Once Upon A Child Celebrates 20 Years Of Community Resale
DANBURY — In 1999, Diana Maunsell was newly married and looking to start her own business. She knew she wanted to pursue a path that would be fun and feel like an adventure each day.
When she came across the Once Upon A Child resale franchise, she knew it was the right decision.
Once Upon A Child is the largest children’s resale franchise in North America today, with more than 380 stores throughout the United States and Canada.
The franchise specializes in reselling gently used clothing, shoes, toys, books, and baby gear.
Ms Maunsell opened her shop in April 1999, in Berkshire Shopping Center at 67 Newtown Road in Danbury, next to Walmart, and has been building a dedicated community following ever since.
Over the last two decades, Ms Maunsell has seen many of her customers go from being moms with newborns to now raising young adults, and she has seen countless children grow up and benefit from Once Upon A Child.
Her love and appreciation for the store grew as she herself became a mom — now of two teenagers. She experienced firsthand the joy of enriching her children’s lives and building their nursery affordably.
“We consider ourselves a resale store, not a consignment store,” Ms Maunsell said of the store’s business model.
People can visit Monday through Saturday between 9:30 am and 6 pm, without having to make an appointment, and have their items evaluated for resale, then leave the same day with payment.
“Our mission is for moms to be able to do this easily, quickly, but also benefit with going away with money that they can now use to buy more kids’ stuff,” Ms Maunsell said.
“Customers are able to do their recycling, get their money right away, and move on with their life and not feel like they are stuck in that consignment loop,” she added.
The concept of recycling is incredibly important to her in that it allows parents to declutter their spaces to make room for new items. It also is an environmentally friendly concept.
“Everything you see in the store, if we weren’t in town, it might have ended up in a [land]fill,” Ms Maunsell said. “Whatever anyone has, we try to find it a home and not in the trash.”
While she acknowledges that taking in so many items to resell causes the store to be packed from floor to ceiling, she ensures that everything is meticulously organized. Clothing is sized and even colored-coded for the easiest shopping experience for those sifting through the wide selection.
Once Upon A Child in Danbury offers clothing for children as young as preemie newborns all the way up to 18-youth.
“We have every brand under one roof,” Ms Maunsell said. “People can really have fun with their wardrobes, because they are getting tons of different styles and can mix and match.”
Shoes are sorted in blue bins by size and style; toys — from Legos to electronics — are arranged by category throughout clear containers and shelving; and books range from baby board books to young adult reads, like Harry Potter and Twilight.
“We’ve become a big source of books for the community,” Ms Maunsell said. “We have a lot of WestConn students going into education who start building their library here. We also have nursery schools, preschools, and elementary schools where the teachers are getting their shopping done here.”
Once Upon a Child also has a wide selection of baby gear available that includes everything from strollers to bouncy seats and Bumbo chairs.
“The awesome thing about the baby gear and the toys is that we check everything for safety recalls to make sure there are no consumer protection recalls,” Ms Maunsell assured. “Besides checking that [an item] is not recalled, we do our own testing, making sure every wheel is on, snap is on, and we test it with batteries to see if it works.”
While many customers choose to visit the shop often to see what new items have been brought in, a new generation of moms and shoppers are turning to social media to do their browsing.
Once Upon A Child has crafted a strong social media presence to stay connected with their client base that enjoys searching for items online. With new items coming in constantly, Ms Maunsell says they post an average of six to ten times a day on Instagram (instagram.com/onceuponachilddanbury) to show the newest treasures.
“People love to see what’s coming in the door,” Ms Maunsell said.
Even though the shop does not take payment for products over the phone, people can call in and request the item be held for a few hours before heading in to purchase it.
The accessibility and convenience online shopping has created for retail has been beneficial, but Ms Maunsell does encourage the public continue to “shop local and shop small.”
“The internet is here, and online shopping is not going away,” she said, “but if people don’t make it a point to try to shop local, there will be less and less stores, and when you need that last minute [item], there won’t be any stores to get it.”
Ms Maunsell added, “We have 20 local people employed — I have high school students, college students, moms, and grandmas. Those 20 people are counting on this job.”
Investing in the community is of utmost importance to the Once Upon A Child owner, which is why she has decided to celebrate the store’s anniversary year-round. Already, the store has had participated in multiple community events and is seeking more opportunities.
“We are constantly looking for ways to connect with the community and tell our story about being around for 20 years,” Ms Maunsell said. “We wouldn’t be able to be here for 20 years if it wasn’t for them.”
Once Upon A Child, 67 Newtown Road in Danbury, is open daily: Monday through Saturday, 9:30 am to 8 pm; and Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm. For more information about Once Upon A Child in Danbury, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-791-2393.