2017
These are the top 25 retail franchises to keep an eye out for in 2017.

The retail franchise industry is vast, and it fills many different consumer needs. From brands that offer furnishings, electronics and garden equipment, to clothing, gifts, books and music, this booming industry offers just about everything a person could need. There are even retail food franchises, which include food and beverage, retail bakeries, liquor stores, and gas stations with convenience stores attached.

“When I look at these brands, you can’t help but notice they all fill a unique consumer niche,” Pat Perkinson, the COO at Wild Birds Unlimited, explains. She has a combined 40 years working in the retail industry and offered 1851 some insight on what the future might bring.

“The retail industry itself is undergoing so much change with the omni-channel approach and online influence to consumers,” Perkinson explains, “Customers are going to demand more from delivery and expect to receive products when they want them.”

Perkinson also believes that it’s important for franchises to flow with these changes in the industry. Here are 25 brands that are already following suit with these advances.

7-Eleven

Unit Count: 60,000 stores in 17 countries

Investment Range: $37,200 - $1,635,200

7-Eleven has become the No. 1 convenience store in the world and is constantly ranked as one of the top 10 franchisors in the U.S. by a handful of publications, including the Entrepreneur 500. Their constant innovation and resources for franchisees make for an efficient store environment and initial set-up for success.

Ace Hardware

Unit Count: 4,900 locations in 7 countries

Investment Range: $272,500 - $1,561,500

Ace is the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative in the world. Their net income was $63.4 million for the second quarter of 2016, an increase of $3.5 million from the second quarter of 2015. This is the second highest jump in the company’s history. This year, Ace was also ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Home Improvement Stores Ten Years in a Row,” by J.D. Power and Associates.

GNC

Unit Count: 8,300

Investment Range: $37,200 - $1,635,200

GNC has been rated as the No.1 Vitamin Retail Franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine 25 years in a row. They continue to grow nationwide with more than 8,300 retail locations in the United States and 50 international markets. GNC has become an industry leader within the health and nutrition industry by fulfilling consumers’ need to “Live Well.”

The UPS Store

Unit Count: 4,800+

Investment Range: $159,224 - $434,521

The UPS Store is the world’s largest franchisor of retail shipping, postal, printing and business service centers. In the third quarter of 2016, international operating profit went up 14 percent to $576 million, achieving the seventh consecutive quarter of double-digit growth in the company’s history. Along with that, average daily package volume grew 5.7 percent in the U.S. compared with the same period last year. That’s more than double the 2.5 percent year-over-year growth in the second quarter.

Aaron’s

Unit Count: 2,000+

Investment Range: $283,270 - $852,820

Aaron's is a recession-resistant appliance and furniture retail franchise that specializes in leasing-to-own as well as rent-to-own services. Products include: brand-name residential furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and computers. In the second quarter of 2016, revenues increased 2.6 percent to $789.4 million compared with $769 million for the second quarter of 2015.

Edible Arrangements

Unit Count: 1,300

Investment Range: $196,610 - $327,810

Coined as the “Freshest Idea in Franchising,” Edible Arrangements specializes in fresh fruit arrangements, melding the concept of fruit baskets with designs inspired by the floral business. They have 82 percent brand recognition that’s fueled by national TV and digital marketing in the United States and Canada. The company makes over $497,000 in average gross sales and has a 15 percent new store growth rate in the past three years.

Circle K

Unit Count: Over 8,500 locations around the world

Investment Range: $211,450 - $1,601,500

For the past 60 years, customers have come to recognize the convenience and quality associated with Circle K, a fuel and food convenience store chain founded in 1951. In September 2015, it was announced that all Statoil, Mac’s and Kangaroo Express convenience stores would be converted into the Circle K brand by the end of 2017.

Matco Tools

Unit Count: 1,700+

Investment Range: $89,229 - $267,810

This retail franchise manufactures and sells tools to the automotive repair industry. Matco Tools’ product catalog includes more than 13,000 different tools. Over the past three years they have had 12.2 percent growth after acquiring 202 more units. The company has been ranked the top Mobile Tools distribution company for the past five years by Entrepreneur.

Miracle Ear

Unit Count: 1,300+

Investment Range: $119,000 - $287,500

Miracle Ear is the nation’s largest retailer of hearing aids. This is a franchise that consistently ranks in the top 50 franchise operations by Entrepreneur Magazine. Over the past year, Miracle Ear has grown 3.9 percent, gaining 49 units.

Budget Blinds Inc.

Unit Count: 1,000 units in the U.S., Mexico and Canada

Investment Range: $99,240 - $202,070

Budget Blinds offers a variety of brand name and exclusive product line window coverings and holds more than 30 partnerships with different manufacturers. Franchisees provide an in-home consultation, measuring and installation along with a No Questions Asked Warranty on all of its products. The company has grown 10.4 percent over the past three years, gaining 105 new units.

