Each Once Upon A Child location is individually owned and operated, including Once Upon A Cild Traverse City. Born and raised in Traverse City, we understand our local economy, AND we understand money doesn’t grow on trees. We are opened our doors in June 2016 and and are extremley excited about our new adventure!
Our customers want quality children’s clothing and we’re excited that we can offer discounts 50-80% off of original retail prices. We strive to offer a fun and convenient way to sell your gently used items. Whether you’re buying or selling, we would love to help you find what you’re looking for. We offer payment on-the-spot for items we select that meet current style, safety and condition standards. We maintain high merchandise standards by thoroughly inspecting all toys and equipment for any safety recalls.
Once Upon a Child fills need in TC
TRAVERSE CITY — Jen O’Brien had wanted to open a business for some time, but it was asking residents what Traverse City needed that fueled her breakthrough on what that business should be.
“I started asking friends and family what they thought Traverse City was missing and they all wished there was a place to buy gently used kids’ stuff,” she said. “I don’t have kids but I thought it was an awesome opportunity.”
It sparked O’Brien’s interest in the Once Upon a Child chain, which pays cash for gently used children’s clothes and toys and sells them at a discounted rate. The concept clicked for O’Brien, who quickly got the ball rolling.
“It took about a year to go from starting the training process to finding the perfect spot and doing the buildout,” she said.
O’Brien began accepting gently used inventory from customers in April that ranged from clothes and shoes to toys and children’s equipment. Fast forward to June 9, when Once Upon A Child opened to shoppers at 2751 U.S. 31 South.
“It’s been super exciting and the community has accepted us,” O’Brien said. “About half have already been to one (a Once Upon a Child location) before and they’re just ecstatic that they don’t have to drive 2½ hours to get to one.”
Once Upon a Child lists 14 franchisees in Michigan on its website, concentrated largely in the state’s southeast region. The chain’s closest locations outside Traverse City are in Saginaw and near Grand Rapids.
But O’Brien’s 5,500-square-foot store is twice the size of a normal Once Upon a Child starting out, she said.
“We’re much larger than other retail shops,” she said. “We didn’t want to go through with two buildouts, so we decided to go big or go home.”
It’s a risk that O’Brien feels comfortable taking after working in the retail industry for 18 years. Whatever she didn’t know, she quickly picked up within the franchise.
“We’re able to learn from each other’s experience and obstacles,” O’Brien said. “That helped me set up the way I was going to run things.”
She now staffs 23 employees. Some are stationed behind the counter, checking in and sorting through bags of children’s supplies brought in by customers looking to sell. A computer determines what the franchise will take and how much they’ll pay for it.
“We have four different touch screen computers with their software,” O’Brien said. “They have all the name brands programmed right in.”
The franchise usually prices clothing 50 to 70 percent off retail valueCustomers receive 25 percent of the selling price, and the payout is bumped to 50 percent for toys and equipment.
“Equipment and large toys have been by far the best sellers,” O’Brien said. “Every week we post our five most wanted items and three are always toys or equipment.”
Popular equipment includes: High chairs and other baby gear, kids’ tents, toddler beds and bikes.
“We will never stop buying because there’s always a need for that kind of stuff,” O’Brien said. “As soon as it comes in, it goes right out.”