When Jim Echols walks through the halls of the local hospital carrying one of his EDIBLE ARRANGEMENTS® creations, he feels a little like the Pied Piper. (continued below)
“It’s always the center of attention,” Jim says.
Jim’s store in Charlotte, North Carolina is surrounded by hospitals, with the largest one in the state, Carolinas Medical Center, only two blocks away. His daily trips there are not just routine business deliveries—they are sources of great personal reward.
“Carolinas Medical Center houses Levine Children’s Hospital, and when I make a delivery, it really tugs on my heart strings,” Jim says. “When I see some of the kids who are in there, I know I’m brightening their day, and it touches me to know that. Whether we’re delivering Hello Kitty’s Friendship Bouquet or Dora the Explorer Fruit Fiesta, it’s great to see the expressions on their faces.”
In 2006, Jim took early retirement from the insurance industry after working in the business for 35 years. He thought that in the next phase of his life, he’d like to have his own business. After visiting the EDIBLE ARRANGEMENTS® store in the Charlotte area and attending Discovery Day at corporate headquarters in Connecticut to learn about becoming a franchisee, he went ahead and pursued the opportunity.
“Edible Arrangements was unique—I’d never seen anything like it,” Jim says. “Unlike other franchises, where there was one on every corner, there was not a lot of direct competition in my area. I felt there was a market for this type of product.”
Today, the business is a family affair. Jim’s wife Emma works in the store on a daily basis. Their son Jason joined them in January 2012, and is working toward becoming store manager.
“Emma does everything,” Jim says. “We have a staff of FRUIT EXPERTS®, but she sets the stage for how things look. I call her the Inspector General.”
Jim and Emma place product quality very high on their list, and make sure every arrangement that goes out the door looks delicious and perfect.
“When you have your own business, it becomes a part of you—what you are projecting to your customers and the community is a reflection of you,” Jim says. “This experience has been a lot different than working in the corporate world. At the end of the day, it’s our responsibility to get it done, and we do.”