UPDATED — On the heels of getting its first franchise in April, the Willow Group has inked a deal with an undisclosed group for 14 ’Til We Meet Again stores in Texas. All of them will be open no later than 2014.
“It’s huge,” says Nathan Smith, who is partners with Traci Smith-Cone in the venture.
The two opened the custom casket store in Towne West Square in 2010 with no plans to franchise.
Smith says they’ve just finalized a deal for a Milwaukee store, though the franchisee hasn’t signed a lease for mall space yet, and are close on a three-store deal in Phoenix.
Smith thinks the Texas deal will help him and Smith-Cone close other deals.
“For the folks that are out there that we’re talking to right now … those guys that are on the fence … seeing that definitely gets them off the fence quickly,” Smith says. “It helps legitimize what we’re doing.”
He says it gives other potential franchisees a sense of security to know “they’re not the first ones, and they’re not doing this by themselves.”
Smith says he and Smith-Cone have the infrastructure in place for the rapid expansion.
“That’s what is the best part about what we’re doing here and what makes this work,” he says.