Selling Kids Clothes to Once Upon a Child – How Does It Work?

As parents, we all know the struggle of keeping up with our children’s ever-growing wardrobes. Those adorable onesies, tiny shoes, and colorful outfits seem to accumulate faster than we can say “growth spurt.” And as much as we love dressing our little ones, the reality is they outgrow their clothes faster than we can keep up, leaving us with piles of barely worn garments cluttering up our closets.

This blog post comes from my own experience trying to sell my kids’ clothes and accessories at our local Once Upon a Child in Sacramento. Just like so many moms, I did a big closet clean-out which resulted in huge piles of baby and toddler clothes that don’t fit my kids anymore. It’s kinda heartbreaking how fast they grow!

I wanted to see if I could earn any money from these items before I donated them to Goodwill. This was my first time ever attempting to sell with Once Upon a Child, and I honestly have mixed emotions about the whole experience. Keep reading to get all the details on all the items I submitted, and how much money I made.

What Is Once Upon a Child?

Once Upon a Child is a leading chain of children’s resale and consignment stores that specializes in buying and selling gently used kids’ clothing, shoes, toys, books, and baby gear. The stores offer a wide selection of high-quality items for infants, toddlers, and pre-teens at significantly reduced prices compared to new retail.

The concept behind Once Upon a Child is to provide a sustainable and economical solution for families by allowing them to sell their outgrown children’s items and purchase like-new products at a fraction of the cost. Each store is locally owned and operated, and follows a standardized process to ensure that only items in excellent condition are accepted. This includes checking for current styles, safety standards, and cleanliness.

Parents can find everything they need for their growing children, from seasonal clothing and everyday essentials to special occasion outfits and a variety of toys and books that stimulate development and imagination. The inventory is constantly changing, making each visit a unique treasure hunt for great deals.

Is Once Upon a Child Considered Sustainable Shopping?

Yes! You can feel good about buying and selling to this chain. Once Upon a Child is considered a model of sustainable shopping because it promotes the reuse and recycling of children’s clothing, toys, and equipment. By buying and selling gently used items, the store reduces the demand for new products, which in turn decreases the environmental impact associated with manufacturing, packaging, and transporting new goods. This practice not only extends the life cycle of high-quality children’s items but also helps to minimize waste that would otherwise end up in landfills.

Additionally, by providing a platform for parents to sell items their children have outgrown and purchase like-new products at a lower cost, Once Upon a Child supports a circular economy that benefits both the environment and the community. This approach aligns with sustainable living principles, making it an attractive option for eco-conscious families.

Where Are Once Upon a Child Stores Located?

Once Upon a Child stores are located all over North America in the USA and Canada. We live in the Sacramento area of California and we have a handful of stores within a 30 minute drive from us. Check here for a local store near you.

What Kinds of Items Does Once Upon a Child Buy and Sell?

Once Upon a Child buys and sells a wide variety of gently used children’s items, focusing on products that are in excellent condition and meet current safety standards. Here are the main categories of items they handle:

  • Clothing: Includes everyday wear, seasonal outfits, special occasion clothing, outerwear, sleepwear, and accessories for infants, toddlers, and pre-teens.
  • Footwear: Ranges from casual shoes and sneakers to boots, sandals, and dress shoes, catering to different age groups and sizes.
  • Toys: A broad selection of toys, including educational toys, action figures, dolls, building sets, and outdoor play equipment that are clean, safe, and in good working condition.
  • Books: A variety of children’s books, from board books for infants to chapter books for older kids, promoting literacy and a love for reading.
  • Baby Gear: Essential items for babies, such as strollers, high chairs, playpens, bouncers, and swings. All items must meet current safety standards and be in excellent working condition.
  • Furniture: Children’s furniture, including cribs, toddler beds, dressers, and changing tables, that are sturdy, safe, and in good condition. Note – in Canada they will not accept cribs or dressers, only in the USA.
  • Accessories: Various accessories like diaper bags, backpacks, lunch boxes, hats, and belts that complement children’s wardrobes and needs.

What Clothing Sizes Does Once Upon a Child Accept?

  • They buy clothes sizes from preemie to Youth 20.

Top Selling Baby and Kids Brands at Once Upon a Child

Once Upon a Child carries a wide variety of brands, ranging from budget-friendly to higher-end labels. Some of the top-selling and most frequently found brands at Once Upon a Child include:

  • GAP
  • Old Navy
  • Carter’s
  • Cat & Jack (Target brand)
  • Cherokee (older Target brand)
  • Jumping Beans
  • Burt’s Bees Baby
  • Disney
  • Ralph Lauren Polo
  • First Impressions
  • Jessica Simpson
  • Gymboree
  • Children’s Place
  • OshKosh B’Gosh
  • Outdoor brands like REI, Columbia, Patagonia, etc.

