SBTM October 2015 - Page 26

SPECIAL FEATURE Candy Bouquet International – Janet and Jim Wheeler Taking a Sweet Business Idea and Making It Even Sweeter By Barbara R. Davis and Colleen O’Brien Flowers are nice, Balloons are okay, For a lasting impression, send a Candy Bouquet! Candy Bouquet International’s Owner Janet Wheeler and CEO/In House Counsel Jim Wheeler present completed Candy Bouquets, standing among their container inventory. Photo by Gwen Juarez W hile searching for a family business that could be used as a retirement vehicle and also something that would incorporate the individual talents of their children, Janet and Jim Wheeler were excited to find out about Candy Bouquet International (CBI). By all outward appearances, CBI seemed like the perfect choice in meeting all of the Wheelers’ desired criteria. It was already successful; it had colleagues from around the world that they could connect with and share ideas; and it was fun, colorful, and loaded with so much variety that there was no way they could ever get bored. Best of all, as an added bonus, they knew it was something that would make a lot of people happy. After all, who doesn’t smile when being given a beautiful gift basket filled with a vast array of flavorful chocolates and hard candy?! This aspect made the deal even sweeter. 24 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ OCTOBER 2015 ] After buying the Candy Bouquet International franchise rights for the Greater Houston Area in 2010, the Wheelers began their family business with everyone pitching in. Outfitting the top floor of their Midtown Houston office building for their 1800-square-foot ‘Candyland’, Janet picked out the candy appropriate pink wall colors with chocolate brown accents. A year later, the original founder invited the Wheelers to buy the franchisor’s rights. Jim explains, “I tell everyone I bought CBI as a Christmas gift for Janet in 2011, but really, that’s simply when the deal finalized.” Not long after buying the franchisor’s rights, the Wheelers discovered some problems that were not apparent in their original due diligence. Apparently, the successful company was not as successful as they had thought when they had first become a franchisee. Vendors were holding whole pallets of products and were tired of not being paid the storage fees. The debts