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Franchise Country

We hit the road and went in search of the hottest trends in franchising, from the mountains to the prairies.

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This story appears in the June 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

I'm in danger. My car is rocketing south through the heart of Texas, on I-35, one of the busiest highways in the country. This ugly, congested slab is a huge distribution channel connecting Mexico to the heart of the United States. It's a place where countless pickup trucks blast past hardworking drug dogs, amid a sea of looming 100-foot-pole signs, screaming for business. My orders from Entrepreneur were succinct: Go forth into the countryside, perform reconnaissance on "hot trends," and file a scouting report about my firsthand look at the franchise landscape.

The fuel light is blinking, and my stomach growls. I'm on a road trip from Dallas to San Antonio, Texas, to attend the International Franchise Association's 43rd annual convention. My own road rules have put me in danger--namely, that during my travel odyssey, I would not patronize any franchise brand that I had previously patronized. That's why I'm hungry and running out of gas, just four hours into my quest. It is both a tremendous privilege and an incredible burden to report on franchise trends. The IFA says franchises exist in no less than 75 different

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