Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Candle Maker to Franchise Stores, Expand Product Line

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Candle Maker to Franchise Stores, Expand Product Line

Article excerpt

Montag Fine Candle Co. will start franchising retail stores this spring as it expands into bath oils, lotions and other related products.

The fast-growing manufacturer opened a 1,500-square-foot prototype in October beside its downtown Broken Arrow headquarters. That location, usually operated by cofounder Lori Montag or another member of the family business, has enjoyed monthly sales of $25,000 or more.

That encourages the Montags to project $250,000-plus annual sales at franchised stores, said son Chris Montag, who oversees finances for the company. Although plans remain in development for a possible launch in March or April, the Montags anticipate franchisee initial investment requirements of about $100,000 to $150,000, including a potential $35,000 franchise fee.

"We see our stores as a combination Yankee Candle store and a Bath and Body Works store," said Lori Montag.

The stores will target women ages 25 to 60 with a branded, upscale look.

The prototype features multilevel candle displays on thick hardwood frames holding glass shelves, which she called a "vintage Tuscany look." A myriad of seductive scents surround the displays before a backdrop of tan walls offering framed images of Montag products photographed by Lori Montag, a professional photographer before her wax-pouring days.

That floor plan builds upon Montag's brand and packaging design that over the last year drew praise for its classic elegance from trade shows executives at AmericasMart in Atlanta and the Dallas Market Center.

"We put in $300,000 of our own money in building that brand line," said Lori Montag. "Now we're ready to offer it to other people."

All these elements will be available to the franchisees, along with retail training and software, brand signage and other support infrastructure.

The franchisees also will be the first to carry Montag's new lines of oils, creams, lotions, bath balls, body scrubs and other related items that the family company has under development for debut over the next six to 12 months.

All are expected to complement and enhance the candle line, which will grow from 29 fragrances to 35 or more this spring.

"Just this week alone we tested maybe 40 fragrances, and maybe came out with one that we'll come out with this spring," she said. "That's a low number. Usually we have to go through about 200 to get one."

Through its established suppliers and contractors, Montag has spent about $20,000 creating new products with many parallel scents. Lori Montag anticipates about 10 new bath and body lines in all, with about half - the lotions, soaps and others closely related to candles - to be manufactured at its expanded 20,000-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing site.

Along with those lines, Montag will outsource production on accessories such as candle warmers, wick cutters and other new devices. …

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