Batteries Plus Bulbs

Unit Count: 700

Investment Range: $211,552 - $406,759

Batteries Plus Bulbs is a franchise that sells and recycles batteries of varying size and voltage, and in 2014, they rolled out a nationwide cell phone and tablet repair service. The franchisee support and the success of the Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise owners has led to them being named as one of Forbes Best Franchises in America for a third straight year. The company has an $1,347,376 average store net revenue and $229,000 average annual pre-tax profit (EBITDA).

Plato’s Closet

Unit Count: 450

Investment Range: $238,100 - $398,300

This retail franchise specializes in gently used teen and young adult clothing that follows current fashion for the season. Plato’s Closet is a top ranked franchise opportunity throughout North America. Over 30 percent of the company franchisees own multiple locations. In 2015 they made $1,454,415 in average gross sales.

ampm

Unit Count: 1,000

Investment Range: $400,509 - $7,807,883

This franchise is a combination gas and convenience store, offering a large variety of snack food and drink items. The company resides along the West Coast and is ranked in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 at number 108 because of its ongoing franchisee support, field operations, regional advertising, in-store promotions and TV and radio advertising.

EmbroidMe

Unit Count: 300

Investment Range: $89,433 - $213,985

EmbroidMe is the world’s largest promotional products franchise. The company began in 2000 and has rapidly grown in the United States, Canada and Australia. The brand’s goal for 2016 was to double growth numbers from 2015 at 30 new store to 60. EmbroidMe has emerged as a leader in what is estimated to be a $600 billion worldwide advertising industry.

Wild Birds Unlimited

Unit Count: 300+

Investment Range: $125,978 - $199,172

This franchise is dedicated to bringing people and nature together by offering proprietary backyard bird feeding supplies and seed. Wild Birds Unlimited is ranked No. 1 in the retail category by Franchise Business Review for Franchisee Satisfaction and 144 overall on the 2016 Franchise 500 list.

Pet Supplies Plus

Unit Count: Over 350

Investment Range: $550,400 - $1,307,400

The pet supply industry is expanding at a 6.5 percent year-over-year rate, giving Pet Supplies Plus a huge advantage in the nearly recession-proof industry. With over 25 years of experience in the pet retail franchise industry, Pet Supplies plus provides their franchisees all the support needed to succeed.

Hobby Town

Unit Count: 150

Investment Range: $147,000 - $317,500

This retail franchise sells hobby-related merchandise, including games, toys, remote control cars and planes, and model airplanes. The company is a leader in the retail hobby and specialty toy industry. This year, it was announced that AMain Performance Hobbies will manage and execute hobbytown.com online merchandise, sales and ecommerce fulfillment.

Fleet Feet Sports

Unit Count: 200

Investment Range: $180,000 - $338,000

Fleet Feet has become one of the most successful athletic apparel franchises after ramping up expansion efforts over the past three years. The company successfully launched an e-commerce platform in 2014 and continues to grow at a steady pace, with a 15 percent growth rate just last year.

Clothes Mentor

Unit Count: 142

Investment Range: $198,000 - $297,000

This brand focuses more on an older demographic for gently used clothing and accessory resale. This is a young franchise brand that is growing quickly over the past nine years. The Average net profit for the top-performing stores was $283K in 2015.

Wireless Zone

Unit Count: 382

Investment Range: $128,000 - $393,500

The Wireless Zone franchise system is the largest independent, carrier-exclusive, wireless retailer in the country. The company is the only branded franchise in the mobile device retail space. Wireless Zone is at an advantage because of the consumer behavior in the industry: by 2017, the number of mobile devices is expected to reach 10 billion. And on average, Americans buy new cellphones and smartphones every 22 months.

Flip Flop Shops

Unit Count: 90

Investment Range: $174,300 - $279,500

Franchising since 2007, Flip Flop Shops sells a wide variety of comfortable footwear. Flip Flop Shops has strong potential for 2017, and it’s expected to double in size. They have plans to launch a new ecommerce platform, utilize Super Kiosks and release a new line of flip flops called The Everyday California.

Color Me Mine

Unit Count: 140

Investment Range: $134,300 - $174,800

With over 20 years of franchise experience, Color Me Mine is the leader in contemporary ceramics and the industry’s only international franchise. The company is rated at number 323 on Entrepreneur's 2016 Franchise 500.

Flower Tent

Unit Count: 80

Investment Range: $30,850 - $69,600

Flower Tent’s goal is to become the leader in the seasonal retail flower business throughout the United States. The company has locations open in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia. They have moved up on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 500 Franchises list from #406 for 2015 to #319 for 2016.

The Spice & Tea Exchange

Unit Count: 50+

Investment Range: $190,450 - $291,650

The Spice & Tea Exchange has a unique shopping experience with a solid mission of, “Creating & sharing the experience of a more flavorful life.” The company is now nationwide, spread over 26 states and the District of Columbia. The Spice & Tea Exchange has grown 14.6 percent over the past three years.

ProSource Wholesale

Unit Count: 150

Investment Range: $565,301 - $592,566

ProSource is a franchise in the $300 billion home improvement industry. The brand is unique in that it serves trade professionals, which currently dominates with a 63 percent market share versus the DIY segment, which represents the remaining 37 percent. The company has grown three percent over the past three years.

 

 

 

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