Business idea in need of feedback

(42 Posts)
fibee29 Tue 08-Jan-13 09:30:13

Hi I have been recently developing a business idea and would love to have some feedback from some real parents.

It involves running a childrens shop from birth upwards of pre used but good condition items. It would also enable parents to bring their used items, ie clothing, prams, cots etc to the shop which I would then purchase and sell again in my shop. They would then get either store credit or cash to take away giving them the ability to purchase good quality clothing in the next size at a lower price than retail shops.

Would you think of taking your used baby/childs clothing to a shop like this to sell?

Would you purchase good quality used baby/childs clothing or equipment such as cots and prams?

What sort of prices would you be willing to pay for used clothing?

Any feedback at all would be greatly apreciated! smile thanks

BoysWillGrow Tue 08-Jan-13 09:35:27

Brilliant idea I would use a shop like this. Would you make much money though?
Surely you wouldn't accept anything people bring in, you'd get people bringing in old Primark and other tat, how would that work?

I think it depends where you live. When I lived in London, it was really easy to get/give away children's stuff on freecycle and local charity shops. So while I think it's a good idea, you might already have a lot of competition.

I do like the idea of a second-hand shop just for kids' stuff though. Could you attach some kind of activities to it, to draw in customers? Like a weekly meetup for new mums or something?

fibee29 Tue 08-Jan-13 09:50:07

Thanks for feedback. I was thinking of doing coffee morning and story hours for toddlers to start off with to get parents into the shop and to become part of the local community.
I myself went to charity shops when my kids were babies but have found that they are now lacking in anything decent and are quite over priced. I wouldnt be buying any old rubbish it would only be items that were in good condition and what i would be prepared to put my children in. And the idea of buying items off parents I hope would make them want to sell there clothing and baby items to my store and also have a browse whilst there. I live in west yorkshire and have found many shops in the £75 a week margin. I am also currently studying to be a Micb qualified book keeper which would be invaluable.

any ideas on other ways to get people in?

many thanks smile

Tee2072 Tue 08-Jan-13 09:51:36

We have a shop like that locally that is brilliant. I've sold on most of my son's baby stuff that way.

fibee29 Tue 08-Jan-13 09:53:31

I was hoping to make the shop look more like a retail shop ie. pumpkin patch, clean and tidy nicely decorated not like a standard charity shop/ second hand store. Just that all the item had been previously loved wink

BlissfullyIgnorant Tue 08-Jan-13 09:53:49

You'd have to be really near free parking!
You'd be in competition with eBay, Gumtree and Freecycle, and have business rates to deal with so may not be terribly financially lucrative.

Stretch it out a little...we flirted with the idea of a shop just for children and young people with disabilities (leaning and physical). The idea was massively popular at the hospital and among friends, but we just couldn't afford to do it. Trouble with 'disability equipment' is that it's all hugely expensive, really ugly and made for old people. There's very little funky stuff out there (some stuff in specialist catalogues) so if you have the capital and can find decent premises I would suggest that might be the way to go. You could have a cafe in the back with a 'relax zone' for the kids to sample some of the wares. If you're unsure about things, you could also employ an occupational therapist. Even simple stuff like art gear would sell well - there are thousands of kids with hypermobility that struggle with pens/pencils/ brushes...

AlwaysOneMissing Tue 08-Jan-13 10:02:11

I like this idea, I would definitely use somewhere like this.
I love the idea of you doubling up as a child friendly cafe too, I would love a place like this to open near me!
Good luck, keep us updated.

fibee29 Tue 08-Jan-13 10:09:20

i have thought about the competion of ebay etc but i think a local community shop (not in a city centre) would get a lot of people browsing. I myself am an avid ebayer but dont tend to buy clothing for kids as i like to have a look at the quality size etc and then theres the postage they wont have to pay.
I think i would like to start out small ie kids clothes, prams etc and then maybe branch out into a vaster range of goods once i had established a good name through local word of mouth. Plus ebay and the likes you have to wait for your item to sell whereas you could just bring the items to my shop and sell them instantly. I dont think it will make me a millionaire but i think it is a viable business idea with scope from growth and maybe it will help out the local community who tend to struggle making ends meet grin

fibee29 Tue 08-Jan-13 10:17:27

What about 'Baby changing Room' as a name? any name suggestions welcome!

