I scream, You scream, We all scream for… Froyo!

Usually after an hour or so after finishing dinner, the cravings become too strong for many Wilmingtonians to resist.  Their sweet tooth’s get the best of them as they take the streets to find that sweet frozen treat.  With this new age of developing technology and blossoming new ideas comes the best thing to happen to dessert since the hot fudge sundae—frozen yogurt, or more commonly known as Froyo.

Fuzzy Peach filled that void for the Wilmington community in 2010.  Three recent UNCW graduates revolutionized the dessert by providing an array of alternatives to the typical banana split everyone has grown up on.  Fuzzy Peach is a self-serve frozen yogurt bar that offers over thirty different frozen yogurt flavors and toppings to create the ultimate dessert, satisfying picky eaters and creative minds throughout the port city.  Aside from providing delicious indulgences, Fuzzy Peach also has quite a unique interior that enhances the overall experience of the customer.  Visitors to the establishment are greeted with bright colors on the walls and sleek furniture to dine upon.  While enjoying their deserts, customers are also provided with fun family games, such as connect four, to ensure fulfillment.  To complement the relaxing music that puts customers at ease as they approach the front door, their comfortable rocking chairs outside the store that make it the perfect destination for a relaxing summer evening.

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What started as a local hangout for UNCW students has grown to be a go-to destination for people and families of all ages.  However, what is more impressive about the success of the franchise is the advertising, or lack thereof, that has gotten them to be so well known.  With the exception of a billboard that was recently installed, Fuzzy Peach has relied heavily on the simple “word of mouth” to endorse their brand.  While competitors such as Brrrberry Frozen Yogurt have resorted to paid radio advertisements in promoting their product, Fuzzy Peach has become a local powerhouse the old fashioned way through great customer service, welcoming atmosphere, and overall quality of the product.  Over the past couple years, Fuzzy Peach has expanded to seven different locations spread out across the Wilmington area with nine other locations across coastal North Carolina planned to open by winter 2013.

Zachary AbramoMeaghan BeamJessica ButnerJackson Lane

Freakers the New Coozie?

Established in 2011 and proudly located in Wilmington, NC we introduce to you….the Freaker! It’s the new cool coozie that is the ultimate one size fits all. Starting in Wilmington, NC this company started from a local start-up business with a vision to command and conquer and now has become a global product that is creating a high demand. In just one year it has grown exponentially into a money-making machine. How did they do it? Well first and foremost it is a very handy product that is way more interesting than any coozie we’ve ever had and can fit on any drink possible keeping it insulated and your hand protected. Secondly they have a clear-cut brand personality that is all about being unique to yourself and having as much fun as possible and they love to show it. They also have a unique way of marketing the Freaker from a truck that they turned into a home and drove around the country having grilled cheese parties at various trade shows coupled with various marketing videos on their website that show off their brand. They have approximately 200 stores across the nation with global distributors in Canada and Japan. It also helps that all Freakers are made in the USA helping local businesses and having a monopoly on it doesn’t hurt either because they have a patent on the product as well.

If you watched the video the guy is Zach Crain the founder of Freakers, and as you can see he is a highly eccentric individual with a weird sense of humor. He is obviously very confident about his personality and has branded his product with it. The show “Shark Tank” allows business owners to pitch their ideas to billionaire entrepreneurs and get a large investment in return for a percentage of the business. Zach fails to grab any of the investors because they aren’t sure that he will be able to return on their investment. However, he was able to impress the potential investors with his impressive sales record of over 300,000 dollars in 13 months. So, one thing is clear: Zach Crain and Freaker USA have no where to go but up!

Lauren HabigAlly WaltonHannah EureGene LeeErin Kiffmeyer

Becoming the Beast of Hollywood East

In the spirit of the holiday season, we decided this was the perfect opportunity to talk about one of Wilmington’s greatest treasures: EUE/Screen Gems Studios and Wilmington Regional Film Commission, Inc (WRFC). These businesses not only help improve the Wilmington economy but they also are huge supporters of the local community. Through various strategic tactics as well as some unintentional local promotion, the film industry is a driving force behind many of the local businesses in Wilmington.

It should also be mentioned how many jobs EUE/Screen Gems Studio has helped create in our area. From cast, crew, and extras to the creation of new organizations, such as the WRFC, Wilmington’s job market expanded immensely when the EUE/Screen Gems Studio set up shop in 1996. EUE/Screen Gems Studios still create job opportunities for the Wilmington community today, and even offer UNCW film students the opportunity to improve their resume by guiding tour groups through the studio lot.

To gain more insight into what community outreach WRFC is involved we spoke with one of their employees, Caleb Ward. He provided us with a quick explanation of how the WRFC works with local businesses. When movies or television shows begin their production in Wilmington, the WRFC provides them with a directory of local businesses. Local businesses do have to apply and pay for their appearance in the directory. However, for many local small businesses the benefits of being included in the publication immensely outweigh the monetary commitment. Local businesses such as Strickland’s Window Coverings have become a go-to for many productions because of their ability to keep up with the fast pace of the film industry’s demands. We aren’t talking months or even weeks, we are talking about days. Ward explained that it was Strickland’s production of a unique set of blinds that that paved the way for a promising business relationship with the film industry. The blinds ordered were to resemble those used in the White House during President Abraham Lincoln’s term. Strickland’s provided these blinds to the production company within two days of the order being placed. Strickland’s is not the only local business with a story like this. Julia’s Florist has seen a jump in business since tapping into the film industry for sales. Owner, Dana Cook, told Star News that she has begun receiving one to two film-related orders a day. To a small business this small increase in daily orders can have a large impact on their yearly sales. The WRFC recently hosted a brunch for local businesses not yet included in the directory. At the brunch, small business owners heard testimony from their fellow community members about what being involved with the film industry has done for them. This experiential marketing technique boosted the WRFC’s brand credibility with the local business owners who were potentially hearing from them for the first time. As a result, over half of the businesses in attendance were persuaded to join the directory.In addition to the opportunities created by the WRFC, the film industry brings about another kind of attention to the Wilmington area. With more major movies and television shows coming to the area, A-list celebrities are appearing more frequently. In the last year Wilmington has hosted: Jennifer Aniston, Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Duhamel, Colbie Smulders, Emma Roberts, Channing Tatum, Julianne Hough, Ryan Seacrest, and Fergie. Just to name a few! Celebrities, now more than ever, have platforms that allow them to share their lives with fans. This platform is largely created by social media. Celebrities use their accounts for a variety of purposes including further extending their brand, raising awareness about different issues, and engaging with their fan base.

Recently, the local business community in Wilmington has been able to benefit from these extensive platforms because celebrities have been sharing their local experiences via their various platforms. Celebrities, like Emma Roberts and Colbie Smulders, tweeted about North Carolina coffee joints that impressed them. This kind of publicity is remarkable because the celebrities are sharing their own unfiltered opinions and there is no telling how many people it could reach. Local businesses that impress the celebrities are often additionally covered by various news sources, such as Star News and The Examiner. This is added news coverage that wouldn’t be possible without EUE/Screen Gems Studios.

There is one last tidbit that we simply cannot leave out. By bringing the film industry to Wilmington, EUE/Screen Gems Studios has facilitated the opportunity for the community to benefit from multiple philanthropic ventures. For example, when the filming of Iron Man 3 took over New Hanover County Medical Center the “producers reimbursed the hospital for staffing cost and made a donation to the center’s foundation, which supports various hospital programs.” Many other productions and actors have taken part in charity events that support local causes, such as One Tree Hill and Safe Haven.
There are so many wonderful benefits of having EUE/Screen Gems Studios a part of our local community. Not only does is bring in an A-list crowd but it will continue to help boost the local economy and benefit local businesses. With the growing popularity of EUE/Screen Gems Studio, we are hopeful that the continuous influx of celebs and big movie/tv productions will help keep Wilmington, NC on the map of places to visit!

