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Edible Arrangements Store Is New Model for Chain

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BOARDMAN, Ohio – When Edible Arrangements moved its store from the Boardman Plaza last month, franchise owners Ron and Lori Taylor did more than simply move to a larger space at 18 Boardman-Poland Road just east of Walgreen’s.

They developed the prototype store for the national chain that 1,300 outlets will follow, Ron Taylor said Friday, as he and his wife showed off the 2,440-square-foot floor plan after cutting a wide blue ribbon in front of their entrance.

They gutted the store down to its metal frames and rebuilt from the ground up.

This store is unique among the 1,300, Taylor says, because customers can pick up their fruit arrangements inside, stop at the drive-thru window about 15 feet north of the entrance or have their orders delivered to their homes and offices.

“We offer the first drive-thru of any Edibles in the United States,” he said. “We’re the first to have this new look and layout.”

This store – one of eight Edible Arrangements franchises the Taylors own – has delivered as far south as East Liverpool, Lori Taylor said, but most deliveries are made within a 15- to 20-mile radius.

“Ninety percent of our orders are delivery,” Ron Taylor said, for which Edible Arrangements adds a fee of $13.95. Anyone who enters the store is offered a free sample, Taylor said. Customers favor chocolate-covered fruit in boxes of three, six or a dozen items.

Their other franchises are in Niles, Stow and Fairlawn, Ohio; Hermitage, Mt. Lebanon and Robinson Township, Pa.; and Morgantown, W.Va., site of West Virginia University and where the couple met.

Combined, the eight stores employ between 65 and 70, Ron Taylor said.

Edible Arrangements Inc., based in Wallingford, Conn., has 1,300 stores worldwide that sell gift baskets of fresh-fruit medleys of strawberries, pineapple, apples and bananas dipped in semisweet chocolate – the most popular items, Ron Taylor notes, as well as oranges, cantaloupes, watermelons and honeydews – and fruit smoothies, greeting cards, small stuffed animals and Mylar balloons.

In 2013, Edible Arrangements honored the Taylors as franchisees of the year and Shakera Brown manager of the year, Ron Taylor said proudly. Two of their employees have been with them nearly nine years, Denise Ritchie and Bob DeRose.

Ron Taylor studied accounting at WVU, Lori broadcast journalism, with Ron becoming a pharmaceutical salesman after they graduated. He handles the management accounting for the eight stores, he said, but turns to a public accounting firm to handle the financial accounting side, including tax returns.

Ten years ago, the Taylors decided to become entrepreneurs. Ron was no longer interested in being a sales rep and their two children were sufficiently grown that Lori could return to work part-time.

With the help of banker Joe Fanto, now with the Home Savings and Loan Co., they opened their first store in the Boardman Plaza when Edible Arrangements had only 600 stores. “Business took off immediately,” Ron Taylor said, allowing them to open more stores in eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and in Morgantown.

Home Savings continues to be the bank for the Taylors’ eight stores and financed the renovation of their newest.

“Of the eight, we built five and bought three,” Taylor said.

Real estate agent Charley Althof of Mayo & Associates Inc. found the Taylors the site for their newest store.

Their busiest day of the year is Valentine’s Day, when 95% of their customers are men. “We did 1,600 orders [at the Boardman Plaza last February],” Taylor said.

The rest of the year, women between ages 27 and 55 account for 70% of his business.

Men find a gift-basket of fruit, especially fruit covered in chocolate, an appealing alternative to flowers when they want to send a gift to their wives or girlfriends, Lori Taylor said.

Asked how she keeps her girlish figure — she was in the kitchen immersing chucks of cantaloupe in chocolate – Dolores Carnahan answered, “I just eat a little bit of each.”

Carnahan is an exemplar of willpower.

Pictured: Boardman store manager Denise Ritchie and Katie Hill make arrangements.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.