Meringue33 Tue 08-Jan-13 10:31:48

Think it's an excellent idea. Could include maternity wear and I assume that you could also sell online via own website or eBay which would be a a low cost way to increase your pool of customers beyond your local area. You'd need to figure out the margins that would work, e.g. I worked in a second hand textbook store where we bought at 25% of RRP if books were in good condition, sold at 75% of RRP. If condition was poorer we knocked down both the purchase and sale price. That was very high volume though as located next to a uni. You will need to analyse footfall in your planned location and make some assumptions about daily sales. (Sorry you have probably already thought about all this!) Good luck :-)

I agree, it's a good idea to get maternity wear in too -- that's something people generally want to see first and not order online. Plus, it would bring in pregnant women, so you can get their loyalty early!

Maybe have some kind of 'community calendar' on the wall? You can list special events as well as ongoing baby groups or family activities, then you might get people popping in to see what's on. It's a good way to network with other businesses and social agencies too, and get some word of mouth going for you.

Also, be sure to start a Facebook page for your shop. You can post daily photos of new merchandise, people can 'like' you and help get your name out there, etc.

BedHog Tue 08-Jan-13 10:41:02

It would be better for your cashflow to accept the bigger items at least on a sale or return basis. That way you won't have to pay the parents who bring the stuff in until you've sold it and have the money, and if something doesn't sell quickly you won't be stuck with it.

We have a couple of shops like this near us and I sometimes use them. I would definitely sell through one and occasionally buy, although for clothes and toys I find boot fairs and NCT sales better value.

mistlethrush Tue 08-Jan-13 10:46:39

I think things on a commission basis would be a good way to go too - it stops your outlay from getting too high - but you would have to be careful with your paperwork and booking things in and agreeing prices etc if that were to work.

Might also be an idea to give a greater % if you give credit that can be spent in the store rather than simply cash - encourage stock to move at a higher level.

You would be in competition with the various sales eg NCT - have you seen what the prices are like at those and whether you would be able to compete?

MumVsKids Tue 08-Jan-13 10:58:20

We've had a couple of shops open and close in our local area in this exact field.

The first one sold mainly second hand baby clothes, but the pricing was not very competitive - especially considering there are two asda's close by, both carrying a huge range of baby and children's clothing. It was open for approx 6 months.

There was then another shop opened in the same premises, Bump and Beyond, and it was a shop where you took your old baby things, they bought them off you and sold them on. Unfortunately, the owners seemingly got very greedy very quickly, and they were paying the absolute least amount they could to the sellers, but then marking up the price hideously to increase their profit margins.

Just as an example, they purchased a mamas and papas Ultima travel system from a friend of mine, for £30. She was stupid to let it go IMHO but hey ho. They then put the system up for sale at £650.

People got wise to it very quickly, especially when they were selling second hand maternity wear for more than the original rrp.

In theory, I think the idea is fantastic, and there are examples of shops like this working out really well. There is another in another village close by which has been open for over 25 years (Sue's Nearly News).

