From the February 2003 issue of Startups

Maybe you've gotten a DVD, a shirt, even a computer for way less than the going retail price. Felt good, didn't it? Now imagine getting a bargain on a 7-Eleven location. Or a Tastee-Freez, a Gloria Jean's coffee shop--even an auto rental franchise. Despite popular belief that franchises cost millions of dollars and will drain you of everything you have, all these blockbusters and many more franchises can be had for low, low prices of less than $50,000.

Ready to go bargain shopping for a franchise? Then you'll be interested in our complete directory of low-cost franchises, plus our special ranking of the top 142 low-cost franchises for 2003. These franchises are ranked based on their scores in Entrepreneur's Franchise 500®.

These listings are not intended to endorse any particular franchise, but rather to provide a starting point for your research. Before you purchase any franchise, you should thoroughly investigate the opportunity by interviewing existing franchisees, consulting with an attorney and an accountant, and reading all relevant literature, including the company's UFOC. Buying a low-cost franchise still requires you to make research a high priority.

Listing compiled by Maggie Iskander and Zoy Parkinson-Smith