Monday, December 15, 1997, Vol. 111, No. 232

Local software reseller Local software reseller goes abroad with franchises Boomerang Gameware sells 20 franchise stores in Slovenia By CAMILLE H. GAMBLE The Daily News A Memphis video game and software retailer is taking its business to Slovenia and Croatia in the way of 20 franchise stores. Boomerang Gameware, which sells new and used video games and software and offers trade-in service, opened in 1991 on Park Avenue and expanded with a second store on Germantown Road in 1994. Boomerang owner Jim Kopald said he wanted to further expand his store and decided franchising was the best way to do it. "This concept is better handled if its tightly controlled," Kopald said. "A franchise gives you an owner with a vested interest in the store, as opposed to a manager who is hired and paid by the company. "For that reason, I think franchising is better suited to this, because there is somebody there who actually cares and has an interest. "If I started opening stores outside the Memphis area, I would have to go there and keep a close watch on how things were being done," he said. "I feel like with a franchisee, I will still go to the stores, but I wont have to go as often." Kopald said there was no real reason why he chose to sell stores in Slovenia first. "Weve just been more active over there in that market. We are just now starting to market in the United States," Kopald said. The stores overseas were contracted about six months ago, and the first stores are scheduled to open in March. Kopald said he currently is marketing his concept in the Southeastern United States and hopes to continue selling franchises nationally and internationally. Ree Russell, director of Memphis Export Assistance Center, said its refreshing to see smaller Memphis companies expanding into other parts of the world. Russell said Slovenia is part of the Central European Free Trade Agreement, which also includes Hungary and the Czech and Slovak Republics. Most industrial tariffs were lifted this year in those areas, she said. "Croatia is certainly on its way to developing a market economy," Russell said. "The first companies to go in were trying to rebuild the infrastructure, then we saw the transportation and the tourism sectors emerge. So its very natural to see the consumer markets emerging." Russell said franchising already is very popular in markets such as Poland. "Consumer demand is great, and aggressive and determined franchisers and franchisees will be the deciding factor in the successful development in Croatia and Slovenia, as well," she said. "I think it is very encouraging we are seeing U.S. culture going to these markets," Russell said. "Video games are an excellent vehicle to get them used to what America is about."