Every year, six million children’s items are bought and sold throughout Kate Paynter’s nine co-owned Once Upon A Child® stores; she is no stranger to moving mass volumes of product to accommodate growing demand.
Nevertheless, Kate remains in awe of her local diaper bank’s persistent efforts and ability to meet the community’s substantial demand for diapers. Every month, Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank distributes 75,000 diapers throughout the greater Cincinnati area. Last year, they donated nearly half a million diapers to thousands of children within the community.
After one of the organization’s members reached out to Kate via Facebook, she has leveraged her Once Upon A Child businesses to become an integral partner and donor to the admirable charity. It’s just one of the several causes Kate has promoted during her time as a business owner with the Winmark children’s resale franchise brand.
“Until this woman from Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank reached out to me, I had no idea there was such a significant need for diapers in our community and all communities,” Kate said. “Even if a new mother receives government assistance, that doesn’t cover essentials like diapers. Cincinnati has one of the highest child poverty rates in the country, and diapers can get incredibly expensive.”
On average, diapers can cost $70 to $80 per month. At such a high cost, and at the rate most mothers run through diapers (on average, six to 10 per day), it’s no surprise that one in three U.S. moms report suffering from diaper need.
“I realized I wanted to help out this organization any way that I could, and that was the start of our years-long partnership with the charity,” Kate said.
A Cause Near and Dear to Her Heart
Every February, Kate’s stores hold a diaper drive, offering customers a $5 coupon if they donate at least five diapers. Each of her stores also competes in a contest to see who can collect the most diapers.
“Since a lot of my employees are women and single moms, they really understand the struggle other new moms may be facing,” Kate said. “That, in and of itself, makes them work so hard for a cause they personally understand and feel connected to. The contest is just an additional, fun way to get employees motivated and involved in collecting as many donations as possible.”
A mother and former second-grade teacher herself, Kate also understands firsthand the broader implications that come from not having enough diapers. Without diapers, babies cannot participate in early childhood education programs. And, without child care, parents are unable to go to work.
Last year, Kate’s stores collected 5,000 diapers during the diaper drive and 35,000 total over the past year.
“Even though our diaper drive is our big event, we collect diapers every day,” Kate said. “The diaper bank comes and picks up our donation bin every two weeks. It’s a perfect tie-in with our business because a large portion of our clientele has babies, who outgrow their diapers every few months.”
“Many people have extra diapers but just don’t know what to do with them,” Kate added. “So, dropping them off at a Once Upon A Child store in their area is a really convenient way for customers to get rid of their extra diapers while giving back to the community.”
Kate and her team of employees also continuously encourage customers to donate, raising awareness for the cause.
“Aside from not knowing what to do with their extra diapers, a lot of people also just don’t realize the substantial community need for diapers,” Kate said. “A major portion of our diaper drive and regular donation promotions is also about raising awareness for the cause and letting people know how great the demand is.”
Getting Creative with Giving Back
In addition to her work with the diaper bank, Kate uses her stores to participate in various other charities, including hosting fundraisers for March of Dimes at her Once Upon A Child stores and raising money for leukemia research at her seven Plato’s Closet® locations.
“March of Dimes’ mission is to promote healthy moms and strong babies, so it’s another charity that ties in really well with our business, client base, employees and mission,” Kate said. “Leukemia was the No. 1 disease killer of children 18 years old and younger, so I thought that tied in best with our Plato’s Closet business. They’re all wonderful causes that do really amazing things to give back.”
Kate’s Once Upon A Child locations also regularly collect and donate extra baby clothes and products to Matthew 25: Ministries, an organization providing worldwide disaster relief. Any Once Upon A Child merchandise that doesn’t sell after a clearance event gets donated to the organization, along with any additional items customers want to donate.
“Customers come in to sell us inventory every day, but sometimes we are unable to purchase these items because of the items’ condition,” Kate said. “Instead of having the customer drag back their items back home and bring them to a Goodwill later, we always offer to donate their stuff for them right there in-store. It’s a great way to get customers involved and help them feel good about giving back while offering them a convenient solution for any of their stuff we can’t buy.”
The Importance of Incorporating Philanthropy into Your Business
When it comes to giving back, Kate suggested other business owners find a cause they can connect to, believe in and that aligns well with their business. If prospective business owners are looking into a franchise opportunity, she noted the importance of ensuring the franchisor supports franchisees’ community outreach and philanthropic initiatives.
“Winmark has been really supportive in helping me use my resale businesses to get involved with local charities, which is definitely something to look for in a franchisor-franchisee relationship,” Kate said. “Giving back to the community is so important as a business owner. It shows your employees and customers you care about other people, as well as the community where you all live and work.”
If you’d like to learn more about franchise opportunities with Winmark brands, start by filling out the Winmark franchise form.