Store Owner Spotlight Kid’s Caboose
Our latest Store Owner Spotlight has a razor sharp focus on children’s retail and apparel. They keep their customers coming back year after year by continuing to offer great service, fun activities and eye-catching window displays. Get on board and take a ride with us to explore the wonderful world of Kid’s Caboose.
Kid’s Caboose is a resale clothing store that focuses on children’s apparel. They offer clothing from infants to juniors. They also carry an assortment of maternity wear for mothers to be. Their line of products also includes new and used children’s toys. The store is located in downtown Moberly Missouri, a city in the North-Central part of the state. In July they will have be celebrating their 10th year of business success. Owner Susan Hall is the proud owner of the Kid’s Caboose and is excited about her store and its beginnings.
What factors led you to decide to open a retail store/website?
“At the time I opened the store, I had worked in the banking field for over 30 years. I was burned out with a capital B! I needed some color in my life and banking is very black and white. That’s why I opened a children’s store. By adding the color, I was able to work nine more years in banking until I could reach my retirement age. Banking has a lot of aspects of selling to it, so I knew how to deal with customers. My degree was in Business Management. I am very organized and always had huge personal annual yard sales. People who came to my sales would comment how I had everything organized like a department store! Opening a retail store was not a big stretch for me.”
Kid’s Caboose has a fun train motif that starts on the outside of the building and continues inside the retail space. Moberly has a rich history with the railroad system and this plays nicely into that history. They have a large selection of clothing that is merchandised on clothing rail systems, round racks and other types of free standing clothing racks. The toys and retail sections are organized and well stocked. The wall colors feature rich primary tones of red, yellow and blue. Obviously, these are great colors that are attractive to children and adults alike. They have a beautiful, one-of-a-kind train caboose where children are encouraged to play as their parents shop.
What was your design strategy when you put your store together?
“Going with the railroad theme allowed lots of creative decorating. The first thing we wanted for the children’s store was a play area. So, we built a caboose and put some toys and books inside.”
What inspired the direction of the look of your store?
“For our hanging items, we went with outrigger racks along the walls with floor racks in the center. This allows us to add or subtract racks and move them around as inventory fluctuates and seasons change. Our location came with the check-out counter in the center and some built-in tiered shelving along the walls, which we have utilized for shoes and toy display. The store also already had a lot of peg-board on the walls, which we utilize. We also purchased the majority of our clear plastic re-usable hangers from Store Supply.”
What type of packaging do you use for your customer purchases and why?
“From day one we’ve used red T-shirt plastic bags. They are a good size and the red color goes along with the red caboose theme. I love driving down our street on the way to the store and seeing those red bags on the arms of pedestrians who have just made a purchase at my business.”
What are some features/special events that you do at your store to set yourself apart from other retailers?
“We are a part of our downtown association and participate with them on all their events. I do some fun things on my own, too. We have drawings for prize baskets or gift certificates. That’s a great way to get contact information from people. Then I can snail mail or email information to them. We’ve had a few art contests for kids. Last year at Easter we had a Peeps diorama contest. We had a pumpkin decorating contest at Halloween (not carving just decorating). This year when I decorated our window for Easter, I put lots and lots of bunnies in among the mannequins. There were stuffed bunnies, paper, felt, ceramic, large and small. People counted the bunnies and submitted their guess. Getting the correct count was much harder than I thought it would be. The guesses were all over the board, but we had a winner! Decorating my store windows is my favorite thing to do.”
What advice if any would you give others seeking to open a retail business that you have benefited from?
Susan’s advice is some of the best advice about business and what it takes to succeed.
“Do your research. Visit stores similar to the type you want your store to be. Make notes after you get back to the car of things you liked and didn’t like. Anytime you are traveling, take time to visit your peers. Make a business plan. Join a business organization, either Chamber of Commerce, Main Street, or even an organized strip mall group. I also belong to The National Association of Resale and Thrift Stores.”
“Start small and grow. When we first opened, we were only open 14 hours per week on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. As people started to discover us, we just kept increasing the hours that my husband and I could work and still maintain our “regular jobs”. Finally we hired someone part-time and expanded the hours even more. Check the store hours of the businesses around you. If they open at 9 a.m., you should too. If they are open later one or two nights a week, you should too. But, remember that it is easier to extend your hours than to shorten them. Never close before closing time! That one person who pulls up in front of your store at ten minutes until closing could be your biggest sale of the day. If you went home early, bummer!”
“Don’t think that you’ll get to just work the hours that your store is open. There is lots of behind-the-scenes stuff that must be dealt with. When I go in on a Sunday to catch up, I look up and down my street and see the cars of my fellow store owners parked in front of their businesses, too. The store owners who are not coming in extra hours are the ones who are not successful. