Tampa born football pro trades the pigskin for cupcake franchise

Pros and cons to buying a franchise business

TAMPA - After being signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then released, Tampa-born Fred Reid found success in the Canadian Football League

But nothing lasts forever.

"My football career is coming to an end now.  I really was thinking what I was going to do after football," said Reid.

What Reid decided to do was trade in the pigskin for frosting and open a cupcake shop in Carrollwood.
 
"Me and my wife we sat down and talked about it.  She had a passion for baking, and we decided to go this route," said Reid.

 "Gigi's" in Carrollwood is already getting steady traffic from people treating themselves or friends to the decadent and colorful cupcakes piled high with glittering frosting.

The ever-changing flavor menu should keep them coming back, but the Reids aren't doing this on their own.  They bought into a Nashville-based franchise and are getting help every step of the way.

"We've been to several trainings, and they've come down here and helped us open," said Fred's wife, Lipi.

Bill McKown of the USF Small Business Development Center in Tampa says buying a franchise has many advantages, including the hard-earned wisdom of a proven success.

"Whatever mistakes they've made, they've also come up with solutions, so you don't have to reinvent that wheel yourself," said McKown.

But franchising is not for everyone.  The parent company controls everything from your advertising, signage, decor and even the recipes you can use.

"If you are very much an independent person, if you're a freelancer, this may not work well for you," said McKown.

The Reids are confident they made the right decision. The biggest challenge for Fred Reid post-football is to keep from growing along with his business.

"I have to continuously work out, especially eating these cupcakes and tasting them everyday. I have to keep my training up."

Franchises can require hundreds of thousands of dollars up front, yet are no guarantee of success. McKown says the best research you can do is to ask existing franchisees if they're happy with their business.

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