Having children is always costly, but in recent years the struggling economy has made life that much more trying. One of the most expensive things for new mothers is obtaining all of the essentials for baby. Unless you have a huge baby shower and lots of gracious friends, you will be on your own in the quest for filling your nursery. There is all sorts of furniture and equipment, clothes, diapers, special cups, and so many other necessities. And after they grow out of all that stuff, what do you do with it? It's taking up space, and you probably won't use it again... And now I have to buy them clothes all the time-kids grow every day! And the older they get, the more expensive their taste and size become. What about all the toys? They want so many of these new fangled trinkets, and I have a room full of toddler toys. Imagine my elation when I discovered the "Once Upon a Child Store."
The Once Upon a Child Store is a national franchise of second-hand, reselling stores. [continued below]....
..... They are not consignment stores, and they make that very clear. They rely on customers to bring in their children's products. There they decide what they would like to purchase from the customer. Then they wrap it up, put a tag on it, and display it in their store, selling it for a fraction of the cost at a name brand store. It's a fabulous idea, but my experience crushed my hopes.... This particular location had opened a new store in my area. It was so big and beautiful-it was as professional looking as any other shopping chain. Sometimes I can find a great deal on a set of onesies. And stylish jeans for my 6-year-old are significantly less expensive here. They have strollers and all of the baby equipment for 1/3 of the cost at most stores. They also have a huge toy section... It seemed so ideal...
I've had an inside look at the workings of this particular location, and it troubled me so much that I refuse to shop here anymore. It's sad since it is the biggest store in the area, but it isn't worth the unpleasant experiences. Here are my complaints/warnings to other moms and shoppers:
#1. Prices-The website and store chain boasts prices at small percentage of what you'd pay anywhere else. Even in their old location I found that their prices are unnecessarily high. When it comes to infant attire and onesies, they only sell certain kinds. Most of them are sold singularly and are not worth $4 or $5 each... The higher up you go, the more ridiculous the prices climb. Jeans at Wal-Mart aren't as expensive as they are here. Their argument is that all of their merchandise is name brand.... they sell the same brands as Wal-Mart and other major chains! And their merchandise isn't even knew-it's used, has worn knees, looks like it's been washed and has faded quite a bit, and it always smells. And the equipment is worse. They sell stylish wooden cribs, name brand strollers, and swings and bouncers at a discounted price, but it's not as discounted as perhaps it should be. Often there are stains/missing pieces and such, but they still justify their cost by flaunting those name brands. The toys could be a great deal and so much more accessible to struggling moms, but the store enjoys taking as much of your money as possible. Most of the discounts are $1 or $2, and they wrap it up so there is no way of knowing if it has all of its pieces or even what you're getting! The shoes are perhaps the worst pricing problem. Shoes wear very easily. Some can be expensive, especially the name brands, but if you look at the faded laces and smoothe feet, you wonder why they would charge you so much for shoes that are almost already falling apart!
#2. Name Brand Obsession-This particular location emphasizes that they will only buy items that they are familiar with/like. For example, they sell names like Eddie Bauer which are known for being both high end and EXPENSIVE. So, a crib that costs $500, they sell for nearly $400, and that's their great discount. Shirts from name brands are the same price you'd find in their store, but at least in the real store they are clean, brand new, and have never been in a stranger's home. Toys have to boast a name brand that way they can explain the cost.
#3. Ambiguous Pricing-I have witnessed the buyers' pricing process. They look at an item for scratches, wear and tear, staining, fading, smell, and name brands. Of course, if you bring in a brand new item that is the off brand, they will probably "pass" on it or give you a tiny price... But if you bring in any name brand item, even if it's worn or tattered, they will buy it from you. The reason for that is so that they can knock a dollar or two off the normal price of the item... Their computer system allows them to select the type of item, the brand, the size, and the state of it (value, regular, or premium). I have seen, at this store, that they NEVER use the value button. They don't use the premium button a lot either-they sneak around the system set pricing by customizing the price and manually inserting the brand name. Then they can set a much higher price than is given in the system because they feel they can make more money from it than is listed. I have seen it so often, and it's very upsetting.
#4. Your Profit-You get paid to sell them your items, but that's if they choose to purchase them from you and how much they'd like to make off it. You only make a small percentage of what they sell it for (under 30%). So they can sell things for $8 and you will make less than $2 from it. They do not give you any sheet stating the specific prices of every shirt/item you're selling. They just tell you how much total they are willing to pay you... how much are they making from it? I guarantee you, if you get paid $13, they are making at least $40-60. It really is bad business to price items but give your seller no information about each purchase. They tell you why they've declined or priced low and can be a bit rude about it. They say, "look this is really stained" or "see, this is missing pieces here". In fact, they are instructed to set out really bad items from your selection to be the "example." They find the worst of all your items and use it against you later when you inquire as to the low payment you'll be receiving. I think it's really rude that they tell you, in the same instant you ask about the price, that you can decline if you want to... It's like telling you they don't need your money or something... It's just so rude. I suppose they forget their business only has merchandise to sell if you sell it to them. Shouldn't they be more grateful to you? It's baffling.
