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VOL. 117 | NO. 70 | Wednesday, April 9, 2003

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Healthy drink store

Healthy drink store shakes up big business


The Daily News

Enticing customers with the taste of creamy shakes with fewer calories than the usual variety nutritional drink stores are springing up nearly as fast as fitness clubs.

Smoothie King, a Nutritional Lifestyle Center, 3452 Poplar Ave., recently joined the fray.

The franchise likes to refer to its business as similar to fast food but with a bent toward nutrition.

Owner/manager Malcolm Jackson said business is doing well, and he credits much of the stores growth to its location in Poplar Plaza, at Poplar and Highland avenues in East Memphis.

Within a stones throw of the store and also in Poplar Plaza, French Riviera Spa plays host to fitness-conscious individuals daily, many of whom like to begin or end a workout with a cold, protein-enriched drink blended on-the-spot, Jackson said.

We have drinks for both the before- and the after-workout, and thats why they come in here we are a good complement, he said. We have smoothie drinks loaded with energy and carbohydrates, ones that are high in protein.

The store is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays noon to 6 p.m.

Smoothie King offers 44 drink varieties, along with supplement-enriched foods.

All but a couple of the stores drinks contain soy and egg and are low fat, each having less than one gram.

One drink, however, dubbed Hulk, has 950 calories and is made for people who want help gaining weight. Still other drinks are concocted to pump up the immune system.

All the smoothies are mixed in some fashion with vitamins, mineral supplements and fruit from strawberries to bananas to peaches.

A nutritional guide comes with each drink so customers can learn what they are consuming and how it might affect their diets, Jackson said.

Most athletic-minded people are going to be interested in whats in each drink, and they will take their time reading about it beforehand, he said.

Another advantage to the Smoothie Kings location is its ability to capture what the store perceives as its main customer demographic. Within three miles of Smoothie King are several colleges: the University of Memphis, Rhodes College, Crichton College and Christian Brothers University.

We have a lot of athletes football and basketball players and a lot of college kids who are healthy-minded who come in here, Jackson said.

A former stockbroker, Jackson was persuaded by a friend who ran a similar franchise in Tupelo, Miss., to open one of his own. He said the fact there are few health-drink stores in Memphis helps boost sales.

Right now, there is not a lot of (local) competition in this business, and that helps, Jackson said.

But, he said the non-competitive climate might not last long, predicting more stores will open locally in the near future, as they have in many large cities.

Jackson has nine employees and anticipates hiring as many as four more soon.

Smoothie King began in New Orleans in 1973, has 165 franchise locations in 16 states and, according to the companys literature, sells health foods and drinks by the millions.

It has been honored as the No. 1 juice bar in America by Entrepreneurs Magazine for 14 consecutive years.

Jackson said the popularity of the health drink business continues to grow nationally, noting that McDonalds is considering adding a nutritious shake to its menu.

It being that this is our first store in Memphis, most people know we are here, Jackson said. We are just trying to educate the rest about our beverages and what they can do for you.


PROPERTY SALES 56 94 12,852
MORTGAGES 23 50 8,053
BUILDING PERMITS 285 422 30,356
BANKRUPTCIES 23 67 6,131