No other state saw a housing bubble as bloated as California’s. And no other state’s economy has deflated as fast or as far. Among the many left gasping for air are people who want to open a franchise. California franchise registrations from January to April 20 were off 21 percent from the same period last year, reports the Sacramento Bee. The problem, not surprisingly, is credit. Loans for franchises nationwide are down 40 percent from last year. You hear a lot these days about ex-execs starting franchises. But it seems the reality is that franchise hopefuls without a golden parachute will have to wait awhile to get their plans off the launch pad.
Vultures circle defunct restaurants. The Wall Street Journal noted an interesting trend recently: restaurant franchises swooping down on out-of-business competitors to open branches of their own in the same place. They can convert the locations to their brands much quicker and cheaper than if they started from the ground up. And they can drive a hard bargain with landlords. Of course, this only works if the company is doing well and has money to expand. Like Burger King, which is taking over a number of old Starbucks locations. We can’t wait to ask for an order of “venti fries.”
Franchise of the week. The Eternal Ascent Society guarantees you’ll go to heaven when you die. If not your soul, then at least what’s left of your body. This idea is the brainstorm of Clyde and Joanie West, who own a balloon shop in Crystal River, Florida. You give them the ashes of your dearly departed, they put a “memorial amount” in a 5-foot biodegradable helium balloon and let it go. The balloon rises into the sky and 6 miles up it freezes, crystallizes and disseminates the ashes hither and yon. You can hold a ceremony or Eternal Ascent will launch your loved one for you. There are now five franchises of this business scattered across the U.S. If you’re interested, you can reach the Wests through their website.