Financial growth has been nothing new to Once Upon a Child, but even its owner was taken somewhat off guard at the sales increases the Brookfield children's clothing consignment shop experienced after it relocated across town two years ago.
"Since 2006, when I bought the franchise, we've always raised our sales from one year to the next," said Chris Ammentorp, a retail industry veteran, who purchased the store on the advice of her daughter, Holly, a onetime employee of the Twin Cities-based company's LaCrosse outlet. "I didn't anticipate, though, that we'd have a jump of 36 percent the year after we moved."
Ammentorp credits Once Upon a Child's West Bluemound location, as well as the nature of her business, for its success.
"Brookfield has always been a very welcoming community to us, and now we're in a prime area where there's a lot of foot traffic, which has created a huge draw of loyal customers," she said. "It also helps that this is practically a recession-proof venture. When the economy tanked a few years ago, I began attracting more customers, because they could not only save money, but make money on the clothing they brought in to sell.
"Children — especially, young children — grow out of clothes so fast. It just makes sense to sell these barely used clothes and replace them with similar ones."
Customers can expect to receive discounts of 50 to 70 percent off retail prices, Ammentorp said, on Once Upon a Child's inventory of gently used clothing and equipment, including highchairs, bouncers and swings.
The store, she said, is highly selective of the clothes it purchases, insisting that all items be free of stains and holes — a requirement that has allowed the small business owner to build a tight bond with her customers.
"We offer only quality merchandise at value prices, so customers know we care about them and their families' clothing and equipment needs," she said. "Similarly, they support the store and want us to be successful. It's a reciprocal, extended-family type relationship that always makes my day."
JUST THE FACTS
Business name: Once Upon a Child
Address: 16750 W. Bluemound Road
Phone: (262) 782-5437
Owner: Chris Ammentorp
Type of business: Children's resale
Pearls of wisdom: The No. 1 rule in retail: listen to your customers
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