- Alexandra HussCaroline MerrillAlyssa MorrelloLauren Van TrigtDann Williams

Pepsi: Born in the Carolinas

Many large brands use their historic background to promote their product. Pepsi Cola, a known trademark product distributed all over the world, uses their product’s birthplace to market and draw in more customers. Pepsi recognizes the push to buy local as they advertise heavily in North Carolina, as well as adjacent states. “Born in the Carolinas” is an official trademark of Pepsi Cola. New Bern, North Carolina is the location where Pepsi was first invented in 1898 by a local pharmacist and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate named Caleb Bradham. According to the official Pepsi Store website, http://www.pepsistore.com/, the “Birthplace of Pepsi is owned and operated by the Minges Bottling Group located in Ayden, North Carolina, and first opened the doors to the Birthplace of Pepsi Store on the 100th Anniversary of Pepsi-Cola in 1998.” Seventeen years after the invention by Caleb Bradham, a man named Roy C. Megargel, a well-known broker, bought out Pepsi-Cola as well as the Pepsi trademark and immediately formed the Pepsi-Cola Corporation as it is known today.
When Pepsi was founded in 1898, it was originally called “Brad’s Drink” and was later patented as Pepsi-Cola. In recent years Pepsi has released a series of new ad campaigns aimed at reviving sales of its brand. Sales of the Pepsi beverage have recently been declining compared to its number 1 rival Coca Cola. To more effectively advertise and increase sales, Pepsi marketed a new advertising campaign that aims to “capitalize on rising soft drink sales,” which have been in tight competition with the variety of Diet Coke products. One of the most recognizable TV commercials openly takes a shot at their rival Coca-Cola brans, by starring Santa Claus shunning a Coca-Cola in favor of a Pepsi. The company has also since spent close to $60 million on a promotional deal with the popular show “The X Factor.”Coca-cola still outsells Pepsi worldwide and in most of the US but there are exceptions such as India and Guatemala. Also, in Buffalo, New York, Pepsi outsells Coca-Cola nearly 2:1. Pepsi continues to attempt to improve their brand as they compete with Coca-Cola and other soft drinks.

Pepsi has had a vast variety of slogans over the years. The first slogan was “Twice as Much for a Nickel” and lasted from 1939 to 1950. Since then, there have been many more Pepsi slogans including “Say Pepsi, Please” (1957), “The Choice is Yours” (1992), and “Live for Now” (2012). In the 90′s they also had a mascot named “Pepsiman” who appeared in 12 different commercials delivering Pepsi to quenched individuals. He even appeared in a few video games as well before they retired him.
Even though Pepsi has practiced many marketing strategies over the years in an attempt to outsell competitors, they have always stayed loyal to North Carolina. With the economy in such a state, local governments are urging citizens to shop local. Pepsi has recognized this marketing fad and has hopped the bandwagon. Though there are many Pepsi distributing centers worldwide, the birthplace will always be New Bern, North Carolina, which makes “Born in the Carolinas” a lasting slogan.

-Sasha De Vecchi, Lindsay Gallagher, Jay Reilly, Cary Welborn

Target Goes Local

As people all over the country start buying presents for the holidays, it becomes clear what consumers value most in the products that they buy. For some, it’s all about getting the best price, while others want to support small businesses and know where the products really come from. Target delivers the best of both worlds to their customers.

Target offers a variety of products at a great price for sophisticated design and style by the top designers in the country. Neiman Marcus is the next design company to join Target in their mission to offer affordable clothing at a price tag everyone loves for the holidays. And to support local businesses with their own flair, Target created “The Shops at Target” in May 2012, selling products designed by five small businesses from every corner of the country such as Polka Dog Bakery, Privet House, and The Candy Store. With a focus on the stories behind these small businesses, Target fostered consumer needs to buy unique, local products of these cities at the nearest Target. These businesses come from very different places with different stories to tell and share beyond their hometowns. The integration of these shops into Target stores makes it easy for buyers to find the latest video game for their sons and an inimitable gift for their eccentric aunt all in the same place!

This is why Target appeals to those consumers who value commodities that say something about who they are. Featuring the exclusive products offered by these entrepreneurs makes the consumer feel that they are buying something truly authentic, because they are produced directly from their stores.

Beyond providing convenience to customers, Target has given these small businesses a huge opportunity to grow. Take The Candy Store, for example. They have the chance to share a little piece of their brand with people all over the United States, even while their business continues to blossom in San Francisco, California. On The Candy Shop’s Facebook, they posted “Think big, shop small”, which seems to mimic Target’s brand, fashioning a symbiotic relationship. The owners, Diane and Brian Campbell, say their products are ones that “can’t be found anywhere else,” just as Target, offers products that stand out. Even more, the integration of “The Shops at Target” promotes an idea, and whenever a company can tailor an idea to their design, it becomes honorable and memorable.

