Andrea Halperin knows your darkest secret: You want to run amok eating all sorts of goodies. Muffins, brownies, pizza, chips! But, alas, fears of winding up the size of a Macy's Thanksgiving Day float keep you nibbling away at those bland salads.
The 34-year-old New York City entrepreneur feels those hunger
pangs and has done something about it. Her two-story, 4,300-
square-foot store, F3 Fat Free Foods, has become a mecca for people with health problems, such as diabetics and cardiac patients, but it also caters to those of us watching our weight (that's just about everyone, isn't it?). The store, which opened last September, stocks 7,000 completely fat-free foods from countries around the world, including France, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Spain. The aisles brim with every sort of pastry, deli meat, soufflé, pizza, cheese and much more.
"I've always eaten fat-free; it's a way of life for me," says the 110-pound University of Pennsylvania at Wharton grad. "In a regular grocery store, though, it took so long to read the labels, I couldn't find what I wanted. So I decided to create a destination, a one-stop shopfor fat-free foods."
Halperin, who previously was employed helping American Express set up new business ventures, is no stranger to start-ups. A combination of personal funds and a bank loan helped her venture gain lift-off. She expects sales of about $1.5 million in her first year.
Although less than one year old, the business already has received ample press attention from The New York Times and international as well as regional media. Halperin believes the best advertising, though, comes from grateful customers. "People come in with their faces down to the ground because their doctor just told them to watch what they eat," she says. "Then they see two whole floors of fat-free foods, and they light up."
In the future, Halperin may establish a catalog and an online ordering system; she's also received inquiries about franchising. For now, though, she wants to concentrate on giving her store a solid start and continuing her quest for the one fat-free food she hasn't been able to locate anywhere on the planet: peanut butter.
Pamela Rohland, a freelance writer from Bernville,
Pennsylvania, wonders whether they serve fat-free food to dieting
doggies at daycare.
F3 Fat Free Foods, (212) 953-0100, firstname.lastname@example.org