Profitability may be central to success in business, but finding fulfillment as an owner is about much more than your bottom line. When Once Upon A Child® franchisees Maloree and Steven McNabb were vetting franchise concepts, they wanted to invest in a brand that would pay off in more ways than one.
“Don’t buy into a franchise just to make money – you also need to have a passion for what you’re doing,” Maloree said. “That’s what makes your employees happier, your community love you, and in turn, what makes you more motivated and fulfilled as a business owner.”
In a growing community of families and with countless friends starting families of their own, Maloree noticed a strong need for a concept like Once Upon A Child in Kenosha, Wis.
“There’s nothing like Once Upon A Child – a children’s resale concept with such a high level of both quantity and quality in inventory – within 50 miles of our community,” Maloree said. “I came across Once Upon A Child in the Entrepreneur Magazine Franchise 500 list of best franchises to own, and I immediately thought this is what our community needs, and this is what we should be doing.”
A Business that Benefits the Community and Environment
Neither Maloree nor her husband had any previous retail experience, but they both carried over a penchant for creating meaningful customer connections from their past roles. From fundraisers for cancer research to meet-and-greets with many current and lovable children's’ characters, the McNabbs work hard to foster a positive, memorable experience for families whenever they come into the store and to ensure the community around the store is taken care of.
“My background is in outside sales, and Steve was a vice president of marketing for many years, so we are always thinking about ways to engage with the customers and forge strong relationships with them,” Maloree said. “What we love about our business is that we’re part of such a huge brand in name and reach, but our franchise is very much part of our local community.”
Beyond personal connections with customers, Maloree also finds fulfillment in the store’s positive impact in a broader sense, particularly with respect to the environment.
“Last year, we bought over 200,000 pieces of clothing alone, and in doing that, we were able to keep tens of thousands of pounds of textiles out of landfills, recycle them and have them continue to serve a purpose in the community,” Maloree said. “A lot of the inventory brought to us is barely used or barely worn, and seeing people get more life out of each piece is one of the coolest parts of owning the business.”
In addition to clothing, Maloree says Once Upon A Child is unique in that it also saves a great deal of equipment and toys from landfills as well.
“Some thrift stores and other resale stores have been known to not accept children’s equipment,” Maloree said. “Of course, we always make sure we only take updated equipment in line with required and voluntary safety standards. But, our franchise answers a strong community need to offer affordable children’s goods, while also serving as a place to recycle gently used items.”
Why a People-First Focus is Good for Business
Maloree says her main goal when she opened her store was to serve her community, from both a customer and an employee standpoint.
“I knew that if I can help make a person’s experience better, then I’m doing something right,” Maloree said. “I’m constantly asking myself, ‘Would I want to sell and buy here, as a customer?’ and ‘Would I want to work here, as an employee?’”
Maloree’s mission to create a positive experience for everyone who enters her store continues to drive her strategic vision for the business.
“Some of the smallest changes can make the biggest difference in making the whole experience easier, faster and better for everyone,” Maloree said.
For example, Maloree and Steve routinely walk through the store to assess the layout and flow of customers and inventory. The first time they took a step back and figured out where they were experiencing bottlenecks in the buying process, they were able to adjust and optimize their operations accordingly.
“Almost immediately, we were able to reduce the buying time by 15 minutes just by asking ourselves where and why things were getting held up,” Maloree said. “Regularly thinking about small changes you can make in your processes is important to make the experience that much more convenient and enjoyable for employees and customers alike.”
The McNabbs plan to expand their footprint and open one or two more resale franchises within their community. But, for now, they are continuing to keep up with the fast pace of the success and growth they’ve seen just a year since opening.
To learn more about Once Upon A Child and other Winmark franchises, contact us today