Kid to Kid Franchise Review: Catching Up With New York Franchisee Michelle Talley
Store of the Year owner says sales are up and plans to open a second location are on track despite an unprecedented year
Nearly four years after opening her Tonawanda, New York, store, and despite the pandemic, owner Michelle Talley is opening a second Kid to Kid franchise location. Sales are strong and she is optimistic about the future, setting her sights on a million-dollar sales year in 2021.
For Talley, Kid to Kid has proven to have a resilient business model. Kid to Kid franchise was founded in 1992 by a young couple who understood what all young couples know — it costs a small fortune to buy clothes for your children, a reality that is especially true during uncertain economic times. With close to 100 locations, Kid to Kid is the leading upscale kids resale franchise in the nation. According to Fortune, the $24 billion resale industry has outpaced retail by 21 times over the past 3 years and is expected to nearly triple to $64 billion within the next 10 years.
Talley is in the process of opening a second location in West Seneca, New York, which is scheduled to open in early 2021. We interviewed her earlier this year and recently caught up with her to see how she used creativity, and compassion, to keep business steady during the pandemic.
How have you fared after COVID?
We’re in New York, so we were hit pretty hard in the beginning but we’re doing alright. In fact, we’re opening a second store.
We shut down in mid-March, and we didn’t open our doors to the public until June 2. During that time my husband and I were in the store almost every day. We completely renovated and changed the store. Then we were allowed to be open for curbside, and we thought outside the box a bit because we needed to sell our inventory. We did online sales so customers could take virtual shopping trips. Now we’re open for in-store sales and we are really busy, which is great.
As far as safety measures, we have plastic guards everywhere and follow sanitary measures. We can only have so many people in the store at a time and we require masks.
How did having a strong social media presence help?
I wanted to reassure people that we would be back and better than ever and I posted a lot of videos. I posted frequent updates and then we started our social media selling. It kept Kid to Kid in front of everybody while all the other stores were closed.
We sell diapers and formula, too, and probably had about $6000 in formula in our stores and since it would expire anyway, we decided to give it away. We set up a table outside and offered one of each free per customer. A lot of people who were out of work and needed help came by. It even got picked up by the local news which was really cool.
Can you update us on your plans for opening a second Kid to Kid store?
We are opening another store about a half-hour from our current store in February 2021. We were never going to open another store. It’s a lot of work and I’m 60 years old and I thought one store is good, but my husband and I went away for a weekend in the Adirondacks and at the end of that two-day vacation we had planned it out. We know we can do it and we can be successful.
When you get to the point where the store is kind of running itself you think, “ok, now what?” Once we get through COVID, and we will get through COVID, we’re going to have another successful store and we’re going to follow the procedures and do it again. We were on track to be a million dollar sales store before COVID hit and we fully expect to get there next year.
What makes Kid to Kid such a good, scalable business opportunity?
Kid to Kid stores are really upscale looking. When you go inside the store they are really pretty and have really nice fixtures. It doesn’t look like a thrift store, it looks like a kids’ boutique. If you follow the system and I know from experience, you can be successful.
You can be successful, you really can, because it’s pretty tried and true. People need stuff for their kids and if you buy the right stuff and you pay people well and you follow the system you can create a successful store.
A lot of businesses shut their doors during the pandemic. Can you speak to the advantages of being part of a franchise system during this time?
Anybody could go on their own and start a kids’ resale store, but a lot of people would find that daunting. The franchise has everything laid out for you. I’m not super creative, I just want to follow the system and the systems are good. You have a franchise rep you can call any time. And then you have a manual. Kid to Kid has a proprietary manual and plan that I follow every day of every month that tells me what kind of sales I should be having and when.
In the beginning, especially, you are offered all kinds of support. You train in Salt Lake City and at a store for a few weeks. You have tons of support and your rep comes out and checks in with you all the time. As an owner you also have all kinds of data on the back end so you can run any report that you need.
They give you the tools you need. I can’t say enough about that. I have a lot of support, as do my manager and assistant manager.
For people considering leaving their job or owning their own business, why should they consider investing in Kid to Kid?
The whole concept behind resale is becoming more and more popular, especially with younger people. Before COVID hit, my husband and I said to each other, “this is such a recession proof business…even when times are bad this is one that is going to thrive,” not knowing a month later COVID would hit and we would have to shut our doors. But I still believe in it. I do. People shop online, but people still need to go into a store to look at used clothes and feel it. And they want to do something good for the community and for the environment. The concept behind Kid to Kid is great. Kids outgrow their stuff and it doesn’t go in a landfill, it goes to another family to love.
There’s a lot of stuff we don’t buy from our customers. They don’t want to take it home, they want to donate it. I work with a couple of local charities that pick up thousands of items from me each week that go to the less fortunate. So you are not only buying resale, you are donating your stuff. It really is a win/win for everybody.
The clothing industry probably uses more water than any other industry. You could go to a thrift store, but we are picky on what we buy. All types of moms, whether they are the environmental type mom or the harried, frazzled mom, come to our store because they know they are going to get some cute stuff, it’s not going to cost a lot and it’s good for the environment.
Anything else you would like to add?
A franchise is a lot of money. You’ve got to have about $300,000 to put into this. But if you pick a good location, follow the system, hire the best people and stay positive you can be successful. There are so many business owners right now who are negative. Well, we’re not and we’re in New York and New York got hit hard. A franchise can be very successful if you follow the plan and work hard.