Board Member and Multi-Unit Owner Chelsea Sloan Carroll Appears on first Kid to Kid Franchise Podcast
Daughter of Kid to Kid founders sees ample room for nationwide expansion for the long-standing brand parents have relied on for nearly three decades
Kid to Kid childrens thrift franchise has been the go-to resource for parents for nearly three decades. Chelsea Sloan Carroll grew up with the brand as her parents Shauna and Brent Sloan founded the company in 1992. They experienced firsthand how expensive it was to clothe Chelsea and her siblings and they wanted to give other families a resale shopping experience that was upscale, organized and featured the latest trends and toys at significantly reduced prices.
Today, Kid to Kid is stronger than ever and we just launched our new franchise podcast, kicking things off with Chelsea as a special guest on our first ever episode. A board member and multi-unit owner, Chelsea speaks to how the brand overcame the global pandemic, why families rely on Kid to Kid more than ever and why now is a great time to invest in the brand.
Chelsea, can you give a basic overview of the Kid to Kid franchise brand?
Kid to Kid is the best childrens thrift franchise you could imagine. As a mom of three, it’s a magical place for me where I can shop and find really cute clothing, toys and baby gear priced between 50% to 75% off regular retail prices. The nice thing about Kid to Kid is it’s a community fixture where parents can come, sell clothes for cash or store credit, and then turn around and shop as well. All of the merchandise is locally sourced, gently used and sustainable.
What did Kid to Kid do to recover from the pandemic and how are you pivoting to capitalize on the moment?
I think the national closure of most nonessential businesses was a shock to everyone. I went through it as a franchisee and it was good to be part of a franchise network at that time. We had owners from our 100 plus stores all over the country communicating with one another and headquarters was dispensing new information and marketing materials to help us communicate with customers. COVID took us all by surprise, but I am happy to say that we were able to reopen safely with heightened safety precautions for our teams and customers. It’s a different era. We also pivoted from what we expect from a customer experience. Customers are coming in to shop less frequently but they are spending more money when they do. Ultimately, parents are taking advantage of their shopping trips by spending more in one trip.
In good times and bad, it costs a lot of money to clothe your growing children. But at a time of economic upheaval and uncertainty, Kid to Kid really resonates far more with young parents who are looking for ways to cut back on spending. Can you explain why Kid to Kid makes sense in a time of economic uncertainty?
My son has gone through three shoe sizes in six months. He’s almost 3 and literally, his little foot has grown and grown and grown. So, if I go buy him one pair of sneakers, one pair of sandals and one pair of dress shoes I’m going to spend probably $150. A parent can come to Kid to Kid and find that identical pair of Nikes and spend much less.
People are delaying the age when they have kids, and the number of kids parents are having is dwindling. I think that speaks to their worry about costs. They are concerned they won’t have money to pay for swim lessons, soccer camps and college. Twenty years ago they were saying that it cost $200,000 to raise a child to age 18 and that number continues to rise.
It cannot be overemphasized how much a Kid to Kid childrens thrift franchisehelps the people that come in and shop. I have worked at Kid to Kid since I was 15. I’ve seen that as a regular sales associate. I managed my first store at 17 and I owned my first store at 21 and to see how Kid to Kid impacts the community is really gratifying. I also work in the franchise office helping to provide support to the stores. Seeing families, couples or single moms own a Kid to Kid store and have it be part of the community while gaining financial freedom and flexibility in their lives is really gratifying.
Another really important aspect of what Kid to Kid does is giving money back into the hands of young families by buying the clothes that the children have outgrown. Can you explain that a little more?
When a customer shops at a big box retailer, 41 cents on their dollar stays local and 59 cents will leave the local community, whereas at a store like Kid to Kid where all of our product is sourced locally almost 90 cents of the consumer’s dollar stays in the local community.
