An Alternative to Franchising – Our Interview with Ice Cream Co-op KaleidoScoops

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[length: 36 min – 50 MB]


Are you interested in opening an ice cream shop and want some guidance, but don’t want to go the franchise route? Then you MUST listen to this interview! We spoke with Greg Ziolkowski, President of KaleidoScoops, an ice cream co-op.

History of KaleidoScoops

The KaleidoScoops concept was born back in 1999 when a group of Baskin Robbins franchisees were told that Baskin Robbins was scaling back and they would no longer be associated with Baskin Robbins. This occurred in many smaller markets as Baskin Robbins decided to focus on the larger markets.

These franchisees still had inventory and had invested in their stores. They could no longer advertise as Baskin Robbins and were left thinking “What now?”. The group of franchisees banded together to form a co-op.

What is KaleidoScoops?

KaleidoScoops is not a franchise. All KaleidoScoops stores contribute to the co-op and everyone has a say in the company. Currently there are 35 stores nationwide. As part of the co-op, you are an individual store and you run your business the way you want to without having to report to a corporate office. You don’t have to have the same floor plan as everyone else and you don’t have strict rules to follow like a franchise.

The benefit of opening a KaleidoScoops store versus an independent store is you have a network of support when you want it. KaleidoScoops can help owners find suppliers of equipment, help with marketing ideas, assist with recipes using the Premium ice cream served at KaleidoScoops stores, and more.

Another reason some people choose to open a KaleidoScoops shop is because the cost is much smaller than a franchise. To open a KaleidoScoops shop, all you need to pay is a $3,000 membership fee and dues of $650/year. There are no marketing fees.

KaleidoScoops encourages store owners to be creative and to be in charge of their own destiny. Store owners have an opportunity to join the board of directors, which is strictly made up of store owners, and participate in annual meetings. They are also encouraged to sell other items besides ice cream. Store owners are responsible for their own business, however, KaleidoScoops board members will help with reviewing financials, marketing plans, and planning.

Greg also offered some advice for ice cream shop entrepreneurs. Like many of our other interviewees, his best piece of advice is to do a lot of research. “You can’t jump into this business; it’s not an 8-5 job.” Greg said. He also mentioned a business owner will need determination to make it.

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