Challenging Corporate

I opened my franchise six years ago, in a 1,000-square-foot strip mall space in Elmhurst, Ill. It was so small that during the holidays, when I had 15 workers cutting pineapple, dipping fruit into chocolate or designing arrangements, they were literally tripping over each other. As my lease was expiring, I found a landlord who was willing to share the cost of my buildout. But the new location was in an older building downtown, right across from City Hall, and corporate had a policy that franchises should be located only in shopping centers near anchor tenants. To convince corporate to make an exception, I took a bunch of photos of what’s up and down the block, on both sides of the street. I showed a theater, boutiques and big-name stores like Walgreens and Starbucks.

I also included photos of people walking by, so it could see how busy the foot traffic is. Corporate relented and I opened my new store in September 2009. It’s 1,780 square feet and designed so well that during that year’s bustling holiday season, it felt like we were a lot less busy. More people are stopping in, and business is up by almost 8 percent.

By Linda Ekendahl