Small Wonders

Perfect Fit

Although kiosks have been a mainstay at fairs for decades, it wasn't until the past 15 years that franchises started to experiment with their use, says West Hartford, Connecticut, franchise consultant Michael Seid. "In the past five to seven years, we've seen an explosion in the franchise-kiosk combination," he says.

With express locations, there are even more options. Some locations pull together several types of express businesses under one roof, such as banking, dry-cleaning, food, coffee and video rentals, creating a one-stop shopping experience.

Often referred to as "downsizing," this trend takes advantage of every available square foot in response to rising real estate costs and shrinking space. Heel Quik! has made a fortune seeking out dead space for kiosks in existing business locations. "We recently opened a kiosk along an unused wall in an Atlanta mall," Margiano says. "That space is now a high-volume operation, pulling in $7,000 in sales each week from making keys and doing shoe repair. Mall management is also thrilled because we're paying them $5,000 per month in rent for an area that was previously making nothing."

With Americans constantly on the move and increasingly short on time, the demand for convenient shopping is skyrocketing--and franchises are responding. Expect to see more of this express location trend, not only in number but also in range. In the next millennium, innovative franchises will go where no kiosk has gone before . . . and they'll be seeking adventurous entrepreneurs who want to come along for the ride.

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