I think what I am trying to say, in a very long winded way, don't try and sell people short, and you could have a real winner on your hands smile

Good luck.

fibee29 Tue 08-Jan-13 11:20:58

I can see what you mean about getting greedy but thats not my intention. I aim to become a useful part of the community if i bought something at a low price I would pass that saving onto the customer and make a smaller profit. In the long run you would probably make more profit that way anyway as this kind of business would thrive on local word of mouth.

lovemynathy Tue 08-Jan-13 11:35:36

BedHog has a good point. First of all to not buy it straight away, but take it on commission, in this way you do not have to spend money unless you sell it. Another thing to consider are carboot sales. We have a shop like this in our town with a lovely lady who runs it. Unfortunately it does not work well for her. Her staff is really nice, she has lots of people who bring her stuff to seel, even so she takes 50% of the sale price. But very often she says she does not make enough a week to pay for electric. Sorry hun, I didn't want to upset you, but it is a truth. She also started to hire equipment, but not much luck even after we helped her to take flayers of with 10% off voucher. But I like the idea you are going to do some baby events, that might change things. Consider location very wisely, I think it is a must be for business like this. And just to add I was playing with idea for a place where mum could come, leave her DC in enclosed space with toys and sit nest to it and able to use Internet or read a book. I do not mean these big play areas, but a small like a cafe or something. Good luck, never give up, I believe everything is possible when we put our mind on it. You are already make very clever steps by asking for a feed back from people who can give you an honest opinion.

lovemynathy Tue 08-Jan-13 11:37:40

Sorry for mistakes, my ipad has a mind of its own. I meant her stuff is really nice..

fibee29 Tue 08-Jan-13 11:59:58

i understand what you mean about location. But not to sure about commission selling? i would think people are more likely to come to the shop for cash there and then. surely they could advertise it themselves on ebay, gumtree etc with little outlay. I thinking that a community/housing estate kind of area would be best for the location. shops are cheaper to rent and it would be right in the centre of my target market. somewhere you can pop in after the school run. friendly atmosphere cup of tea and some bargains. was just looking at mini soft play areas. may be some toys etc with a child safety gate next to couple of table in one corner of the shop ? I like the community notice board idea......any other ideas more than welcome! smile

mistlethrush Tue 08-Jan-13 12:20:25

Fibee - commission side - what would you do if told, I can give you £20 for it now, or you can leave it here and if it sells in 6 weeks, you can have £30? That way you don't have the risk of buying it and the seller has a bigger incentive to bring you things....

joshandjamie Tue 08-Jan-13 13:29:59

I used to do PR for a lady who ran a shop just like this. It was gorgeous inside, but she ended up having to close it - partly because she fell pregnant again and she found it hard to juggle and partly because it was hard to make money. She now runs a consulting company to small businesses. I can pm you her details if you like as she will be able to give you real insight into what worked and what didn't

Maybe you could just do commission on bigger ticket items, like prams?

I personally wouldn't be so keen on waiting for commission for a couple baby shirts so I agree with your logic.

cassell Tue 08-Jan-13 13:39:36

We had a shop like this near us and it was lovely but closed down, presumably as they weren't making enough money. Things I liked about it - nice selection of toys well presented, designer clothes at primark prices. Things I didn't like - very poor selection of boys clothes - ie about 2 or 3 items only (and I visited a few times over several months and then gave up), didn't feel very welcoming, nowhere easy to park/poor public transport connections. I thought the idea was good in theory but didn't work in practice.

ZooAnimals Tue 08-Jan-13 13:49:53

We had a shop like this locally, but it closed down a few years back. I think there was too much competition from charity shops and reasonably priced 'normal' shops.

They had a children's hairdresser on site a couple of days a week and held a free gymboree session on a Saturday in order to get people in.

I think their mistake was pricing things too highly. They concentrated on designer/high end baby stuff though.

fibee29 Tue 08-Jan-13 14:01:41

was thinking of maybe organising a photo day like some playgyms do? where you can have your kids photo taken by a photographer and just buy the ones you like? may be once a month or so?
there is only one charity shop in our local area and it has a poor selection. It is also quite over priced at £5 for a pair of kids jeans that are used. I think I would have to have quite a large turn over of stock to create a decent profit but i think items priced at a couple of pound or so would do well and also if i do a basic child friendly cafe ie tea's coffee and cakes etc although i dont want the cafe side of things to take over.
I the decider is going to be the location. i dont think it would work in a high end neighbourhood or in a high street.

fibee29 Tue 08-Jan-13 14:02:37

joshandjamie-i would to speak to someone who had done something similar. thanks!

