Boxes and piles of clothes weren’t the only thing filling up the back room at the newly located Once Upon a Child (OUAC) in Bismarck. A group of YP’ers joined owner Tricia Arenz on Wednesday, November 12, where they learned about her entrepreneurial venture with the new & gently used children’s “stuff” store. OUAC buys new and used children’s clothing and resells the items for a profit.
Arenz, originally from Mandan, is the owner/manager and does all of her own marketing (including writing & recording her radio ads), as well as work the register. Arenz told the group “…your business is like having another child.” She shared that you have to put in the time and be available wherever you might be needed.
Like with many franchise stores, Arenz applied to own and operate the Bismarck store. They are part of the OUAC franchise, but have freedom to make their own decisions when it comes to things like marketing and pricing. The Bismarck franchise is one of over 300 locations throughout the US and Canada, with 3 stores in North Dakota (including Fargo & Grand Forks).
When Arenz and her mother opened the store in March of 2005, it was a rough and slow beginning, getting the idea of OUAC to catch on. Things started to slowly progress and in June of 2012, there was an incredible change for the good when clothes started piling up and they found out that the more inventory they had on the floor, the higher the sales and the more new customers came in as well.
The current location, next to Dunn Bros. coffee as of January 2014, boasts 1,500 more square feet than their previous location. Arenz said she is happy to have the freedom of owning the building space they occupy, instead of having to lease. It’s been a record year for the local franchise and she shared with the group what a fellow business owner shared with her, “if you’re near Wal-Mart, you’re going to be fine.” North Bismarck has seen an increased traffic count and exponential growth recently, but growth can also be hard on a small business. Arenz shared that finding enough employees, competing with growing wages, and other growth factors can be difficult.
Some other unique challenges Arenz faces is relying on customers to bring in the store’s inventory and that often the selling customer has a different idea of what their items are worth. OUAC does use a software program that helps with their pricing when items are brought in, so they do have standards to go by.
Unique rewards include seeing the customer’s satisfaction in getting paid for their belongings (in which they paid a good amount for when they originally bought the merchandise) and that anyone can come in and buy “name brands” that they may not normally be able to afford new.
During this winter season, they have many calls and walk-ins daily asking about things like snow pants and winter coats. Arenz said that many people were tipped off by the nice weather in October, that they weren’t really buying those items early and now obviously they’re in high demand.
Once Upon a Child does different sales throughout the year as the seasons change. There are two clearance seasons, a grab bag sale, and a $1 item sale. After these sales, the store donates boxes of clothes/items to an organization (House of Manna) in Center, ND that gives the clothes to those in need for free or a freewill donation. They donated 20 boxes alone from this spring/summer.
Learn more about Once Upon A Child at onceuponachildbismarck.com.Entrepreneurs Among Us (E-Among Us) is an event created by the Entrepreneur Team to showcase local entrepreneurs and businesses in Bismarck-Mandan. Stay tuned for more of these events by visiting the events tab on our website.
Viva Lauinger is the Liaison from the Marketing Team to the Entrepreneur Team. She is the Marketing Specialist for Kupper Chevrolet-Subaru and loves being involved in the community and being a promoter of all great things in life.