The Story Behind Style Encore®
Having successfully acquired and franchised four brands – Play It Again Sports®, Once Upon A Child®, Music Go Round® and Plato’s Closet® – in 30 years, Winmark Corporation and Winmark Franchise Partners decided to do something a little different for its fifth brand. In 2013, the company launched its own resale concept – Style Encore®, which provides gently used apparel, shoes, handbags and accessories for women in their late twenties and older.
The choice to develop the concept from scratch was an easy one:
- There was very little competition in the fragmented women’s resale industry
- It was a logical next step after acquiring Plato’s Closet, which targets teens and twenty-somethings, giving those customers a new venue at which to continue their love of thrift shopping
- Winmark had already perfected the buy-sell-trade resale clothing franchise system
- Winmark had a strong and experienced team ready to drive the brand forward
- Existing franchisees had already expressed an interest in partnering with the new brand in helping to launch it across North America
In the resale world, the women’s category was a strong performer. But the industry was made up of mostly independent shops operating on consignment only. With Winmark’s resale experience – and its model of paying cash up front versus consigning – the company was confident it could consolidate the industry, creating a national brand and stronger unit-level economics than anything else out there. With Winmark’s 30 years of experience, a successful track record, a strong and dynamic team and solid franchisee partners already lined up, Style Encore developed several barriers to entry. This ensured the brand would quickly climb to the top in the women’s resale category.
Growing with Style
Style Encore’s growth has been impressive since launching a little over four years ago, in terms of both franchise development and average unit volume. In 2013, the brand started with three locations. In 2018, there are 61 stores and counting. The average Style Encore location sees $633,491 in sales and a $367,439 gross profit. The top performing quartile has annual average sales of $925,776 and a gross profit of $529,955.*
The brand’s average unit volume continues to grow each year. In just its third year, the brand passed its largest competitor, which had been in operation for 10 years. This growth is even more remarkable given that Winmark Corporation requires each franchise owner to demonstrate strong operational experience and a high level of profitability before adding more stores. By focusing on franchisees’ success, Winmark creates a stronger brand that provides long-term value for both the brand and franchisees.
The brand’s growth also depends on satisfied customers. Style Encore provides what every woman looks for in a shopping experience – service, value and cash on the spot for gently used items. Nowhere else will women find items at up to 90 percent off regular retail pricing, receive top-notch customer service and get paid for the items they no longer wear or want. Each Style Encore provides a fun, friendly environment where franchise partners and their employees know their customers’ names and favorite styles.
The Future of Style Encore
Winmark and Winmark Franchise Partners’ formula for success works and requires little changes. The company will remain focused on growing one successful franchisee at a time, improving unit-level economics each year and enhancing the return on investment (ROI) for franchisees. Style Encore will continue to grow its core business inside the four walls while also enhancing its social selling platform and look to take advantage of any omni-channel opportunities for franchisees that make sense and provide a strong ROI. Overall, Winmark will stay committed to its world-class support of franchise partners in order to help them better serve their customers both on and offline.
If you are interested in franchising your business or are an existing franchisor looking for advice, contact us for more information.