May 10, 2010 // Franchising.com // Ann Arbor, MI – The Children's Orchard "store of the future" and refined franchise model has arrived, racking up increased sales and high marks from its core customer base of spending-conscious, Internet-savvy moms and their kids.
As it celebrates its 30th anniversary, the children's upscale-resale concept isn't standing still. Larger stores, a reconfigured layout, and an emphasis on convenience and shopability are just part of Children's Orchard's commitment to meeting the needs of moms and their kids. On the heels of introducing no-appointment-needed Walk-In Buying (with the industry's only 20 minute guarantee) and seasonal Tent Sales, in March 2010 Children's Orchard rolled out its online store at www.childorchstore.com. The addition of these new elements to its business model, first tested at the company's flagship location in Ann Arbor, Michigan, have helped to increase store inventories, boosted customer traffic and satisfaction, and resulted in an overall increase in store sales.
"At 30 years of age, we are still the trailblazers of the upscale resale franchise concept," said Children's Orchard CEO Taylor Bond. "We were the first franchise to offer quality, higher-end, gently-used clothing and other items for children, and we continue to lead the way. We've rolled out online programs that meet the needs of today's techno moms, we've enhanced the process by which we buy clothes from customers, and we've improved efficiency of back-end operations. Customers and franchise owners alike are giving us rave reviews."
As part of the evolution to a more sophisticated business model, Children's Orchard has elevated the capital criteria for new franchise owners. "We've raised the required net worth to reflect a new mindset: it's not just about operating a store, but about building a business," Bond added.
To meet the needs of today's busy mom, Children's Orchard's new online store gives moms access to a variety of brand-new products, ranging from eco-friendly handbags to kids toys to software that helps parents monitor their children's Internet usage. Unlike any other children's resale store, each Children's Orchard store's website offers its customers the chance to preview items that have just arrived at their nearest location. They're called "Just In! Listings" and customers love them. The franchise has also secured marketing partnerships with such well-known ebrands as Net Nanny® and JumpStart®. In addition, Children's Orchard has launched a Social Media campaign on Facebook, engaging its customers through a series of contests and giveaways, and also launched a recipe exchange website designed for today's busy moms.
"Over the last 30 years, we've grown a loyal, nationwide following of Children's Orchard brand advocates. Most of our franchise owners came from this pool of devoted customers," Bond said. "And as Children's Orchard® brings resale shopping into the next century, we're attracting a greater number of business owners who see us not just for the quality products and services we provide, but for the sophisticated business model we offer."
Founded in 1980, Children's Orchard is the nation's first franchise of gently used and new name-brand children's items. With over 50 franchise locations, each Children's Orchard store buys and sells quality used and new brand name clothing, toys and accessories in an upscale retail environment. Children's Orchard stores are designed to emphasize quality, value, comfort and commitment to the local community.