In 2012, Dwight Johnson left his job at a North Carolina-based investment group to open a Once Upon A Child® franchise – although he had no experience in the retail industry.
“After working for an investment group, whose value went from more than $10 million to $0 in just one day, I knew I needed to set my sights on a business opportunity that was much steadier and stable,” Dwight reflected.
And while business ownership can be a risky investment in itself, Dwight says his decision to open the children’s resale franchise was one of the best he’s made.
Baby Steps toward Business Ownership
Prior to working at the investment firm, which specialized in tech startups, Dwight was the vice president of a national insurance company.
Having no experience in the retail industry – or business ownership, for that matter – might be enough to deter most people from pursuing a new venture.
But, Dwight was confident in his decision, especially since he was already familiar with other Winmark® franchise brands.
“I had a friend who owned a Plato’s Closet® that was extremely successful, so I looked at that opportunity closely,” Dwight said. “In terms of franchisors, Winmark really stood above the rest, particularly when it came to their support and unit-level success.”
At the time of his job search, Dwight was in his late 50s and didn’t want to work in another corporate role. He also didn’t want to reinvent the wheel with business ownership, so franchising seemed like a natural fit.
Why Winmark Won Him Over
At his friend’s urging, Dwight visited his friend’s Plato’s Closet store for a day. There, he was able to observe the store’s daily operations, while getting a feel for the overall business model.
“The business model was really straightforward, which I liked,” Dwight said. “You didn’t have to deal with different vendors and suppliers. Your customers are your suppliers, and they come right to you with your inventory – all your business is done right on site.”
Soon after, Dwight and his family relocated to Columbus, Georgia, where he opened up his Once Upon A Child franchise within a few months. He originally planned to open a Plato’s Closet, but there were already several existing locations in his territory.
“It made more sense to open up a different store under the Winmark umbrella,” Dwight said. “That’s when I decided Once Upon A Child was the right choice. People will always need children’s clothes, toys and supplies, so there would be demand regardless of the economy.”
Recession-Proof Resale is Set for Success
For Dwight, the franchise’s recession-proof nature was a strong differentiator. Unlike with other verticals, he could rest assured his business would be capable of withstanding almost any economic climate.
“Resale is interesting because not only is it recession-proof, resale businesses actually often perform even better in a less favorable economy,” Dwight said. “People still need cribs, car seats and other baby and toddler goods, but they can’t spend as much money on them – which is when they look to resale stores and other ways to save money. Even in a good economy, everyone still likes to save, so the business just seemed set up for success regardless.”
Before his grand opening, Dwight worked with the Winmark corporate team to advertise Once Upon A Child’s competitive pricing to his local market. Those efforts paid off – and Dwight’s store set a brand-wide record for opening day sales.
“There were hundreds of people lined up outside the store, which was really amazing to see,” Dwight said. “We set the bar high with the record-breaking opening, but since then, we’ve just built on that momentum. Although I’m retirement age, I don’t plan to sell the store. I’m just continuing to enjoy our unit-level success, while I also have the freedom to travel and leave the store to run itself from time to time.”
Are you interested in owning a recession-proof resale business with a leading franchisor? Contact us today to learn more about Once Upon A Child, Plato’s Closet and other franchise opportunities with Winmark brands.