Part 1: How to Open a Children’s Resale Shop – Is Resale For Me?

This post is Part 1 of a series on How to Open a Children’s Resale Shop. My goal is to prepare those starting their own children’s resale business to make better decisions and achieve greater success. I begin at the very beginning, with self-examination, and proceed all the way to the Grand Opening.

This post will discuss the following topics:

My History and Perspective on Children’s Resale

During a number of my years owning a franchise children’s resale store, I conducted store reviews on behalf of the Franchisor. I spent countless hours visiting and conversing with owners across the country, learning their situations, how they operated, how they fared, and what seemed to differentiate the successful stores from the failing ones. Since then, I’ve been actively conferring on this subject with NextGen colleagues and advisors as we built the NextGen Knowledge Base of best practices.

What strikes me is the considerable importance of a sound start. I’ve come to appreciate how fortunate I was to get off to a good start with my store given my inexperience and level of naivete at the time. While I applaud fellow owners who have had success, my heart goes out to those who’ve failed–more often than not as a result of bad decisions at the start.

Is Children’s Resale the business for us?

Before I begin identifying the personal attributes we* associate with successful owners, I want to confess that I have serious distrust of such profiling. Nothing troubles me more than the cookie-cutter parenting guides that assume all kids are cut of the same cloth and respond equally to the same parenting styles and techniques. My opinion is the same of “fad” management books. There are always exceptions to the rule.

We have identified 6 attributes characteristic of successful children’s resale shop owners. We hope these can lead you in a sober assessment of your strengths and limitations as you weigh a go/no-go decision. Can you succeed in the absence of these attributes? Yes, but you would be well advised to find a dependable manager who does have them.

1. A people person. You should be approachable, open, warm and engaging by nature. You need to enjoy talking to people and possess good interpersonal skills as you will be interacting with individuals all day long on both the buying and selling ends.

2. Resale and parenting experience. You have shopped resale, consignment, second-hand-stores, etc. to purchase items for your children when they were young.

3. Savvy bargain hunter. You are a bargain hunter by nature and comfortable negotiating a fair price.

4. You are organized. You have a sense of how things should look and be ordered.

5. Stamina. You have the stamina to be on your feet for long periods of a time.

6. Multi-tasker. You are comfortable tending to many things at once.

What will it take to open my own kids resale shop?

A children’s resale shop can be a rewarding experience both personally and financially. Customers are repeatedly singing your praises for that beautiful dress, for having just the toy they were looking for, and for the considerable savings they enjoy. They will voice their appreciation for the help you’re able to provide as they sort through the mass of clothing, toys and equipment for what’s gender- and age-appropriate, and for what’s needed or not. And the profits we can expect exceed those possible through other forms of resale enterprise: e-commerce, seasonal and even year-round consignment.

These rewards are not without a price. A children’s resale store is a full-time occupation, and often more than full time–most will tell you–as you’re getting established. A children’s resale store demands a higher level of monetary investment than the other forms of commercial resale, specifically, on-line sales, seasonal consignment events, and consignment stores.

Kate Holmes in the opening to her popular Too Good to be Threw: The Complete Operations Manual for Resale and Consignment Shops describes how, in 1975 with $900 in hand, she was able to start a 750 sq ft consignment shop selling clothing and decorative items and grow it into a successful 3300 sq ft shop twenty years later. She exhorts, “You can do all this, too. All it takes is work; not even necessarily hard work, just smart work. And that’s what this book is all about…. [p. 2]”

I don’t pretend to know what it takes to grow a successful consignment business, but I do know what it takes to open a successful children’s resale business: a lot more than $900, a lot of hard work, and a lot more know-how and tools than you’ll glean from a book.

Do we have the time to give it?

You must be prepared to invest more time than you think you had opening and establishing this type of business. “Owner” is more than a word on a business card. Owners work in the business and on the business, and for long hours. Well-known children’s resale stores generally have well-known owners.

As an owner you will necessarily have a hand in many if not most activities to start. Over time you’ll outsource them or delegate them to employees. The pace at which this happens depends on how fast you grow sales, i.e. you reach the point where additional outside resources or employees are needed and can be afforded. It also depends on what you feel you have to do, what you find you can do, and what you learn you want to do to make the store an enjoyable and profitable undertaking. You may continue to devote your full energies to your store, or not. Dispel the notion that you will one-day vacate your role in managing the store entirely and become an absentee owner. When that day comes, sell.

Do we have enough money to carry the business until established?

Don’t under-cut your chances of success by under-estimating the start-up monies you’ll need to get the business on a sound footing. The start-up cost estimates provided on the NextGen site are founded on the experience of hundreds of stores.

One factor, perhaps more than any others, affects the outlay required: store size. Larger stores will require more inventory, more fixtures, and higher lease and utility costs, and to a lesser extent, supplies, advertising, etc. They also require more time, yours and/or your employees’, to manage.

Next Post: Part 2: How to Open a Children’s Resale Shop – Purchasing a Resale Business

In The Next Post

In Part 2 in the series “How to Open a Children’s Resale Shop”, we will discuss the question: Should We Purchase a Resale Store or Start Our Own Resale Store?

Topics will include:

Related FAQs

Related questions from the NextGen FAQs:
QUIZ: Is the children’s resale business for me?
Why open a children’s resale store?
Should I operate independently, as a franchisee or licensee?
How much does it cost to open a children’s resale store?

* I use the word “we” and “us” rather than “I” and “me” in phrasing these posts. I do this first—as explained above– because I am speaking for fellow owners and colleagues as well as myself; and second, because, more often than not, marital partners, if not business partners, are involved in our stores, be it on an active or passive basis. Our stores are rarely solo enterprises, and if they are, it’s a strike against us. Support, whether it be from family, friends and/or business associates is important.

Similar Questions this post relates to: How to open a resale store for children? How to open a resale store for kids? How to open a resale shop? How to open a consignment store for children?
How to open a consignment store for kids? How to start a resale store for children? How to start a resale store for kids? How to start a consignment store for children? How to start a consignment store for kids?

3 Responses to “Part 1: How to Open a Children’s Resale Shop – Is Resale For Me?”

  1. Hi My name is Joann and I own Back on the Rack 71 Route 46 Elmwood Park N.J.. I started my business 4 months ago, I do not know if I am at a wrong location, or families do not like second hand clothes. I do not get enough customers to keep my business going. I have tried everything to attract. My store is 1000 sq ft and very inviting and clean. My clothes are very nice. My selling customers have no problem selling and taking the money and not spending in the store. I just implemented a policy 20% store cr and 80% cash. Or if they choose store cr. the customer will get 20% more, most take the cash.I tried coupons, refer a friend, craigslist, face book and val pak. I would appreciate if you can give me some advise or ideas, I am getting worried this business is not going much longer. Thank You Joann Costa

  2. Hour Joann first of all congratulations on the opening of
    your consignment shop. I totally understand how you feel.
    I’ve done 5 children’s shops. My first one was a great
    Success but I decided that I wanted a much larger space
    Which was a very bad move and I’ve regretted that every
    since. I never had a problem with selling or returning customers.
    I will tell you these factors that will work. If possible always
    arrive an hour before your shop opens post daily specials
    On Facebook like new arrivals, tell your customers if they shop
    during lunch hours they can get a percentage off.You ma
    also do different drawings on your Facebook page or like
    page be sure to start a instagram page for posting toys
    and the specials you have on them.Social media is a pop-
    liar way to advertise along with Grouping.Hang in there and
    don’t give up. God Bless

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