In 2013, based upon the successes we had experienced in investing in and working with other franchise concepts, Winmark® ventured out into the world of start-ups. From that first open room meeting with several of our employees, the story of Style Encore was born. Conceptualized by women in our office, and geared for women in the retail space, Style Encore was a very different and aggressive approach to franchising. We spent months studying the competition, understanding the customer base, and developing the concept in-house. Instead of starting with a corporate store, Winmark had the unorthodox approach of partnering with eight of our franchisees to launch the concept in mid-2013. A ground-breaking franchise partnership was formed, with Winmark sharing in the initial investment with our franchisees, and our franchise partners bearing the risk of being the owner operators in their market.
The partnership has been a phenomenal success as we experienced early successes in the field. The brand quickly caught fire in franchise development and less than seven years later we opened our 70th store and counting.
More importantly, our average unit volumes have continued to grow each year, and in our third year we surpassed our main competition, proving that slow and steady can win the race.