A fruitful gift

By Vanessa Denha Garmo

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After years of purchasing Edible Arrangements® as gifts for his wife and his clients, Salim Gasso decided to buy his own franchise location.  “It’s such a special and thoughtful gift,” he said.  “I love the business world. I love chocolate, and I love fruit so, to have it all in one was enough for me to jump on board.”

He opened a location in Rochester Hills on Walton Blvd this past June. There are more than 2,000 locations around the country with some located internationally. 

As a practicing lawyer and real estate broker and owner of a few other businesses, Gasso wanted to venture into something new. “I have a passion for business and told myself I’d rather look back in 10 years and say I tried versus I wonder,” he said. “I love the uniqueness of what we offer. We are not just a player in the fruit bouquet sector. We are the industry leader and the standard; I love that! I also love the joy and ‘wow’ feeling and expressions people get when the receive or see our product. It’s a great feeling knowing that you had a hand in bringing joy to someone else.”

Along with other Edible Arrangements® franchisees, Gasso is full swing into a busy season. “Our business thrives during the holiday season,” he said.  “Besides taking gifts to someone’s house for an occasion, Christmas is huge for us in regards to business gifting. Most people get tired of sending and receiving the same old bulky gift baskets. Not to mention you’d have to figure out your own delivery, while we offer delivery. Valentines and Mother’s Day are our “super bowls” but the Thanksgiving/Christmas season is also huge for us.” 

According to the company website, as a teenager, Tariq Farid, founder and CEO of the company worked in a local McDonald’s for several years, and it was there he learned the power of business systemization. His own entrepreneurial experience began in the late 1980s when, at age 17, he used a $5,000 loan from his parents and family friends to purchase a local flower shop. Within two years, Tariq was operating four highly successful stores. He launched the first Edible Arrangements® store in 1999 in Connecticut. 

“He was inspired by the convergence of three trends,” Gasso reiterated, “Americans’ growing consumption of fresh fruit, the robust growth in the specialty foods market, and the increasing amount of money Americans were spending on gifts.”

The first Edible Arrangements® franchised location opened in 2001 in Massachusetts. “Tariq’s personal support for franchisees has been a hallmark of the Edible Arrangements® success story,” said Gasso. “He regularly spends time in the stores to stay connected with owners and guests, and to understand the unique challenges each store faces in an ever-changing marketplace. Edible Arrangements has been recognized as an industry leader since its inception.” 

The company has ranked first in its category in Entrepreneur magazine’s annual ‘Franchise 500’ for the past nine years and also places regularly in Entrepreneur’s Top 50 of “Fastest-Growing Franchises” and “America’s Top Global Franchises.” Edible Arrangements® was named one of the Top 5 businesses in Connecticut by Inc. magazine’s first Hire Power Awards in 2012 and also ranked in Inc.’s Top 5,000 fastest growing privately-held companies for eight consecutive years.

The business caters to everyone and every possible occasion. “Even the ‘just because’ gifts,” said Gasso. “Whether you are in high school looking for a “prom-posal” idea or the spouse that forgot a birthday or anniversary, or if someone you know lost a loved one. Fruit and chocolate are for everyone. We also sell frozen yogurt and smoothies now, so there is literally something for everyone in our business.”

The company is marketed at the corporate level, advertising products on a national level. “Brand recognition is huge for us,” said Gasso. “It’s rare to run into someone who has never heard of us let alone who has not seen our arrangements somewhere.”

Gasso also does his own part to promote his product and business as a franchisee, which he says is essential to success.  “I am very blessed to have such great family and friends who want to support my store,” he said. 

His location should not be a deterrent, summarized Gasso. He is able to service any customers from any city. He works with other franchisees in other cities and together they fill orders. “Now you can support your fellow Chaldean and still make sure your friend/loved one in California, Arizona, or wherever gets an arrangement,” he said.