advice | business profiles
CHILLING OUT WITH COOL STREETWEAR
in this article:
fridgefreezericebox retails the hottest brands for the coolest kids
You’ll have heard of Nike and Adidas, but have you heard of Sneaktip, Akomplice, American Needle, Estevean Oriol or Onitsuka Tiger? How about LoopHole, Brooklyn Projects or Molotow sprays? If they’re new to you, ask any street-smart kid. These are the brands on some of the hottest streetwear in the world, and they’re all available from the coolest shop in town: fridgefreezericebox.
Created by established franchisor Laurie Blyth, the man behind the Frontrunner chain, fridgefreezericebox opened in Christchurch in 2010. Why the name? ‘The shop on Colombo Street was on three levels, and it occurred to us that to use the space properly and create something memorable, we had to integrate that architecture into the brand,’ says Laurie. ‘So the idea developed into everything getter “cooler” as you rose up – hence fridge – freezer – ice box, with ice box being the coolest of the cool.’
It was an instant winner. ‘People loved the concept and in addition to having great sales, we even had overseas visitors photographing the store, telling us how fabulous it looked and that we should be present in New York, London and Tokyo.’ But after just 18 months, when the concept had proved itself and franchising was on the cards, the earthquakes rendered the Colombo Street store uninhabitable. As the city slowly recovered, a re-think was in order.
With the CBD closed for business, the new destination became Northlands Mall – one of the top two retail locations in the Christchurch area. ‘But we only had a third of our former floor space so it obliged us to focus down. So we became “Fridge@fridgefreezericebox,” maintaining the brand and leaving room for expansion in other areas.’
‘Fridge is a very affordable and on-trend location,’ explains fridge manager Emma Middleditch who, in addition to having had a varied career involving many years in retail and a few in the Navy, is one of Laurie’s daughters (the other, Belinda, runs a store in the Issimo fashion shoe franchise).
‘We provide streetwear right across the range: footwear, clothing, headgear and accessories, all at very affordable levels. There is nothing over $200 and all our tee shirts are under $60 so we have good middle-of-the road pricing. Streetwear is very casual fashion driven by movie stars and hip hop artists; if they are seen in casual Nike hi-tops and flat caps, that’s what people will want and that’s what we will sell, along with accessories such as backpacks, jandals, artists’ spray paint… everything, really. If it’s in fashion we sell it, and things change and come around again so fast that whatever is not selling today is bound to come round again within a few months. From that aspect it is endlessly fascinating, and profitable, too. Being in the mall was a great move for us and because Fridge is cool but not aggressive, I can sell a pair of shoes to an 80 year-old woman one minute and a flat cap to a 12 year-old kid the next!’
fridgefreezericebox is just one of a stable of growing and successful brands created by Laurie Blyth, a former professional footballer who started the Frontrunner group of specialist sports stores in 1976. Well-known in the South Island they are gradually heading north as the company increasingly focuses on franchising. ‘Initially, all the outlets were company-owned, but I realised that by franchising them to owner/operators as passionate as myself, they could do even better,’ says Laurie. ‘Sport is about passion, energy and challenge, and it’s those same qualities that are driving the other brands we are expanding into in the fashion industry. Both my daughters, Emma at Fridge, and Belinda at Issimo, are driven by a love of their product and the industry. Our franchisees add their own passion and local knowledge to the mix and now we are looking for people who have a similar enthusiasm for building bright, creative, highly-branded and customer-focused businesses.
‘Frontrunner has done very well because we’re not a rigid, inflexible system,’ continues Laurie. ‘All nine stores have individual characteristics and their owners know from experience what sells well in their specific areas. We trust their instincts on what will go well in their patches and over 40 years this has proved to be a very successful formula. We will continue that philosophy with our two new brands.
‘There will be opportunities in all the big centres. Paul Garvie, who already owns both a Frontrunner and an Issimo in Queenstown, is going to open a Fridge and we’d like to hear from others. The capital investment is around $150,000, and you’ll need a passion for fashion, trends and retailing.
‘We’re constantly looking at our business and asking how we can do things better, and have learned from long experience that the people who succeed best in this industry are those who understand what we are trying to do and share our vision. If you want a business that’s at the fast-moving forefront of street fashion with the buying power, systems and training to create truly profitable businesses, contact me today. I’d love to explain why fridgefreezericebox is the coolest franchise around.’
This advertorial is taken from Franchise New Zealand magazine Volume 22 Issue 4
Contact details for fridgefreezericebox
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This material is copyright © Franchise NZ Marketing Limited, Franchise New Zealand ™ magazine and Franchise New Zealand On Line . While it may be downloaded for personal use, no part may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the specific written permission of the publisher.