The nice thing is as a mom I can pack up my stuff and take it to Kid to Kid and their trained buyers check for recalls, safety and missing pieces. The trained buyers will look at that product and figure out what the store can take and resell. Then I have an option as a parent to donate the items that they don’t take. Kid to Kid stores donate to extraordinary charities and organizations, such as foster homes, battered women’s shelters and local schools. I can take the items back with me that Kid to Kid doesn’t sell and try to sell them someplace else but if I am trying to go for a one-stop-shop experience, I can go to Kid to Kid and I know that anything I don’t sell is going to somebody in need and I get a tax receipt for it.
Another thing that Kid to Kid has really done is elevate the customer experience. Can you describe what makes Kid to Kid different from other resale clothing businesses?
I love our beautiful merchandise. I love that when somebody walks into a Kid to Kid childrens thrift franchise they feel like they have walked into a fun toy store. In addition to carrying lots of gently used items, we also bring in new products such as Melissa & Doug toys and lots of fun $5 and under toys. Most of our stores have the largest hair bow selection in their local communities. So if you find a special outfit at Kid to Kid you can find a bow that will go along with it. We carry safety equipment as well. So, when a mom, dad or a grandparent walks in it’s important that they feel a sense of security and trust because our main source of customer comes from the people who sell to us. They’ll come to sell to us and while we are sorting through their items they’ll shop. We want anybody who sells to us to feel safe while shopping at Kid to Kid. We don’t want it to be a thrift store experience, but more like shopping at the mall.
A lot of people might be wary of investing in a retail business right now but the resale business is exploding. Can you explain the benefits of owning a resale clothing business in 2021?
The resale industry has gone from $6 billion to almost $50 billion and it is continuing to see double-digit increases in times when other retailers are receding. It’s predicted that by the year 2025 that more people will be buying used clothes than fast fashion, which includes brands like H&M or Forever 21 for adults, and places like Children’s Place or Old Navy for kids’ fashion. Also from an environmental responsibility aspect and a cost perspective, we are hitting some uncertain economic times and it’s nice to see that our stores have really picked up. January 2021 was a great month. As more people become concerned about their financial future they automatically think about how they can save money and what things they “have” to pay full price for versus things they don’t. That draws people to our childrens thrift franchise.
Why do you think it’s important to own a business that is doing some good in the world and in the community?
I love Kid to Kid because it does good for the community, it does good for the environment, it does good for the owner and it does good for the team. There aren’t that many places where you can work and help the grandmother who has taken back three grandchildren because of family upheaval clothe her grandkids and be their primary caregiver. There are so many days where you can come into Kid to Kid, work and just come away feeling wonderful. It’s extremely rewarding because you are truly helping families.
Finally Chelsea, why do you think now is a good time to invest in a Kid to Kid franchise?
For someone who is passionate about kids and kids stuff and for a person that is ready to come and work for themselves, I think that a Kid to Kid franchise is a really solid investment. Again I am probably going to open two stores this year so I obviously put my money where my mouth is. Franchising is a deeply personal decision and when deciding what franchise to buy I think someone should sit down, go through the Franchise 500 list and go “OK, what do I really want to be doing with my day?”
If you really love to look at kids’ stuff, if you like to thrift, if you enjoy talking to people, if helping moms is something you could get passionate about, then Kid to Kid is a really good fit. It’s a really good business model. There are a lot of trends that come and go in the franchise world but I think the fact that Kid to Kid has been around for nearly 30 years and continues to be a household staple really shows the brand’s staying power and the commitment the franchisor has to the franchisees. One great thing about Kid to Kid is the franchisor cares. The franchisor office and the marketing team are constantly pumping out new marketing ideas. In this post-COVID era, we are completely revamping promotions and trying to come up with new ways to have good sales events while keeping people socially distanced. We just rolled out a brand new proprietary point of sales system that allows us to track customer behavior. The franchise is very engaged with ensuring Kid to Kid continues to be a good investment for both existing and new franchisees.
There are about 100 stores in the U.S. right now and I would say the full market penetration is about 300 stores. So, if there is a prime territory that you live near and would allow you to have a store close to your home you should reach out to our team. If you are poised to make a career change and you have the financial backing, it’s a great time to look at opening a childrens thrift franchise.