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From Stalwarts Like Ace Hardware to Emerging Brands Like Nothing Bundt Cakes — See the Top Retail Franchises Featuring powerhouse brands revolutionizing the industry and empowering entrepreneurs to thrive, explore the top 15 retail franchises according to the 2024 Franchise 500 Ranking.

By Clarissa Buch Zilberman

Key Takeaways

  • These retail franchises represent the top 15 retail franchises in our 2024 Franchise 500.
  • The list showcases a wide range of retail formats, from home improvement and tools to convenience stores and specialty food.
  • Franchise success demands a brand that fits one's lifestyle and budget and also has a strong market presence and growth potential.
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Ready to embark on a journey into the world of retail franchising? As you navigate the landscape of potential franchise opportunities, it's crucial to stay informed about the top players in the industry. Whether you dream of owning a traditional brick-and-mortar store or tapping into the digital marketplace, there's a franchise out there for you.

Here, explore the top 15 retail franchises of 2024, according to the 2024 Franchise 500 Ranking. Learn how these top retail franchises are revolutionizing the retail landscape and empowering franchisees like you to make their mark in the industry.

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

1. Ace Hardware

  • Founded: 1924
  • Franchising since: 1976
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 5
  • Number of units: 5,813
  • Change in units: +7.9% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $579,000-$1,900,000
  • Leadership: John Venhuizen, CEO
  • Parent company: N/A

Ace Hardware offers a unique retail franchising opportunity without the burden of royalty fees, allowing franchisees to truly own their store while benefiting from the brand recognition and support resources provided by Ace. As a well-established home improvement store, Ace Hardware is an ideal partner for franchise owners seeking to tap into a trusted and reputable brand in the industry.

2. Snap-on Tools

  • Founded: 1920
  • Franchising since: 1991
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 20
  • Number of units: 4,724
  • Change in units: -0.1% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $201,000-$465,000
  • Leadership: Nick Pinchuk, President & CEO
  • Parent company: Snap-on Inc.

Join the global leader in tool innovation and distribution with Snap-On Tools. With more than 19,000 premium products ranging from hand tools to diagnostic equipment, Snap-On Tools serves diverse industries in over 130 countries through its network of over 4,000 franchises. As a Snap-On Tools franchisee, you'll benefit from a world-class brand reputation, a flexible mobile store business model and comprehensive support from headquarters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, including financing assistance and a proven operating system.

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3. 7-Eleven

  • Founded: 1927
  • Franchising since: 1964
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 25
  • Number of units: 83,779
  • Change in units: +17.8% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $139,000-$1,400,000
  • Leadership: Joseph DePinto, CEO
  • Parent company: 7-Eleven Inc.

Convenience store franchise 7-Eleven is a beloved destination for quick snacks, beverages and everyday essentials since its founding in 1927. With more than 7,200 franchises in the United States and an impressive global presence exceeding 70,000 locations, 7-Eleven is synonymous with convenience and community service. Ranked consistently high in Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 and Top Global Franchises lists, 7-Eleven offers a top retail franchise opportunity and a proven business model built on brand strength, extensive support and financial stability.

4. Circle K

  • Founded: 1951
  • Franchising since: 1995
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 56
  • Number of units: 12,199
  • Change in units: +0.5% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $936,000-$7,00,000
  • Leadership: Brian Hannasch, CEO
  • Parent company: Alimentation Couche-Tard

Circle K is a leading chain of convenience stores with a widespread presence across the United States and more than ten countries worldwide. Established from Fred Hervey's visionary expansion of three food stores in 1951, Circle K has evolved into a global franchise powerhouse. Since offering franchising opportunities in 1995, Circle K has expanded to include thousands of locations.

Related: Find Out Which Brands Have Ranked on the Franchise 500 for Longest, Earning a Spot In our New 'Hall of Fame'

5. Matco Tools

  • Founded: 1979
  • Franchising since: 1993
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 58
  • Number of units: 1,950
  • Change in units: +7.8% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $77,000-$314,000
  • Leadership: Timothy Gilmore, President
  • Parent company: Vontier

At Matco Tools franchise, you're not just selling tools; you're also providing a vital service directly to automotive technicians. Backed by a trusted name in the industry, you'll offer only the highest quality tools, ensuring that professionals have the ongoing support they need to succeed. Operating across all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico, Matco Tools is committed to delivering top-notch mechanical solutions, with hundreds of new tools added annually to meet evolving industry needs.

6. Cornwell Quality Tools

  • Founded: 1919
  • Franchising since: 1997
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 66
  • Number of units: 796
  • Change in units: +12.9% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $55,000-$299,000
  • Leadership: Bob Studenic, President, CEO and Director
  • Parent company: N/A

Established in 1919, Cornwell Quality Tools stands as the nation's oldest mobile tool company, dedicated to manufacturing and distributing top-quality tools to professional technicians. As a franchisee, you'll assume the role of a trusted "tool consultant," assisting technicians and professionals in selecting the ideal products to enhance their business operations.

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7. Mac Tools

  • Founded: 1938
  • Franchising since: 2011
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 70
  • Number of units: 1,159
  • Change in units: +3.2% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $120,000-$343,000
  • Leadership: Phil Cox, President/General Manager
  • Parent company: Stanley Black and Decker

Mac Tools specializes in the manufacturing and sale of high-quality hand tools, featuring a comprehensive range of exclusive products and services, including power tools, tool storage solutions, diagnostics and more. With over 8,000 different tools in its product line, Mac Tools is committed to providing professionals with the tools they need to excel in their trade.

8. Nothing Bundt Cakes

  • Founded: 1997
  • Franchising since: 2006
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 78
  • Number of units: 517
  • Change in units: +45.6% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $551,000-$978,000
  • Leadership: Dolf Berle, CEO
  • Parent company: Nothing Bundt Franchising LLC

Indulge in the joy of sweet success by joining the Nothing Bundt Cakes franchise family. Whether you're a baking enthusiast or a business novice, you'll receive comprehensive support to ensure your success from day one. With top-notch training, marketing assistance and a commitment to using only the finest ingredients, Nothing Bundt Cakes has earned a loyal customer base and garnered nationwide recognition.

Related: From Global Giants Like Taco Bell and McDonald's to Emerging Brands Like Crumbl, These Are The Top 15 Fast Food Franchises

9. Kilwins

  • Founded: 1947
  • Franchising since: 1982
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 95
  • Number of units: 163
  • Change in units: +16.4% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $216,000-$828,000
  • Leadership: Brian Britton, CEO
  • Parent company: Kilwins Chocolate Franchise Inc.

Indulge in the opportunity of owning a Kilwins franchise, renowned since 1947 for its premium, kitchen-made ice cream, chocolates, and fudge. With a reputation for exceptional service and high-quality products like caramel apples and chocolate bark, Kilwins has become a staple in American culture. Benefit from over 50 years of brand recognition and a seasoned business model that handles marketing and branding costs. Receive extensive training, personalized support and a comprehensive operating system from Kilwins, allowing you to focus on delivering excellent customer care while enjoying the sweet success of your franchise.

10. Honey Baked Ham Co.

  • Founded: 1957
  • Franchising since: 1998
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 142
  • Number of units: 408
  • Change in units: -1% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $431,000-$718,000
  • Leadership: Jim Dinkins, CEO
  • Parent company: The Honey Baked Ham Co. LLC

Discover the savory tradition of The Honey Baked Ham Co., a family-oriented American food retailer founded in 1957 with over 400 locations, more than half of which are franchised. Specializing in delectable hams, turkey breasts and a range of pre-cooked entrées, sides and desserts, The Honey Baked Ham Co. promises a feast for all palates. As a franchisee, you'll have the opportunity to deliver quality and delicious food to countless customers, embodying the spirit of hospitality.

Related: This Entrepreneur Is on a Mission to Eradicate Generational Poverty in the Black Community — And She's Using Franchising to Do It.