MyNewVenture Tue 08-Jan-13 14:11:42

I know someone who ran one of these. For them, they had to be somewhere quite central and the costs of the premises was so great they didn't make much/any money.

I know of another one further out of town and it has been there for years, so I assume it is used. We are not local and it seems a long way to go on the off chance of finding something/selling something.

Good luck if you go for it though.

fibee29 Tue 08-Jan-13 14:30:11

Maybe you would go though if there was one similar local to you smile i am looking into costings at the moment for shops and shopfitting etc to see if its viable or not. thanks for the input!

PootlePosyPerkin Tue 08-Jan-13 14:35:16

I had a very similar idea about 5 years ago grin. It didn't become a reality for me though as I didn't have the necessary start up costs. Instead I started small by becoming an eBay Business Seller specialising in children's clothes. My only word of warning would be that to start with you will have a huge amount of work to do, a large-ish outlay (obviously more than me as I sold from my desk at home) and, until your shop becomes established, you may be working for very little return.

It was about 6 months before I started making any profit, and I think this is not unusual for small businesses.

Idea wise, it's a good one & I'm sure you've done your sums already and prepared for the fact that you may not make an instant profit but just thought it worth mentioning smile.

Best of luck with it.

jennybeadle Tue 08-Jan-13 14:42:24

We had one like this locally, which only closed down because the landlord tripled the rent. She sold larger items on commission (cots, buggies etc) and I think clothes were a mixture of donated and commission.

After she closed a charity shop only doing kids stuff opened, and did so well another opened at the opposite end of the high street a couple of months ago. They key I think for both of the new shops is that everything is in great condition, and the shops well laid out, clean and bright. eg they will stock pile dinosaurs till they can do a whole window of dinosaur toys, or dressing up, or summer clothes.

Also after what fibee said about location - this a very very "naice" high st.

lechatnoir Tue 08-Jan-13 14:45:27

There's one near me that does a reasonable but not roaring trade. They sell mid to top end high street (gap, monsoon, Boden, joules etc) and designer clothes & shoes. I do find some of their stuff pricey (eg gap hoodies £14 which isn't far off new sale price) & although they do have some lovely bits, price wise H&M/primark still win for everyday wear & I really only go in for pricier bits like coats, snow gear & special occasion outfits.

newgirl Tue 08-Jan-13 14:45:34

there was a nice one just like this in st albans a few years ago and it didn't work beyond a year. And its a very busy place for families. I think if you can do it without the commitment of a premises then why not but shop rent is so high and you need to take a few hundred pounds a day to cover it - even a pram being sold would only get you say £50 a go and you wont sell a few a day

Allaquandry Tue 08-Jan-13 15:02:12

I don't think you will ever cover your costs and I'd probably find the gap between selling price and buying price unpalatable (regardless of how justifiable it might be).

Where I think there is a massive gap in the market is for people to take away the eBay aggro - especially from working mums. The working mums i know buy stuff new from Boden and Catamini etc, and we all have piles of it in our spare rooms, waiting until we 'get round' to flogging it on eBay. that day of course never, ever comes, and instead it just gathers dust. I'd happily give half the proceeds to someone who came round, took it off my hands and eBayed it all for me. Which would mean more money for me than I'd get from a second-hand shop, and more money for the person running it all because they'd have hardly any overheads (and no outlay risk).

I also recently sorted out a pile of over 400 children's books (including all the ORT read-at-homes. 60 beast quests, etc) - all in virtually mint condition, maybe £1,000 + original cost. And what can I do with it all? I'd hand that over for ebaying as well. Easy money to be made for someone - bit of advertising, networking at the local schools, ebay it all, and job done.

If I were op I'd also find that route would give me all the marketing I'd need to know what demand for a shop would be like in the area.