In addition to these, you might also find coveted but less commonly available clothing brands such as:

  • ZARA
  • H&M
  • Art Class (Target)
  • Polarn O. Pyret
  • Joules
  • Primary
  • Hatley
  • Cotton On
  • Q by Quincy Mae (Target)
  • Land’s End
  • See Kai Run
  • Mini Boden or Baby Boden
  • Matilda Jane
  • Kate Spade
  • Crewcuts​

Popular Toy Brands to Resell

  • Melissa & Doug: Known for its educational and wooden toys that parents often seek out.
  • Montessori Play Sets
  • Wooden Building Blocks
  • LEGO: Consistently a top-performing brand with high demand due to its enduring popularity and wide range of sets.
  • Fisher-Price: Known for its high-quality baby and toddler toys
  • Disney: Toys based on Disney characters and franchises are always in demand.
  • Mattel: Includes well-loved brands like Barbie and Hot Wheels.

Baby Gear Brands in High-Demand

Buying baby gear brand-new from the original retailer is very expensive. So many parents look for these premium brands at consignment stores.

  • UPPAbaby: Known for their high-quality strollers like the Vista V2, which can accommodate up to three children with various configurations and features excellent storage options and durability.
  • Nuna: Offers premium baby products including strollers that are highly regarded for their sleek design.
  • 4moms: Innovates with products like the MamaRoo Multi-Motion Baby Swing, which mimics parents’ natural movements to soothe babies.
  • Spectra: Their S1 Plus breast pump is a favorite among working moms for its efficiency and comfort​.
  • Elvie: Known for their wearable breast pumps, offering convenience and mobility to breastfeeding mothers.
  • JuJuBe: Their diaper bags are celebrated for their style, functionality, and durability, making them a top choice for parents.
  • Maxi-Cosi: Maxi-Cosi is a well-regarded brand in the baby gear market, particularly known for its strollers that combine style, safety, and practicality.
  • SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet: A high-tech baby bed designed to automatically respond to a baby’s cries with soothing rocking and white noise to help them sleep better and longer.
  • Tula Baby Carrier: A comfortable and ergonomic baby carrier designed to support both baby and parent

Reasons Why My Items Would Be Rejected at Once Upon a Child

When selling items to Once Upon a Child, your items will go through an inspection process by the store team. They will use the following list of criteria to either approve or reject your items.

One thing to consider when going through the inspection process, when looking at the items that get approved, it’s often a case by case scenario. In my experience, some people will approve an item that another person or location will reject. So just keep trying if you think your item is good quality with more life left in it!

Here are some common reasons for approvals or rejections:

  • Condition: Items must be in gently used or like-new condition. Clothing with stains, tears, fading, excessive wear, or missing buttons/zippers will be rejected. Similarly, toys and equipment that are broken, missing parts, or heavily worn will not be accepted.
  • Safety Standards: All items, particularly baby gear and toys, must meet current safety standards. Items that have been recalled, do not have the appropriate safety labels, or are outdated models that no longer comply with safety regulations will be turned away.
  • Banned Items: Because of safety standards, Once Upon a Child never accepts car seats. We sold ours on Facebook Marketplace because we couldn’t find any consignment place that would take it.
  • Current Styles: Clothing should be current in style and seasonally appropriate. Outdated fashions or items that are out of season may not be accepted.
  • Cleanliness: All items, especially clothing and gear, must be clean and odor-free. Items that are dirty, have pet hair, or unpleasant odors will be rejected.
  • Excess Inventory: The store may already have an ample supply of certain items. If they are overstocked on specific types of clothing, toys, or gear, they may not accept additional items in those categories.
  • Brand and Quality: Once Upon a Child often prefers certain brands known for their durability and popularity. Items from lesser-known or lower-quality brands might not be accepted.
  • Age and Wear: Items that are too old or show signs of heavy use, even if they are still functional, may be declined. This includes books with torn pages, toys with faded colors, or gear that has seen significant use.

Understanding these criteria can help you better prepare your items for sale and increase the likelihood that they will be accepted by Once Upon a Child.

How Much Money Do I Get For My Items at Once Upon a Child?

When I went into sell my items, this was my big question… how much am I going to get for my items? When I asked the staff, I got a very quick response that didn’t really clarify things very much for me. I had to go back home and search on the internet what the actually policies are with prices and selling to Once Upon a Child.

What I found is that the amount they will pay you varies greatly by each individual franchise store. There’s no standard price set on their company-wide website. Some individual stores will pay up to 30% – 50% of what they hope to sell it for (which is around 70% off retail). While other stores are only giving you 10% – 15% of their selling price.

My advice is to ask as many questions as you can before handing over your items, but I have found that the store buyers can be intentionally illusive on what they are actually giving you. I think they just assume that parents just want to get rid of things anyway, and are happy to get anything for them items. But if you are planning on trying to make a profit, I would press them further on their policies.

How Does the Selling Process Work at Once Upon a Child?