#5. Rude Employees- This location is run by a very...transparent woman. She isn't very nice to her customers and often when they walk away, she rolls her eyes and makes fun of them. She isn't there all that much which is disappointing because her staff is far worse! The "buyers" who take your items to consider purchasing, treat you like you should be grateful to come in and plead to them. They talk down to you. They do not smile and say "Welcome." If anything they survey what's in your hands first and begin sighing and complaining. I've come in carrying all sorts of equipment. I struggle to get the door open and fumble up to them. They just stand there and stare blankly back at me... Then they bend over the counter and say "We won't buy that." Just like that! I was caught off guard by such blatant disrespect. She said they have too many of those right now, so they won't even look at it... I would have been fine with it if she'd at least given me a "hello" before insulting me! And if you don't bring your items in a neatly fold pile in a laundry basket, you will not receive much attention. Many people bring clothes in trash bags, and when employees see it, I have heard them whisper to each other not to waste much time going through it... I understand they want things to be fresher and not wrinkled, but there could be brand new Calvin Klein in there for all you know! Going to the register, you may wait a minute or two before anyone even notices you. From there they delegate to each other and complain about who has to help you... If you stand in front of someone at a register, they will have you wait then, after a few minutes, will instruct you to another person...I have watched them review people's items to buy, and they will make faces and laugh with each other about how outdated/ugly something is, and they may or may not realize that the customer is watching and sees/hears it all... I have seen them literally yell at people and be completely rude to them. A woman once made a remark that she could buy the same crib at Wal-Mart for the same price and it would be brand new. One of the employees says to her verbatim, "Well then maybe you should go shop at Wal-Mart." The woman was soooooo immensely offended and began yelling back at the employee. She had apparently been a customer for years and was not happy to be treated that way. She said she would never come back to the store. And when she left, the employee didn't care. She laughed at the woman and said she had only told her the truth... Even in the bathroom you are treated with disrespect; they make sure you know not to leave any smelly diapers in there. You have to carry it around with you or exit the store to place it in a trash bin... As a mother, I find that upsetting. Don't they sell diaper genies? Couldn't they implement one in their own children's store? Why do they make you do so much for them? You are their customer, so they should be doing everything they can to please you! They will rush you out of the store at night, they will make you stand outside until the second they open, they will not help you with any of your items, they speak to you in such an unprofessional manner-the employees make shopping an unhappy experience.
#6. Unorganized-Being a busy mom, I keep my house and my life very orderly and organized, so this store really gets under my skin. They sell books on this really nice shelf, but they are literally just thrown and shoved into the shelves in no particular order. It would be easier to shop if I could find a the books easily. The clothing is marked pretty well if you can understand their sizing processes and such. But the toy section is absolutely horrendous. There is no organization. They have a lot of merchandise in this area, but seriously-you cannot find anything. Just walking by it, all you see are bags of wrapped toys/sets stuffed between tricycles and in between things. It's such a mess. And the way they have the things wrapped makes it impossible to see what it contains/what condition it's in. And the staff often has no clue about the products. I ask them about a breast pump or a jumper and all sorts of equipment, and I am more informed than they are! It's upsetting. You expect me to buy your product when you can't tell me anything about it! They don't wash the clothes they buy from people, so that makes it a little questionable. You don't know where it's come from. And if you have allergies to cats and such, I wouldn't recommend shopping here. These clothes could come from a house with animals. The shoes aren't cleaned, either, which is another sanitary concern.
#7. Style- When considering what they want to purchase from you, the buyers focus not only on the name brand and condition of your items, but they also have opinions on style. If they don't like something, they won't buy it. Why should their taste preferences determine what you can sell/buy? They are seriously hindering their sales by limiting what they take in. Some things may not be appealing to them, but someone else may love it! It's just rude to tell customers you will pass on their items because of style... I find that offensive. And I don't like that these rude individuals are the only ones shaping the style of the store. I want to be able to buy all sorts of clothes here, not just what they deem worthy.
#8. Eco-Friendly- The store encourages the "go-green" policy in a number of ways, but in truth it's all a ploy to save their own money. They tell you if you don't take a plastic bag then you get a little reward on your customer card (1 punch). Most people think it's a great deal, but you know they're not doing it for you or for the earth. They are saving money on those bags by never having to restock. If you ask for a bag, a lot of times they have trouble even locating it... Baby hangers are also hard to find. Given that they have so many, you expect to be able to take it with you when you purchase infant attire. But, when they ring you up, the first thing they do is remove the hangers. You can ask to keep them, but they will always tell you no... It's hard to find these, and they're already on the hangers. They say they recycle/reuse them. That makes sense, but they have access to wholesale buying and could place a large purchase at a low price. But they will not spend money on hangers when they can deprive you of them. They have no problem denying you anything.
#9. Customer Service-They genuinely do not care about their customers. The idea of the store is for you to make a little money from your unused children's items and to be able to afford giving your child/new baby everything they need/deserve. But this store doesn't care about that. I've seen employees ask the boss why she is changing the prices they determined, and the owner tells them they could "get more" from it than that. I thought the purpose of this "second-hand" store was to make many of these items affordable for lower income families. Apparently they see it as a way to rip us all off by claiming lower prices while charging nearly the same for things.
They feel superior to you and enjoy treating you like a child. They want to pay you as little as possible and charge as much as possible to sell things. If the employees were nicer or cared more for their customers, this store would be fantastic. But all they care about here is boasting their name brands. I don't shop there to get a name brand for less. If I was just looking for a name brand discount store, I would look for that. But this store is supposed to be selling all sorts of children's items at a more affordable price... they have really lost their focus. They want to be some high end, second-hand store... they are not! I will not shop here again just because of my experiences and what I've witnessed. It's disappointing considering how much I love the idea of this franchise, but this particular location has lost my business. I just want to warn shoppers, people who want to sell their precious baby items, and others about this store and its inappropriate business tactics.