Garage sales used to be the place where old children’s clothes, toys and other items found new life.
Chenay Sloan says the goal of her resale shop, Trendy Tots, is to simplify the process for buyer and seller.
“We see ourselves as a convenience to families,” Sloan said.
Sloan pays sellers 40 to 60 percent of what the item eventually sells for, depending on whether it’s a straight resale or consignment. Buyers can expect the goods, lightly or in some cases never used, to cost about a third of what they do new.
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Sloan bought the former Once Upon a Child shop on North Rock Road and changed its name three years ago, dropping the franchise connection in the process.
“I always wanted to have my own business,” said Sloan, who's also worked as a TV news producer and professional fundraiser. “I thought this sounded profitable and fun.”
Today, she adds, “I wear the bumps and bruises of any small business owner.”
Mainly those involve finding and keeping good help and maintaining cash flow – “king in any business,” she said.
Not that she’s complaining. On a recent weekday afternoon, a steady stream of buyers and sellers popped into the shop, many of them moms on their lunch hour. Sloan said the back-to-school season is busy.
“I tell people we’re not going to have everything, but try us before you go to the mall,” she said.
As for sellers, Sloan’s staff had to gently tell one woman that they couldn’t accept her items for resale.
“We do ask that they be stain-free, no rips and tears, as well as freshly laundered,” she said.
The 2,400-square-foot store holds something like 25,000 items, from baby rockers, bikes and children’s books to sequined jeans that would probably satisfy the pickiest preteen. In one corner is a counter where adults can record personalized birthday greetings on CDs or cartridges that are then inserted into teddy bears.
“It’s constantly evolving,” Sloan said of her store’s merchandise.
About the only child-related items she won't sell, Sloan said, are cribs, because of concerns over liability and also because there’s already a thriving market for them online.
Sloan is looking ahead to the fall and Halloween, when used costumes are another big seller. Much of her future inventory is packed away neatly in plastic storage boxes above the racks of clothes displayed in the store.
“Right now we’re looking for fall and winter clothes,” she said. “When it’s cold outside, we’re buying for hot, and when it’s hot we’re buying for cold.”
And despite those “bumps and bruises,” owning the shop carries one side benefit for her own three children, ages 4 to 9.
“They can come in here and it’s like a playground,” she said.