By Dianne Daniel
When it comes to buying a franchise, many prospective entrepreneurs focus on big cities. While there are many opportunities to be had in Canada’s large urban centres, there are also chances to succeed in more remote parts of the country.
A perfect example of these opportunities can be seen in the recent expansion of three very different franchised brands in Northern Ontario’s ‘cottage country.’ While it is 90 minutes north of the hustle and bustle of Toronto, franchisees are discovering this region is a great place to start—and grow—a new business, whether they’re local natives or former city dwellers looking for a lifestyle change.
A change of pace
For Brenda Rubes, who, along with her husband Tony, opened a One Tooth Active Wear franchise in Collingwood, Ont., in September 2010, the decision to start a franchised business in a smaller town has been a success on many levels.
“So far, I’ve been ahead of my projections every single month,” she says. The couple moved from Toronto to the small community, located on the southern end of Georgian Bay, in 2003 with the goal of ‘slowing things down’ after the birth of their first child.
“It was absolutely about the lifestyle,” Rubes says. “We wanted to raise our son in a smaller community where you know you can get off work, throw on your skis and be skiing in 10 minutes. You can’t do that in Toronto.”
After visiting a One Tooth store in Edmonton last year, Rubes decided the Canadian-made clothing business was a perfect fit for a four-season recreation centre like Collingwood and actively pursued it as a business opportunity. Five months later, after writing a comprehensive business plan and securing a bank loan, she opened in Cranberry Mews, a new retail mall operated by Foremost Financial Corp. The shopping centre is conveniently located off Highway 26, a main route into town.
In addition to offering a highly visible location, with an estimated 18,000 cars driving by each day, the mall has free parking, easy access and is also within walking distance for more than 3,000 nearby residents. The added benefit of opening in a four-season tourist destination, she says, is the ability to tap into an estimated two million people who visit each year, many of whom represent her franchise’s target demographic—active women in their 40s.
“I knew a big part of my market would be local, but it would also be the city crowd who spends weekends up here. You have to be able to cater to both,” she says.