Darin Kraetsch has set himself an impressive goal: He wants to do with flip flops what Sunglass Hut did with sunglasses some 20 years ago.
“There are a lot of similarities, from the casual product to the small footprint to the real estate. And both are focused on one core product,” said Kraetsch, CEO, Flip Flop Shops, Kennesaw, Ga., which has 18 locations nationwide.
Founded in 2004, Flip Flop Shops has evolved from a mom-and-pop specialty operation into a company with national ambitions and industry recognition. The burgeoning chain is one of the recipients of this year’s “Hot Retailers” awards from the International Council of Shopping Centers (click here to see story).
Flip Flops Shops’ evolution was spearheaded by its current management team, who came on board in 2008 and subsequently launched a franchise program. The team is well-versed on the ins and outs of franchising. Kraetsch was a founding partner and principal of the fast-casual dining company Raving Brands Holdings, and served as executive VP for its flagship brand, Moe’s Southwest Grill. Prior to that, he held several key management positions with Cold Stone Creamery. Brian Curin, president of Flip Flop Shops, worked with Kraetsch at Raving Brands and Cold Stone Creamery, where he held executive positions. Ditto for COO Alan Woods. All three are now principals in Flip Flop Shops.
“We were all very passionate about the product and thought Flip Flop Shops was a great idea, with a great name,” Kraetsch said. “Our goal was to put it on a national stage via a franchising program.”
The company has 50 locations in development. It expects to open 20 shops by year-end (the final count could be even higher), with a total of 235 stores by the end of 2013.
Flip Flop Shops taps directly into the booming popularity of what has become, particularly for high school and college students, a year-round obsession. From the cheap shower slippers of years past, flip flops are now available in all manner of styles, colors and price point