Wilmington, North Carolina, is a hot spot for franchise business opportunities.
Recently ranked by NerdWallet.com as the second best city to start a business in the U.S., Wilmington features an active consumer market, an environment that supports the franchise model and plenty of former executives looking to become their own boss.
’s Chris Suggs works with residents throughout North Carolina to help match them with business opportunities. He said through the last six months, he has seen an uptick in franchisees targeting Wilmington.
“It’s a growing market, but it's not too big. It's still got kind of a small town feel to it," Suggs told Star-News Online. “I think with the growth out toward Leland and up to Porters Neck and out toward (Interstate 140), I think the trend's going to continue.”
Gene Santovenia spent more than 20 years working in corporate real estate for some of the U.S.’s most recognizable franchise brands. As the grind of traveling took its toll on Santovenia, he began to consider his options that would allow him to stay local.
“I wanted to get into my own business where I wasn’t traveling and on the road all the time," he told Star-News Online. "I looked at different franchises, but I've always been a road warrior, so to speak, so I didn’t want something with retail.”
Santovenia and his wife Elaine researched their options, and the couple ultimately settled on The Cleaning Authority
, a mobile cleaning business that provides them the freedom they were looking for in a brand.
Among the franchises targeting Wilmington for brand expansion is GYMGUYZ
. The at-home personal training service currently has one southern location in Georgia, but founder Josh York said they are eyeing Wilmington for further development.
“We’ve had a lot of leads from North Carolina,” he told Star-News Online of Wilmington. “It’s just a great area for our business to feed into. ... What it really comes down to is that just the area in general -- you have the university there, you have a lot of open fields for classes, a lot population density. Density is the key.”
Another franchise that sees potential in Wilmington is Palm Beach Vapors
. Co-owner Chip Paul said one thing that separates their brand from other franchises is the majority of their franchisees are young women. Paul said he’s hopeful to develop in the area because he’s a fan of the city.
“It’s like the perfect kind of situation as a business owner because you have a low-rent retail, but a very, very high profit margin,” he told Star-News Online. “We want a store in Wilmington—it’s important to us. We like that area and we want to come visit the owner.”
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