AlwaysOneMissing Tue 08-Jan-13 16:29:19

I think Allaquandry is on the button there.
One of the first people to become millionaires through eBay did exactly that - they sold eBay items on behalf of other people.
I thought when I read that what a genius idea it is, but unfortunately, I don't enjoy listing on eBay enough to start a business like this myself!

And I am the same, I have piles and piles of baby and children's clothes/books/toys just waiting to be sold on eBay.

If you are set on your original idea, I think there is maybe one flaw to your plan. I happen to think that to get good stock in, you are going to have be based in a pretty affluent area. Being located in a lower income area may have cheaper rent and a clientele who are looking for reduced price clothes, but it is the same clientele who you are relying on to supply you with quality items to sell. In reality, families on a lower income will probably be buying their new baby clothes from cheaper stores, which is why local charity shops have baby clothes in from Primark for example.
If you can only stock your shop with things from Primark/Asda etc it is perhaps not what is going to sell best.
(Sorry for the generalising there, but I hope you know what I mean)

I personally think that a shop like yours would do better in an affluent area, and I also think that people would travel in from outside areas to visit your shop, thinking that they would get better quality/designer clothes at a discounted price.

Along with that, I think that you should serve teas/coffees/cake and also fresh smoothies, fresh fruit, heathy snacks for children, and have a colouring in table or such like, so the children can be occupied while parents browse. This would make it a good place to stop off at on the way home from the school run. If I knew there was somewhere I could go for a good coffee and a healthy snack for my child, the browsing for clothes would be an added bonus and I know I would not resist buying something. Try to get people's impulse buys.

We used to have one of these in my town. It was great.

She folded after about 18m because she couldn't make enough money.

Ooh, I like allaquandry's idea as well.

I think not just working mums will go for this, there are also mums without a computer, or who aren't computer-literate, or who don't have a post office conveniently located so it would be a faff to have to post things off all the time.

zumo Wed 09-Jan-13 18:22:24

The locals who ran the computer fairs now do Baby fairs, just like a carboot but some new most used clothers
I may be wrong but I dont feel it would work as so much cheap stuff about and loads of charity shops, but it doesnt mean I am right

carocaro Fri 11-Jan-13 13:17:40

How about make it simpler, with a regular monthly table top sale in a local church hall to start with. Each person pays to the table and that is how you make the £ - the cost of the hall. Make it a decent brand, so people know it's decent stuff not piles of unwanted tat.

lovemynathy Sun 13-Jan-13 20:02:31

I still think commission is better. The shop I am talking about - she often has a sign that she does not take any more stuff as she has enough. It is difficult to sell cloth on line, you can end up selling whole bundle for 99p - I bought M&S bundle like this. People will be happy for you to take it of their hands. It will also can help you at the beginning to see what sell and what doesn't. Good luck hun

fibee29 Mon 14-Jan-13 13:34:28

i agree i dont think selling clothes on auction will make any profit i think the markets flooded already, i am now leaning towards the commision side for higher end items maybe looking at selling larger items ie cots and prams on ebay and such
thanks for all the ideas , its always useful to get some other peoples thoughts

DIYapprentice Mon 14-Jan-13 19:04:25

I think it's a great idea, but I think you need to start it on a smaller scale first. See if you can link up to a couple of play groups/baby groups and take a few rails of clothing to sell at them. That way you can build stock slowly, have a guaranteed clientele, and no/low site costs. Larger items you can sell via a notice board with pictures of the item. You could also have a website link which you can promote at these groups.

You could also send out flyers to parents via infant/primary schools offering to buy good quality items that their children have outgrown/no longer use.

When you see how well things sell, you can then perhaps move to a part time shop, and then to a full time one if it all goes well.

If you don't mind me asking, which area were you looking at starting this in?

Lastofthepodpeople Mon 14-Jan-13 19:09:46

I think its a great idea. I'd use it.

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