All in all, Target attracts a wide variety of consumers by conveniently offering authentic brands that range from local businesses to luxury retail designers all in one store. With the incorporation of low prices and the pleasantly unexpected variety of small business products, Target definitely proves that they live by their slogan which is “expect more pay less”.

- Rachel Betterbid, Nicole Betterbid, Lucy Rojo, Sierra Scellato, Shauna Seaver

Black Thursday… Wait What?

With another Thanksgiving coming to an end, the faux holiday known as Black Friday has arrived.  Black Friday is the notorious day that starts the month long holiday shopping season.  Retail stores all over the country open their doors in the wee hours of the morning to let hoards of people file in for one of the biggest savings days of the year.

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Usually, stores would open their doors any time from midnight until 4:00 am and stay open the entire day.  However, over the past few years, stores have started opening their doors earlier and earlier to get a jump on their competition.  Last year, some stores opened up as early as 10:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day but no one had too much of a problem with it because Thanksgiving festivities are usually over by then.  This year, on the other hand, people are outraged by how early some stores are opening.

In an effort to get an early jump on their competition and make more money, stores such as Kmart, Sears, and Wal-Mart opened to the public at 8:00 pm on Thanksgiving.  This has not only angered employees of these stores who were looking forward to being with their families, but the general public as well.  There have been protests at Wal-Mart’s all over the country for better treatment of the workers, which steamed from having to work on Thanksgiving night.  Also, Kmart has announced that they will be open from 6:00 am until 4:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day and then open up again at 8:00 that night until they close at 11:00 the next night.  This only gives workers four hours to be with their families on what is one of the most family oriented holidays of the year.

The other new thing with Black Friday sales over the past few years is weekend events.  Some stores, such as GAP, are having their sales last through the whole weekend.  GAP’s “Bright Friday Event” is a take on Black Friday that lasts from Friday morning until Sunday night.  A lot of car companies do this as well.  Some Toyota dealerships are having Black Friday weekend events that start on Thanksgiving Day and go all the way through Monday.

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These companies know that big sales attract more people.  The longer the sales last, the more traffic they will get in their stores.  Black Friday is the single biggest sale day of the year.  It has definitely grown over the past few years and will probably continue to grow in the years to come.  Let’s just hope it doesn’t grow too much or the day we all know as Thanksgiving could very well turn into “Black Thursday.”

Zachary AbramoMeaghan BeamJessica ButnerJackson Lane

Thankful for Thanksgiving Brands

Thanksgiving means lots of different things to different people.  For some, it is a chance to celebrate all that we are thankful for, for others it is an opportunity to reflect upon our nation’s beginning. Most people use the occasion to reconnect with family and friends but there is one unifying factor that drives the anticipation for all: the food.

From the first Thanksgiving in 1612, dinner has been the highlight of the event.  While it’s not likely that our founders dined on what is now considered to be the “traditional” Thanksgiving feast, they were no doubt thankful for the bounty. Today, it is not only the food that drives the holiday, but the brands that continue to supply our Thanksgiving favorites through the years. Thanksgiving staples include: stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls and, of course, Turkey! And don’t forget to leave room for the Pumpkin pie.

(picture credit to UVA.edu)

Most would agree that it’s just not Thanksgiving without a turkey, and Butterball has been providing the Thanksgiving bird since it was founded in 1940. Today, Butterball is the largest turkey producer in the U.S, providing 20 percent of the total turkey production in the country. Another brand essential to Thanksgiving dinner is Kraft. Kraft, which was founded in 1903, not only provides the Stove Top brand stuffing that complements the turkey so well, but Kraft also makes the French-fried onions that no green bean casserole would be complete without. Ocean Spray serves as the go-to brand for anything cranberry, including the cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving table, and when you need something to soak up the extra gravy on the plate, chances are you’re reaching for a Crescent Roll – courtesy of Pillsbury. Finally, the Libby’s canned food brand has been around since 1869, and Thanksgiving chefs all over the country swear by their canned pumpkin in the perfect Pumpkin Pie recipe.

Just thinking about this tried and true combination of Thanksgiving brands is enough to make most people’s mouths water! So abandon your diets, put on your elastic-waisted pants and cut another slice of Turkey, Thanksgiving only comes once a year!

Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appetite!

- Lauren Habig, Ally Walton, Hannah Eure, Gene Lee, Erin Kiffmeyer