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Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Pay Attention To Spot Opportunity

In a move some saw as twisted logic, Anne Beiler launches what will become a pretzel empire. More...

Key Question:


Watch buying behavior.

Anne made an observation that had a profound impact on the rest of her life.  People were buying more pretzels than slices of pizza. Anne even told the owner she was working for that they should stop selling pizza. And though it took him several weeks to agree with her, after they focused on pretzels, sales increased.

Anne's insight from that experience was that plenty of money could be made by selling one simple bread product.

Q:  The reason you start a business is critical to the results you will achieve financially and personally.  Why did Anne start a business?

A: We learned from the television show that her husband Jonus wanted to start a ministry that would need funding. In our interview we learned that he was burned out and wanted to do something other than work just for money. His idea was to offer family and marriage counseling on a free or low-cost basis to the people in his own community and target his efforts to the religious group he has been part of all of his life.

It makes perfect sense that he would want to offer his services to many who could not afford to pay. The couple decided that Anne would work to earn enough to support their simple personal lifestyle and the counseling center. It was while working for someone else that Anne had the idea to start her own business making and selling pretzels.

Q: Why is the reason you start a business important?

A: The motivation behind starting a business will guide your decisions. Since Auntie Anne's was born to give, she could not comply with the bankers' requests to stop giving away money. Had her purpose been to make money for herself, she would have had no trouble working with a bank. The reason you start a business will be clear to others. Anne has been able to attract franchisees who also want to work in a business that is committed to giving. People want to spend their time doing something important.

On the surface, Auntie Anne's sells a fabulous tasting pretzel, but so much more is happening here. For example, jobs are being created for entry level workers; and, the franchisees are encouraged to find charities in their own communities in which they can invest. It is very difficult for most companies to recruit franchisees and this has never been the case for Auntie Anne. She not only has a great product, she has a heart for people and this is appealing. Anne believes there is power is the concept of giving. This power energizes people at a level which never could be achieved if the goal is simply to make money. If you start a business, you must be interested in other people – these are your customers – more than you are yourself.

Think about it

Do you think you might spot some opportunities if you stopped long enough to question everything you are now doing? What should you stop doing to make room for what could add more value to your business?
Why is the reason you start a business important?

Why did you start your business in the first place? Have you achieved that goal? Do you think you have the best reason to be in business? Do you think selfishness has held you back in any way? What can you do to be more generous?

Clip from: Auntie Annes Pretzels

Anne Beiler says that everyone is teachable and lovable.

Gap, Pennsylvania:   An angel investor stood by her while bank after bank turned her down because the purpose of this business was to make money then give it away.

Meet Anne Beiler, founder f Auntie Anne's Pretzels.  Anne's generous spirit is infused throughout this company and it is their secret ingredient.  Anne has proven that her franchisees want to run a business built on love. While most franchise companies have to market to find new owners, Anne has to turn away hundreds who want to buy into her concept. Products topped with her love of people make Anne Beiler a leadership example to follow.

In 1988 Anne Beiler turned a mistake into a new product. Today, Auntie Anne's Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels are baked fresh in over 800 locations and are the perfect high carbohydrate, low-fat, back-to-the-basics snack so many people crave. Customers will part with over $500 million a year to enjoy this hot treat.

So now, we travel out to Gap in Pennsylvania's Amish Country; it is a simpler place. And though it may be an unlikely place to be running a fast-growing business, maybe there are lessons here for all of us in these hostile times.  This business is based on love and on giving. This is the American Dream. It has come alive for all the right reasons.

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Auntie Anne's Inc.

Anne Beiler, Founder

160-A Route 41
Gap, PA 17527

Visit our web site:

Office: 717-435-1610

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1988

Pay Attention To Spot Opportunity

HATTIE: (In the Studio) Hi, I'm Hattie Bryant. We've been on search for the best entrepreneurs in the country since 1994. Back in the fall of 1996, we found a little woman with big revenues. Like so many of us, she's a baby boomer, and today her business is ahead of the curve. She has a succession plan in place, and it's working. In the next 30 minutes, we revisit our first interview with the founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels and then return for her to tell us about her successful transition from day-to-day operations to her work now as keeper of the vision.

Employee: OK. Everybody ready to go? Ready to open the store?

Employee #2: We can close it--

Employee #3: Hot tray.

HATTIE (Voiceover): Every day, the doors open and the cash registers ring at nearly 800 locations of Auntie Anne's Pretzels. Anne Beiler has something customers want. They will spend $232 million to enjoy over 100 million pretzels per year. Her hand-rolled soft pretzels come in an assortment of flavors, including the traditional recipe with salt and this caramel almond I tried.

ANNE BEILER: --dip it into the caramel sauce. Now I want to see you eat your first bite.

HATTIE: I've never had one of these before.

ANNE: Well, you're going to be pleased, I think, if you like--this is a sweet one, of course.

HATTIE: It's fabulous. And this is low fat?

ANNE: Yes. Isn't it great?

HATTIE: Low-fat.

HATTIE (Voiceover): The Dutch and German who settled this part of Pennsylvania have been enjoying soft pretzels for two centuries, but it took Jonas Beiler's dream in 1988 to open a counseling center and Anne Beiler's desire to fund her husband's non-profit work to bring this delicious regional treat to the rest of the country and to the world. She's been baking since she was eight years old, and by the time she was 12, Anne's pies and cakes were sold at the Lancaster County Farmer's Market.

ANNE: When I was working for this other man, I was manager at his farmer's market, I noticed that the pretzels were selling faster than anything else, and so I talked to him about just selling pretzels, and he's like, 'Well, I don't think we can just, you know--I don't think there's enough money in just pretzels.' So after a few weeks or so of talking to him, I finally convinced him that, yes, let's get rid of the pizza and just do pretzels, and we did, and our sales continued to grow.

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