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Party Line: Franchisee vs. Independent - How the other half lives

If you’re in this business as a retailer, you’re most likely either an independent store or a franchisee. Whichever you may be, you’ve most likely wondered what it’s like to be the other.

Some of you have experienced both ends of the spectrum, just like the owners of this month’s Shop Talk feature, Michelle and Reed Chambers. The Chambers started as a Party America franchisee and later become one of Party City, when the latter purchased the former. However, since 2009, their store, Party America Acworth, has been independent. (There are a few dozen independent retailers around the country that still don the Party America name.)

Michelle Chambers said her family — husband Reed and two daughters also work at the store — enjoys the freedom of being independent, including being able to carry the products they feel fit their market as opposed to having to carry what the parent franchisor mandates.

It’s not unlike being a McDonald’s franchisee, I would imagine. While the menu may vary ever so slightly by geographic location — they serve biscuits and gravy at some southern McDonald’s locations — if you are a franchisee, you know you’re serving Big Macs, Quarter Pounders with Cheese and McNuggets, no matter what.

On the flip side, uniformity does come with what some advantages, such as data and information that would be hard for a single storeowner to collect. Chambers also noted better pricing from vendors, but quickly added that being part of a buying group (Paper First Affiliates, in her case) has helped alleviate the extra costs.

All in all, it was interesting to Chambers’ experience from both aspects. We hope you enjoy.

Until next time,

— Zeke Jennings, managing editor

Originally posted Monday, Oct. 3, 2016

Tags: party line