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The Unlikeliest Franchisee

Uniforms, trademarks, vendor training: Yup, it's all part of becoming a Naked Cowboy franchisee.

This story appears in the October 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The Unlikeliest FranchiseeIf you've been to Times Square in New York, you might have noticed an Old West-style showdown going on. On one side: The Naked Cowboy, aka Robert Burck, who has been a mainstay on the square since he started strumming his guitar in the (near) buff in 1997. On the other: Sandy Kane, a former stripper and comedian who has been strutting her stuff as the Naked Cowgirl since 2008. Not only is Burck suing her for trademark infringement, he's also trying to force her to sign a franchise agreement.

That's right, walking around in your underwear strumming a guitar is an actual franchise, registered in Tennessee by Naked Cowboy Enterprises. The terms are fairly simple--a $5,000 per year franchise fee or $500 per month, plus a 20 percent royalty from tips and appearance fees, which start at $1,000. Franchise rights include an exclusive territory and coaching by the cowpoke himself. Burck has had a handful of franchised clones--but at the moment the Naked Cowboy franchise has one lonesome, legitimate cowgirl: Louisa Holmlund, who strums in Times Square wearing a miniskirt, cowboy hat and pasties. We asked her what it's like to run a franchise in the (near) buff.

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