Under The Sun Expects Franchise Boom

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Edmond's familiar "Under the Sun" garden center is preparing to grow.

The local store is one of three permanent stores and seven seasonal stores located in the Oklahoma City metro area, Tulsa and Claremore, said owner Craig Bay, and his business is the first of its type to offer franchise opportunities across the United States.

Bay is an Edmond native, graduating from Edmond High School in 1982. He attended Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in business management, then worked in commercial real estate.

"Then I just kind of got into retail," he said. "I purchased a big circus tent and began selling flowers."- That was in Tulsa, back in 1992. Bay operated under the name Tulsa Flowers for seven years. In 1999, Under the Sun Garden Center was born.

"Then when John Henry opened this strip mall (at 33rd Street and Broadway), I convinced him to put a garden center on one of the pad sites," Bay said. The local store was built as a franchise prototype.

"Franchising struck a chord with us with the construction of this store. There's never been a garden center franchised anywhere that we can find. We're the first." The stores include a "deep inventory" of annual and perennial plants, herbs, hanging baskets and seasonal decor.

"We specialize in color," Bay said. "We want the big color "" it's like it's euphoric to customers when they walk in here." Bay's wife Amy is the company's buyer, attending markets in Dallas and Atlanta two to three times a year to find unique indoor and outdoor decor and gifts.

The Edmond Under the Sun location is expected to do $1 million in sales this year, Bay said, so he's looking forward to franchise opportunities in other states.

"The recipe for Under the Sun has three parts: quality products, customer service and a beautiful presentation," he said.

The model for future franchise locations would be a busy shopping center in a high-traffic area with the correct demographics.

"We're going to blow them away," he said. "We are getting leads every day. We've had more than 100 leads in the first two months." Bay said he foresees the business growing "" well, like a weed.

"This is a unique opportunity and I fully believe in it. It's a very profitable little business, and if I can share that opportunity with other folks, that's just fantastic.- Edmond store manager Lacey Pitts said working at Under the Sun is a "dream job' for her, and she thinks the franchises will be popular across the country.

"When people come to buy flowers, they have a smile on their face" she said. "If they don't when they come, they'll have one by the time they leave." FOR MORE INFORMATION about Under the Sun franchises, visit www.utsgc.com.

The Details What you need to know A Halloween tip from Lacey Pitts, manager at Under the Sun: Spray carved Jack-o-lanterns thoroughly with a mild bleach and water solution to keep the pumpkins fresh longer.

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Under the Sun Garden Center
5147 S. Harvard Ave Suite 291
Tulsa, OK

Phone: 918-493-7118

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