This annual list of the best “paint and sip” franchises was revised and updated on April 18, 2023.
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Paint and sip businesses provide a fun, creative alternative for customers seeking a different night out. They run group art lessons, usually in painting, where people can socialize while learning some artistic skills or just enjoying the chance to unleash their creativity. With the wine flowing and the brushes out, you can have a go at art in a relaxed, encouraging atmosphere, regardless of your level of talent. They’ve proved popular options for parties, quirky date nights, or those looking to get out of the house and meet like-minded people. It’s about learning to enjoy art, rather than becoming a dedicated painter.
The details of the franchise vary, but the fundamentals are the same. Customers come along to a studio or bar where art materials, instruction, and inspiration are provided. There’s usually a theme to the session, whether that’s painting a particular object or imitating the style of a specific artist. If the venue doesn’t have a liquor license, then customers bring their own drinks. What follows is a 2-4 hour session of drink, chatting, and creativity, in which the art gives a focus to a wider social experience, the social experience helps to drive artistic inspiration, or both feed off each other in a moment of fun alchemy.
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One of the key markets for paint and sip is group bookings. These can be work colleagues, family groups, or gangs of friends. Marketing group bookings is a good way to appeal to different customer sectors and to ensure that you can run profitable sessions with a full set of customers. It’s also possible to broaden the customer base through less alcoholic events, such as children’s art parties or daytime coffee and canvas groups for moms and retirees.
As of 2021, there were over 700 paint and sip businesses in the US, employing over 4,400 staff. The industry is expected to be worth around $130 million in 2023, its highest value to date, with 4.1% growth for the year. The industry has grown slower than the overall economy, but faster than average for the consumer goods and services sector. This has been driven by a rise in leisure time and disposable income, which means that people have both the time and the money to try out something new and are looking for interesting hobbies. By providing an unusual, creative combination of accessible activities, paint and sip franchises have carved out a small but distinctive niche.
Covid inevitably hit these businesses hard, and it took two years to return to something like pre-pandemic revenues. Some businesses pivoted online in that time, but this wasn’t a model that could support a lot of scattered small groups, as the regular business could. A lot of the pleasure of paint and sip comes from being around other people. Despite this, the industry has survived intact and bounced back from the pandemic. Many consumers set aside money to do more fun activities once they were vaccinated and restrictions passed, and some of them are now heading out to paint and sip evenings. In an increasingly stressful world, art can provide a great distraction and an emotional outlet.
As a service that’s definitely not vital to everyday life, paint and sip is the sort of industry that could be vulnerable in an economic downturn, and with the outlook currently uncertain, the owners of these businesses will be looking nervously at their bookings. Word is still spreading about this niche activity, so its novelty and the interests of its customers may keep it alive through a downturn, but with costs of materials rising, things may be tough for a little while.
Knowing your customer base is important for this industry. Anecdotal data suggests that the majority of clients are women, for whom the relaxed and creative atmosphere is particularly appealing, and so marketing to them can help you build a customer base. Planting your business close to communities that value both novelty and the arts is important.
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Fees for these franchises are relatively low, but other costs, such as commercial space, staff, and supplies can lead to a substantial initial outlay. You don’t need to be a great artist to run one of these businesses, but you will need staff with knowledge and skills in art, and you’ll need an enthusiasm for the subject. The evenings themselves can be exciting, but like any franchise that looks fun on the surface, remember that there’s a lot of hard work and administration going on behind the scenes.
Some people have argued that this style of business lacks staying power, and given its specific niche and reliance on novelty, it’s certainly not going to turn into one of the big global industries. But there are still signs of growth, and with strategic alliances, a paint and sip business can find good opportunities. As bars and cafes look for ways to draw customers in, paint and sip organizers can find supportive venues who will work with them just to get customers through the door. Other industries’ struggles may provide paint and sip the opportunity it needs to keep growing.
The Top “Paint and Sip” Franchises of 2023
1. Painting with a Twist
Painting with a Twist aims to maintain its leadership status in the paint and sip market with the adoption of SiteZeus, a cloud-based “location intelligence” software application that helps businesses make better decisions by understanding things like “cannibalization” as more locations spring up within a franchise as well as competitor locations, both of which can siphon away customers from an existing location.
This company is the clear leader of the paint and sip concept. Customers bring their own alcohol to drink and can select from more than 8,500 different pieces of artist-produced works to jumpstart their creativity. For those who are not interested in drinking alcohol, any beverage will do, such as coffee or tea.
Founded in 2007 by Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney in Mandeville, Louisiana and franchising since 2009, the number of locations peaked at 303 in 2018 and has since declined to the current total of 225 (down from the previously reported total of 244), of which one is company-owned and all are located in the US.
2. Pinot’s Palette
Pinot’s Palette has come up with all kinds of creative offerings in its approach to paint and sip depending on what’s available around each location. For example, a Chicago location has an animal art night that features experts from the Lincoln Park Zoo to share amazing facts about the animals people are painting. Other locations have branched out beyond painting to include “sip and stitch” with a Chunky Knit Blanket class. Paint your pet nights are also quite popular with this chain.
This company was also the first to roll out a very innovative and robust loyalty rewards program called Pino Perks where patrons accumulate virtual corks that act as a currency to pay for classes, attending special events, merchandise, and more.
Founded in 2009 by Craig Ceccanti, Charles Willis, and Beth Willis in the Montrose area of Houston, Texas and franchising since 2010, the number of locations hit a high of 139 in 2018 and has since declined to the current total of 108 (down from the previously reported total of 134), of which none are company-owned and two are located outside the US.
3. Wine & Design
Wine & Design offers a variety of different programs to serve a wide range of customers. These include Art Buzz for kids, Paint it Forward fundraising events, Team Building for corporate clients, and DIY crafting for those interested in something creative that doesn’t involve producing a standard kind of painting (home décor, drinkware, flower crowns, etc.).
It also offers a full range of private parties such as birthdays, bridal showers, baby showers, romantic date nights, and more. It can also bring the party to any location with its On Wheels program.
Founded in 2010 by Harriet Mills and Emmy Preiss in Raleigh, North Carolina and franchising since then, the number of locations peaked at 75 in 2018 but has since declined to the current total of 59 (down from the previously reported total of 73), of which one is company-owned and all are located in the US.
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The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.