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After Cold Stone Creamery, Future Is Bright In Flip-Flops

KENNESAW, Ga. ( TheStreet) -- At last count, Flip Flop Shops President Brian Curin had 140 pairs of flip-flops.

To some it might seem extreme, but when you're an executive of a company that sells only flip-flops and sandals, it's part of the job. And while Curin says he's worn all his pairs at least once, he's got three that are his favorites.

Flip Flop Shops has been franchising since 2008 but is still in its "infancy," Curin says. The potential for the franchise is large as the shoes gain acceptance as year-round fashionable items, not just as summer gear.

It's not just what the store sells, but the way it sells it -- essentially by selling the idea of a casual surfer-dude lifestyle that appeals to customers and therefore to franchisees. Along the walls of any Flip Flop Shop are brands such as Quiksilver (ZQK) and its women's line Roxy, Reef, OluKai, O'Neill, Oakley, Vans and others representative of alternative apparel for sports such as surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding.

"The biggest piece is to make sure we got the right shop owners. It's very easy to find [the] money. We match up the people that want to be part of Flip Flop Shops -- not just people that have a big check. They already live this lifestyle or want to live this lifestyle," Curin says.

Of the 12,000 franchise applications, Curin says he's accepted just 58 franchisees.

"We wear shorts and tees and listen to great music," he says. "This is truly a lifestyle for us. From our perspective we want to have fun and if we can't have fun we don't want to do it anymore. If I don't want to sit down and have dinner with you, you're probably not the right fit for our franchise concept."

Curin and CEO Darin Kraetsch met while working on brands such as Cold Stone Creamery and later as part of the now-dissolved Raving Brands, whose flagship brand was Moe's Southwest Grill. (Curin and Kraetsch left Raving Brands in 2006 after Moe's was sold and well before Ravings Brands' legal troubles. The pair wanted to leave the food business and find something that fit their lifestyles more.)
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