This is the way the selling process goes at Once Upon a Child. They suggest you come in when they first open to drop off your items. If they get too much stuff to review, they will stop accepting items for the day, and this can happen as early as 12noon on busy days. The weekends tend to be busier, so they suggest weekdays.

You will check-in and drop your items off at the counter. They will have you sign-up for their phone alerts. When I dropped-off, they told me it would be about a 2-hour wait time to come back when they had finished the review. In about 1.5 hours, I received a call to come back to the store.

To give you some perspective, before I dropped off my items I counted that I had 102 individual items left for review. One of these items was a like-new Tula baby carrier still inside the box (original retail value was $189).

At pick-up, they handed me the bags of rejected items back and gave me $55.10 in cash. To say I was disappointed with the earnings was an understatement. They basically took all the best stuff, gave no kind of breakdown of what I earned for each item. They also did not give me any choice if I wanted to sell those items for their offering price. If I had known I would get so little for these expensive items, I would have possibly tried selling them myself somewhere else (like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Poshmark, Mercari, etc.). Yes, there’s the convenience factor, but I still think I deserved more clarity and compensation.

Do I Need to Make an Appointment to Sell?

Once Upon a Child does not take appointments, and they will not hold a spot for you in the selling line. Your best bet is to arrive as early as you can and plan on waiting around in the area for a while.

Does Once Upon a Child Only Buy for the Upcoming Season?

Because of inventory storage issues, many consignment stores are only looking to buy for the current or upcoming season. This means that sellers need to keep and store off-season items in their homes for long stretches during the year. One benefit to selling to Once Upon a Child is that they buy items for all seasons, all year long. This means you can clear out your closet and make space in your home when your kids have outgrown clothing from the prior season.

Does Once Upon a Child Pay Cash or Store Credit?

When I went into the store to sell my items, the only option available was to cash out. They did not offer any store credit.

Never Sell Any Baby Clothes with Sentimental Value

A fair warning, beware of the surprise emotional toll that sneaks up when selling your own baby’s outgrown clothes. When selling baby clothes to Once Upon a Child, it’s important to be mindful of any items that hold extra special sentimental value. These clothes often carry precious memories, such as the outfit your baby wore home from the hospital or their first birthday dress.

While Once Upon a Child offers a convenient way to declutter and earn some cash, sentimental items are irreplaceable and might not bring you significant monetary value in comparison to their emotional worth. To avoid future regret, consider setting aside these cherished pieces and finding alternative ways to preserve them, such as creating a keepsake quilt or shadow box, which can serve as a lasting tribute to those special moments.

In all honesty, when you see the very small amounts of money they will give you for these items, it can be almost hurtful or heartbreaking when they have special memories attached to them.

Try Selling at Multiple Once Upon a Child Locations

If you had a negative or lukewarm experience trying to sell at a Once Upon a Child store, I suggest giving another location a chance (this is assuming of course that you have multiple stores in your area). Despite being a franchise, I have seen a lot of variation and differences between different owners. And I will also add that the customer service and friendliness really varies as well.

Once Upon a Child Prices vs Goodwill Prices

If you’re looking at the selling prices of the items at Once Upon a Child, the clothing and toys are usually comparable to Goodwill. Although I do think some Goodwill locations are cheaper (especially the Goodwill outlets where you buy by the pound).

The true benefit of shopping at Once Upon a Child is the selection of sizes and variety available. Also, you will not find baby gear and furniture at Goodwill (they items are usually banned for donations).

Can I Own a Once Upon a Child Store In My City?

Interested in making a bigger commitment to the reselling business of kids clothes? Owning a Once Upon a Child franchise offers an opportunity to be part of a well-established brand in the children’s resale market, which emphasizes sustainability and affordability. As a franchise owner, you benefit from the brand’s strong recognition and proven business model that focuses on buying and selling gently used children’s clothing, toys, and baby gear. This venture not only allows you to contribute to eco-friendly practices by promoting the reuse of high-quality children’s items but also caters to budget-conscious parents looking for great deals.

Moreover, with comprehensive support from the franchisor, including training, marketing, and operational assistance, franchisees are well-equipped to run a successful store. The flexibility of being your own boss, combined with the community impact of providing affordable children’s products, makes owning a Once Upon a Child franchise both financially and personally rewarding​.

In Conclusion

My key takeaways from my selling experience with Once Upon a Child is this: keep your expectations very low and only bring in items that you are planning on donating anyway. If you are simply looking to declutter and aren’t concerned much about the money part, it may be a better alternative to just donating straight to Goodwill. They also take a lot of the baby furniture and gear that Goodwill won’t accept.

If you are looking to actually make money by reselling kids clothes and toys, you may want to consider other alternatives like Just Between Friends Consignment, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Poshmark, Mercari or Vinted. I personally found that I made very little money from my items when selling with Once Upon a Child, and I felt like they really lacked in transparency and explaining their selling prices policies.


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