Ben’s Soft Pretzels has reached an agreement with the world’s largest retailer to open franchises inside its stores, Ben’s announced Tuesday, May 27.
The agreement, reached after months of negotiating with Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., will allow Goshen-based Ben’s to enter new markets in Indiana and throughout the United States, said Ben’s co-founder Brian Krider.
Plans call for multiple openings this year, starting in Indiana with stores in LaPorte, Columbia City and Angola.
“We have been planning this for a while and have made all of the arrangements to expand in this capacity,” Krider said in a statement.
That planning includes the recent launch with Ben’s co-founders Scott Jones and Ben Miller of Live Large Distribution Inc., headquartered at 52864 Lillian Ave., north of Elkhart Municipal Airport. They’ll use the building to make proprietary ingredients for franchisees, do-it-yourself pretzel kits that are sold in Martin’s Super Markets stores and as a distribution point for commercial kitchen equipment for both franchisees and customers having nothing to do with pretzels.
Jones said Ben’s will be announcing more new franchise stores in the next several weeks once the franchise documents are signed.
Tuesday’s news comes five weeks after Ben’s announced new franchise stores in Madison, Wis., Chicago and Indianapolis. On Tuesday Krider revealed that the Indianapolis store will be run by franchisee Delicious Twist LLC, a partnership that includes Kim (Barrier) McGuire, who was named Miss Indiana Basketball after her senior season at Jimtown High School in 1986. That store opened May 16 in downtown Indianapolis’ Circle Centre Mall.
For the past five years McGuire had worked for Ben’s mobile operations at Notre Dame games and special events such as the Indiana State Fair. Circle Centre owner Simon Properties approached Ben’s, which then invited McGuire and her business partner, Candy Cox, to be a franchisee.
McGuire, who is human resources manager at RC Industries, an Elkhart company that makes truck tool boxes, said she didn’t need much persuading.
“When you’re serving pretzels and hear the comments everyone gives you on what a great product it is … it tastes awesome,” she said. “People go, ’Oh my gosh, it really is soft.’”
McGuire said she and Cox plan to open three more stores in the Indianapolis area over the next five years, possibly in Walmart stores. She said the agreement with Walmart allows Ben’s to approach individual Walmart stores who might have space.