By Christinia Crippes
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa
When ReShonda Young started Popcorn Heaven, she did not want it to look like a “mom and pop shop.” She wanted her gourmet popcorn and fudge store to feel like a place people had seen and heard of before.
Little did she know how successful she would be.
Ten months after Popcorn Heaven popped into existence near downtown Waterloo in February 2014, another store popped up in South Carolina. Then another. Then another and another. And more are on the way.
“I can honestly say I didn’t necessarily plan for it,” Young said of how she came to own a franchise operation.
Young says by looking like a franchise from the start, she attracted potential franchisees within three months of opening her Waterloo shop.
That business acumen leads people throughout the United States to buy into franchises. Customers look for the familiar, and would-be business owners aren’t always interested in reinventing the wheel to launch their endeavors.
For precisely those reasons, Gary Grace started a Jimmy John’s franchise in Waverly.
Grace knew from his son’s recurring debit purchases as a graduate student the restaurant draws regular customers, particularly in a college town.
And as a recently retired vice president for administration at Wartburg College, Grace wasn’t interested in “re-inventing the wheel” when he decided to go into business to diversify his retirement plan.
“I can’t really tell you why we chose to get into business, but it just seemed like something that would be interesting,” Grace said. “So far, it’s been fun, been a good investment and I think we picked a good brand.”
Grace’s intuition about Jimmy John’s turned out to be spot-on. The restaurant was the top franchise in 2016 on Entrepreneur’s annual Franchise 500 list.
Grace opened his first store in Waverly in 2013, and has since opened a store each in Waterloo and Cedar Falls with plans to open more.