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A mother's touch helps consignment store boom

She knows that parents on a budget also want quality for their kids.

By Lisa Buie Times Staff Writer
Published October 19, 2007

For nearly nine years, Melanie Worton has been a godsend to young families trying to stretch a dollar. The 33-year-old mother of two opened her first consignment boutique, All About Kids, in Wesley Chapel in 1998 behind the old Peacock's Barbecue on State Road 54. She then opened a second location on U.S. 41 near the apex of Dale Mabry Highway, but when new owners bought her Wesley Chapel building, she made the Land O'Lakes store her headquarters. She started out with 100 sellers. Today she has about 1,600. The Times caught up with Worton at the store on one of her rare days off.


How did you get into the consignment business?

I was a stay-at-home mom, and I took a job in a consignment shop (in Temple Terrace) and I liked it, and it kind of snowballed from there.


Your boys are only two years apart. What was it like raising two so young?

(Laughs) Great now. The first year, it's a bear. But I think you do what you have to do. It's definitely challenging. When you decide to have the second, you think, "I can do this again," but you forget you still have the first one. But my second one was very laid-back. I started the store when my oldest was in first grade, and my youngest was in preschool. I knew I wanted to go back to work.


When you decided to branch out on your own, how did you settle on a location?

I looked at demographics. I was looking for young families, first-time home buyers in middle-class neighborhoods. I had no desire to be backdoor competition for the girl I worked for.


How do you start up a consignment shop?

It was hard at first, just a lot of networking and meeting people and getting your name out there. I advertised with a lot of moms' clubs. I collected a lot of inventory before I was able to start.


You started with 100 consignors. Now you have 1,600. What's the secret to success?

Excellent customer service. My consignors get 40 percent of the sale price, and they know they'll get their checks on time. We also sell gear, not just clothes. And we're very picky. Some people might say 'I can get something new for that price at Wal-Mart,' but there's a quality issue. Here you can get Gymboree, the Children's Place, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren. It makes the higher end stuff affordable for people who don't want to pay the higher price.


What's the most unusual thing someone has submitted for sale?

Hmmm ... Somebody brought a baby book in, with all their baby's information. I hoped it was a mistake, and I called. She came and picked it back up.


What are your best-selling items?

Outdoor toys. Car seats.


What about your future?

Right now, I'm kind of winging it through life (laughs). I'm getting married next year (Nov. 14, 2008).


You two planning any kids?

My kids (13 and 11) are older. Right now, that's not in my plan.

[Last modified October 18, 2007, 06:51:46]

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