Are you looking to get out of Corporate America and into a job that’s less stressful and more fun?
There’s a franchise concept that’s exploding across the nation, in part because it offers owners just that opportunity — a chance to spend time in a fantastic work environment with a real party atmosphere. This business idea also feeds into Americans’ insatiable desire to find something different, affordable, and enjoyable to do with their friends, family, or co-workers.
What is this business? Welcome to the world of “paint ‘n’ sip” franchises.
Franchise owners in this niche organize alcohol-fueled painting parties. Working from an example canvas, party guests create their own version of the artwork on a canvas they get to take home as a souvenir, all while visiting with friends and enjoying a glass of wine or a craft beer. This isn’t like art class, and guests aren’t expected to be artistically savvy — it’s “fun art” you can bond over making, and then take home. And classes are affordable, around $30 or so per person.
How fast is the paint-and-drink phenomenon spreading? Here’s a look at four of the biggest franchise chains in the category, their business models, and their growth plans for this year:
Painting With a Twist
The oldest and biggest of the franchise chains, PWAT was founded by New Orleans moms Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney, who were looking for a way to escape the post-Hurricane Katrina blues. The chain now has 190 locations in 28 states, and expects to open more than 100 new painting-party studios this year. The growth isn’t all in new units, either — sales at stores open more than a year were up 37 percent in 2014, the company reports, as word of mouth brings in more customers and existing customers return for more parties.
The company’s instructors have created more than 5,000 copyrighted pieces for partygoers to riff on. Besides nighttime painting parties — which include a BYOB option — PWAT studios offer kids’ classes, weekday “coffee and canvas” groups for moms, and team-building corporate events.
It costs roughly $100,000 to open a franchise. The chain’s SEC disclosure documents show the median annual income for established stores is around $300,000.
Founded in 2009 by couple Beth and Charles Willis and Craig Ceccanti, Houston-based Pinot’s Palette began franchising in 2010. The chain has grown to 100 franchise locations in 31 states, with a big presence in California, Texas, and New Jersey. The chain expects to add 60 more units this year, says company marketing manager Jacqueline Deavenport. Customers range in age from 25-55, typically, and events include girls-night-out, kids’ Little Brushes art classes, and corporate events.
Pinot’s offers franchisees three different formats for the business — a BYOB model, a bar model, and a retail studio.
Costs to get into a Pinot’s franchise can range from $80,000-$170,000, depending on the format chosen and the cost of retail space in your market. In its disclosure documents, Pinot’s reports net income, rather than the gross income figures most franchisors state. Average net income for stores open more than a year was $268,000 in 2013. It’s notable that only 13 stores have been open that long — most of the chain’s growth came in the past 18 months or so.
What explains the explosive growth of this niche? Deavenport says, “Our candidates come from the corporate world, and have etensive marketing and management backgrounds. They want to do something for themselves, and something that’s fun. Your role is to have a party every night — and that’s attractive to people leaving the corporate sector. And everyone wants to do something new and fun, so for patrons, this is a little different.”