11. Wireless Zone

  • Founded: 1988
  • Franchising since: 1989
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 200
  • Number of units: 725
  • Change in units: +67.4% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $183,000-$444,000
  • Leadership: Scott Moorehead, CEO
  • Parent company: Round Room LLC

Smartphones, tablets and portable internet devices are integral parts of daily life, demanding regular updates and maintenance. Leading the charge is Wireless Zone, the nation's largest wireless retail franchisor, originally established in 1988 as The Car Phone Store. Evolving into a key retail brand under Verizon Wireless, Wireless Zone boasts hundreds of franchises across the U.S., with plans for further expansion. With the average American checking their smartphone over 50 times a day, Wireless Zone remains at the forefront, providing essential wireless technology solutions to meet the ever-growing demand.

12. Metal Supermarkets

  • Founded: 1985
  • Franchising since: 1987
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 203
  • Number of units: 128
  • Change in units: +33.3% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $311,000-$563,000
  • Leadership: Stephen Schober, President/CEO
  • Parent company: N/A

With franchise opportunities available across the United States, Canada and beyond, Metal Supermarkets has been a leader in the industry since 1987, featuring more than 100 operating units, the majority of which are located in the U.S. With a commitment to offering a unique variety of metal products and distributing small-quantity metals without minimum size orders, Metal Supermarkets has cultivated long-term relationships with a diverse customer base, serving over 60,000 clients worldwide. Ideal for franchisees seeking a sustainable and profitable business-to-business (B2B) model, Metal Supermarkets offers exciting opportunities in the dynamic industrial metal products market.

Related: From Coding to Creole Cooking — Here Are 5 Inspiring Success Stories of Black-Owned Businesses

13. Rent-A-Center

  • Founded: 1980
  • Franchising since: 2013
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 204
  • Number of units: 2,307
  • Change in units: -0.3% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $367,000-$694,000
  • Leadership: Michael Landry, VP, Franchising
  • Parent company: Rent-A-Center Franchising Int'l. Inc.

Discover the opportunities of the rent-to-own industry with Rent-A-Center, a leading furniture and electronics company founded in 1980. With more than 2,000 store locations across the U.S., Rent-A-Center is dedicated to providing quality yet affordable options for both residential and commercial customers. Since 2013, Rent-A-Center has been offering franchising opportunities, attracting passionate entrepreneurs looking to run a successful retail business with comprehensive training provided. Ideal candidates for a Rent-A-Center franchise are business-minded individuals who prioritize offering great deals and supporting their local community.

14. Pro Image Sports

  • Founded: 1985
  • Franchising since: 1986
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 213
  • Number of units: 160
  • Change in units: +55.3% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $109,000-$580,000
  • Leadership: Jake Riley, CEO
  • Parent company: Pro Image Sports

In 1985, brothers Chad and Kevin Olsen introduced the inaugural Pro Image store in Salt Lake City. Just a year later, they began expanding the concept through franchising. Today, Pro Image Sports stores stand as premier destinations, offering licensed professional and collegiate sports apparel, hats and novelty items to enthusiastic fans nationwide. Experience the thrill of sports fandom and entrepreneurial success with a Pro Image franchise opportunity.

Related: Don't Make These 5 Risky Franchise Ownership Mistakes

15. Buddy's Home Furnishings

  • Founded: 1961
  • Franchising since: 2009
  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 230
  • Number of units: 338
  • Change in units: +16.2% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $356,000-$879,000
  • Leadership: Michael Bennett, CEO
  • Parent Company: Franchise Group Inc.

Founded in 1961 in Tampa, Florida, Buddy's Home Furnishings has been dedicated to helping customers afford home necessities through affordable payment plans without the stress of credit or financing. Expanding its reach in 2009 through franchising, Buddy's now serves a larger audience and is reaching new markets nationwide. As one of the fastest-growing companies in the rent-to-own industry, Buddy's prides itself on offering essential services like no credit needed, express delivery within 24 hours, included service and repair and flexible payment options, making it a top choice for customers seeking quality home furnishings without long-term commitments.

Clarissa Buch Zilberman

Entrepreneur Staff

Freelance Writer, Editor & Content Marketing Consultant

Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor based in Miami. Specializing in lifestyle, business, and travel, her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Realtor.com, Travel + Leisure, and Bon Appétit, among other print and digital titles. Through her content marketing consultancy, By Clarissa, she leverages her extensive editorial background and unique industry insights to support enterprise organizations and global creative agencies with their B2B, B2C, and B2E content initiatives. 

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