Delta Township moms open Once Upon A Child


Neither Patty Roberts nor Lisa Starks has ever owned a business, but everything is ready.

For eight weeks they’ve been buying baby and children’s clothing, shoes, bassinets and bicycles. They tagged almost 60,000 items.

The shelves are organized and labeled. The bins are filled to the brim. Clothing is color coded and hanging neatly.

The Delta Township moms opened a Once Upon A Child franchise in the Delta Center today.

Once Upon A Child buys and sells gently used and new children’s clothing and equipment, but it’s not a consignment shop.

“What makes us unique is that we pay cash on the spot for your items, instead of consigning items,” said Roberts. “The only thing we’re similar about is that we are buying and selling children’s clothes.”

At a consignment shop, there is sometimes a minimum amount you can bring in, and they may only buy on certain days of the week and for certain seasons.

“In our store, you can bring in as much as you want, at any time,” Roberts said. “And we buy all seasons, all day, every day.”

Roberts, 34, has been shopping at Once Upon A Child resale stores for eight years, since her oldest child was born.

She would go visit family in Kenton, Ohio, at Christmas and the Fourth of July and she would shop. She would plan ahead, based on what her kids needed.

Roberts didn’t discover any Once Upon A Child stores in Michigan for two years.

“I looked at a map, and there was one in Saginaw, two in Grand Rapids, one in Battle Creek, one in Portage, about five in Detroit and one in Ann Arbor,” Roberts said. “So you have this big circle with nothing. I just kind of kept it in the back of my head for a while.”

Roberts and Starks live right across the street from one another. Roberts would babysit for Starks’ children before and after school. Starks, who has a business degree, would always come to her with business ideas, she said. She wanted to start her own business but couldn’t come up with the right one.

Roberts told Starks to do something that would personally benefit her, and since she had two children, she should open a Once Upon A Child.

Starks had never heard of the franchise. Roberts says the two moms are both pretty frugal and don’t pay full price for anything. Whatever they buy, they have a coupon or it’s on sale.

The two women planned to visit four of the stores in Michigan on a Friday. They only made it to two. After spending four hours in the Battle Creek store and another four in the Portage store, Starks was sold. Roberts decided to do it with her.

In May of 2014, the two embarked on the franchise process, contacting Winmark Corp., waiting to be invited to “Discover Day” in Minneapolis.

“On our way home, we decided this is what we were going to do,” Roberts said. “Lansing needs this. Not just for our personal benefit but for the rest of Lansing.”

They were invited to be franchise owners in July of last year.

The buying process is very organized. “When a customer comes in, we sort their buy, we purchase items based on style – if it’s a current style,” Roberts said. “If it’s something a child would still wear today, if it can be found in stores today.”

Then they check out the condition – to make sure there are not any wrinkles, holes, odors – and consider demand. A computer determines the price.

Once the store is open to sell, they will offer same day trade, which saves on sales tax so they don’t have to pay sales tax. They will also offer in-store credit.

Once Upon A Child opened May 18 “to buy.”

“We had to build a certain inventory level up before customers could buy from us,” Roberts said. “We just reached that inventory level on Saturday (July 11).”

Once Upon A Child has more than 300 stores in the U.S. and Canada. This will be the 13th store in Michigan. All stores are individually owned and operated.

Roberts and Starks wanted to keep their business close to their homes. They’ve used all local businesses to provide the services they have require.

”We really want to provide moms a way to buy nice clothes and toys for their kids and not have to pay full price, ultimately,” Roberts said. “We want to be community pro-active and do things for our community.”

Once Upon A Child

A ribbon cutting and grand opening event kicked off at 8:45 a.m. today.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.; noon to 6 p.m Sunday.

5827 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing.

(517) 993-5234


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