This annual list of the best “paint and sip” franchises was revised and updated on March 24, 2021.
Paint and sip businesses provide a fun, creative alternative for customers looking for a different sort of night out. They run group art lessons, usually in painting, where people can socialize while learning some artistic skills. 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, or lack of it. 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 franchises vary, but the fundamentals are the same. Customers come along to a studio or bar where art materials, instruction, and inspiration are provided. 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.
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.
There’s limited data on paint and sip franchises, as this is a small sector without central organization. There were an estimated 200 businesses providing this service in 2014, and anecdotal data suggests that the majority of their clients are women.
The COVID-19 pandemic inevitably hit these businesses hard. As an in-person social activity involving groups of strangers, there was no way for franchises to keep running during restrictions. Some pivoted online, but this isn’t a model that can support a lot of scattered small groups, as the regular business could. During an economic downturn, expenditure on leisure activities is likely to fall, and this may hit the surviving paint and sip franchises in the aftermath of the pandemic. That having been said, many consumers are setting aside money to do more fun activities once they’re vaccinated and restrictions pass, and paint and sip classes might be able to benefit from this.
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 Top “Paint and Sip” Franchises of 2021
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 275 (down from the previously reported total of 301), of which three are 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 was at 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 last reported number of locations was 75 in 2019, of which one was company-owned and all were located in the US.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
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.