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Santa Maria Sun / Biz Spotlight

The following article was posted on February 7th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 49

Spotlight on: Edible Arrangements

George Muranaka, owner

By JOE PAYNE

Decades ago, longtime Santa Marian George Muranaka and his wife, Linda, talked about opening up a franchise one day.

Once their kids grew up and left the house, they had the time and money to invest, Muranaka said, but they weren’t about to drop more than $1 million for a McDonald’s franchise. They came across the company that suited them perfectly almost by chance, he explained.


TASTY TREATS
Santa Marian George Muranaka and his wife opened an Edible Arrangements franchise in December of 2017, and the business has already taken off, he said.
PHOTO BY JOE PAYNE

“When our youngest daughter just recently got married, her husbands’ family all lives in Conneticut, coincidentally, where the Edible Arrangements headquarters are,” he said. “We sent them an Edible Arrangement. After that, they raved so much about it, we thought we’d look into it.”

Edible Arrangements was founded by Tariq Farid, who worked for his mother in her floral shop, Muranaka said. The idea was to shape fresh fruit into arrangements similar to what Farid put together in his mother’s shop, with seasonal varieties, chocolate dipping fruit, and cute gifts to go along with the sweet treat.

The franchise opened in December of last year, and though business started slow, the Muranakas did see a spike for Christmas as people were looking for gifts. They opened their  store in the shopping center at the corner of College Drive and Betteravia Avenue in Santa Maria.

Muranaka and his wife had planned to open up shop in one of the new locations developing on Betteravia in the Enos Ranch development, but there wouldn’t be any stores available until later this summer, he said. So they went with the current location, which is around 1,500 square feet, about the largest footprint that Edible Arrangements recommends for a shop.

“The location itself is fantastic, we love it,” he said. “We are next to Jamba Juice and Starbucks, but the foot traffic is great. I’ll take that.”

Edible Arrangements offers more than just juicy-sweet showpieces—but depending on the tier of franchise, there are also fruit smoothies and frozen yogurt blends as well.

The staff chop up fresh fruit on the spot to make visually stimulating fruit arrangements, like pineapple daisies or cantaloupe leaves, and there’s always some fruit left over, Muranaka explained. That fruit is used in the smoothies, blended up with bananas, frozen yogurt, and powdered flavors. They also make parfaits, fruit salads, and truffles as well.

“Everything that we sell we make here in house, in the store,” he said.

There are seven part-time employees working for Muranaka at Edible Arrangements, and his daughter Melissa manages the shop. But for the businesses’s busy days—like Valentine’s Day—he needs to call in some extra help.

“Valentine’s Day is supposed to be crazy, but we’ve already seen that traffic and we’re still a week out,” he said. “The last week and a half has probably been the best week and a half that we’ve had.”

Muranaka said that he’d have extra delivery drivers on call for Valentine’s Day, and several extra people working the store. Beyond that, he’s also renting two refrigerated trailers to house both the unprepared fruit and the finished arrangements.

“So normally we would have six or seven flats of strawberries. For that week, we’ll probably need 120 flats of strawberries,” he said. “Pineapples, we probably have three or four cases—we’re going to need 40.”

The holidays that give Edible Arrangements most of their business are usually the same as those that give florists a boom: Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas. But the arrangements are also popular as gifts for birthdays, weddings, or businesses that gift to clients.

The location is the first on the Central Coast, Muranaka explained, and he and his wife hope to expand with another location in San Luis Obispo later this year. But first, they wanted to set up shop in Santa Maria.

“I grew up in Santa Maria, so I know the clientele quite well,” he said. “As much as you’d think it’s a farming community, it’s not just a farming community.

“There’s a lot of families that are many generations in Santa Maria, and also as a lot of families may not spend a lot of money when you think about luxuries, but when it’s for a loved one or a family member, they’re going to spend money,” he added. 

Highlights: 

• The Santa Maria Elks Club announced the theme of its annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade, dubbing 2018 the year of “Denim and Diamonds” at an unveiling event on Jan. 31 in Santa Maria. The rodeo is scheduled for May 31 through June 3, including a variety of events like the annual Beard-a-Reno contest, the Elks Rodeo Queen contest, several days of the rodeo, the parade, and dinner dance at the Elks Club. More info: (805) 925-4125 or elcsrec.com.

• The city of Buellton will have its annual State of the City presentation on Feb. 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Santa Ynez Valley Mariott. The talk will be delivered by Buellton City Manager Marc Bierdzinski. The event includes lunch at the Marriott, which is located at 555 McMurray Road, Buellton. More information is available at (805) 688-7829 or kathy@buellton.org

Managing Editor Joe Payne wrote this week’s Biz Spotlight. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, mail, or email at spotlight@santamariasun.com.




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