TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Twenty years after starting the Nut Shop, a small, family-owned business near the corner of Greensboro Avenue and 15th Street, Cecil Williams is expanding to another state.
Williams recently sold his first franchise to a Georgia family interested in opening a Nut Shop in the tourist town of Dahlonega, Ga.
“It is the first one for us, and I am both excited and scared to death,” said Williams, who runs the business with his wife, Margaret.
He said franchising his business was never part of his plan, but one day he got a call from a Georgia businessman who told him he wanted to open a nut shop so he could have a business that operates year-round.
He said he had looked at opening a restaurant, but that was too complicated, so he began researching nut shops. he came upon Williams’ Tuscaloosa business through a Google search.
“He called and said ‘Do you have franchises?’ I said no, and he then said ‘Have you ever thought about franchising?’ and again I said no,” Williams said.
“He then said, ‘Would you mind if I came to talk to you?’ “
Williams said he thought he would just give the man some tips on how to run a business that roasts, boils and bags peanuts and other products and makes its own peanut brittle and pecan brittle.
But as the men talked, both agreed a franchise made sense, he said.
About four months ago, the two each hired attorneys to start drawing up a franchise agreement.
The franchise will be owned by the Jim Lovell family of Dahlenoga and is slated to open in late July or early August. the franchise will operate as the Nut Shop of Dahlonega and will buy its products wholesale from the Tuscaloosa business. the franchise agreement limits the Lovell family to the one store, but will allow them to wholesale their products throughout Georgia, a territory not served by the Williamses.
“We decided to charge a fee up front for the franchise and wholesale our product to him rather than charge a percentage of sales,” Williams said. “I want him to be successful.”
The Nut Shop sells its products directly to retail customers at its store, but Williams said most of his business involves wholesaling his packaged products to about 135 convenience stores and other customers, including the University of Alabama and Bryant-Denny Stadium during home football games. Williams also operates A-1 Sharpening Service, a knife and tool sharpening business at the Greensboro Avenue location – a business he had before opening the Nut Shop.
Williams said the Lovells will have the first option to acquire franchises in North Carolina and South Carolina. Once the Georgia franchise opens, Williams said he plans to add a section on franchise opportunities to the Nut Shop’s website to see if there is interest elsewhere.
“It’s possible,” he said. “There might be interest in Memphis or Tennessee or Louisiana or Kentucky.”
But if that doesn’t happen, he is OK with that, too.
“I am already on Medicare and Social Security, so I can go home for good anytime I want,” he said. “But as long as I enjoy what I am doing, I am going to continue.”
Information from: the Tuscaloosa News, tuscaloosanews.com