Ham chain cooks up local store

The HoneyBaked Ham Co. said Thursday that it wants to open a store in the Olympia area this year as part of a national expansion plan. The nearest store is in Tacoma.

The Atlanta-based company seeks a South Sound franchisee for a store that would include a lunch cafe and a catering business for its ham and turkey products, said Jim Squire, the franchise development director.

The company tends to operate company-owned stores in larger cities and franchised operations in smaller markets, Squire said.

The company would not announce possible store locations until after securing a franchisee to operate it, Squire said.

He was hopeful that a South Sound store could open this year.

'Primed and ready'

Population growth in the Olympia area would help the company capitalize on its brand, said Ken Caldwell, the company's franchise vice president.

"Olympia is primed and ready," he said.

Considering South Sound's growth, "it could easily become a two-store market," Squire said.

The store in Silverdale brings in consistent year-round business because of six-day-a-week cafe lunches and business catering, owner Kelly White said. The stores are closed Sundays.

The stores' business peaks for the Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter seasons, Squire said.

Franchises work best in smaller markets in which store owners can quickly establish a profile by circulating among business groups, Caldwell said.

"It's all about believing in the brand, knowing your market and building relationships in the community," he said.

The company operates 283 company-owned stores and 103 franchise location in 37 states. It is identifying 100 new markets through its expansion program.

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