Children’s Orchard is a leading children’s clothing and toy resale store. Because children so often outgrow their clothes before they are hardly worn, buying apparel from Children’s Orchard gives parents the opportunity to bring in their kids’ outgrown clothes, and buy some “gently-used” outfits for them at a fraction of the cost. The same is true with toys.
We recently spoke with Claudia Aguirre and Donahi Bunt, owners of a Children’s Orchard franchise in McAllen, Texas, and learned why they chose the franchise, what challenges they faced when they first started out and, lastly, what advice they have for potential franchisees.
How long have you owned a franchise?
What were you doing before becoming a franchise owner?
We both had worked part time in our families’ businesses for years. (Claudia in the Maquila field and Donahi in the telecommunications field.) It came a time that we wanted to have the experience to create and operate our own business.
Why did you choose your franchise?
As moms, we know how expensive it is to dress the kids in style and how fast they outgrow their clothes. Children’s Orchard offers parents a way to make money by selling their children’s outgrown, gently used items. Plus, they can stick around and shop for fashionable clothing, toys and equipment for a fraction of the retail price. It’s a great concept!
What were some of the challenges you faced when starting your franchise?
Finding a way to finance the business and creating an appropriate work and life balance was difficult, especially in the early years when we were just getting the business going.
Where did you research or get advice about starting a franchise?
We called some store owners and talked to a lawyer, but we already knew we wanted to be part of the Children’s Orchard team. During our first year of operation, we visited some of the top performing Children’s Orchard franchises to learn about their daily processes.
How much did you spend before your doors were officially opened?
All of our money! Truthfully, it was an amount very close to what the corporate office told us, but we exceeded that during the first couple of years.
What does a typical day look like for you?
In the early years we were both full-time at the store. Little by little, we built a great team capable of handling much of the day-to-day operations. One of us takes care of the administration and the other takes care of advertising and marketing.
What is your secret to success?
Remember, your customers are the reason you are in business. When something goes wrong, spend your time and energy making it right. Don’t waste time searching for someone to blame. Stay focused on your goals, and track your results. Build a great team to help you reach your goals.
What would you do differently if you had to do it all over?
We would definitely invest more time into learning about our market before opening our doors.
Where do you see your business in five years?
We just moved to a bigger location for the third time, so right now, we just want to focus on getting everything under control and use this change to impact our sales and community involvement in a positive way.
What is one trend that really excites you?
Businesses becoming more eco-friendly is really exciting. It’s rewarding to be part of that trend by allowing parents to recycle their children’s clothes and toys.
What are your favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Google Drive: All our images, documents, ideas and campaigns are available on any device!
Constant Contact: We love being able to email market!
Do you (or did you ever) have a mentor?
We like to look for learning opportunities everywhere. Other store owners have helped with that learning process.
What advice do you have for others looking to own a franchise?
Understand that you are buying a franchise in order to mitigate risk and follow a proven success model. If you’re not willing to follow a franchise system, you’ll want to look for another opportunity.
Learn everything you can about the franchise before you buy. Get to know the management team, the owners and the history of the franchise. Talk to as many franchisees as possible, and ask questions. If possible, visit a few franchise units to see the day-to-day operation and talk to customers regarding their opinion of the business.
Would you recommend others be franchisees? Why?
Yes. Buying into a franchise gives you a proven system and support from people with experience in the industry. At the same time, you are the business owner, so you must stay focused in order to succeed.
Where can people get more information on Children’s Orchard franchise opportunities?
Visit the website here.
Where can people find Children’s Orchard on social media?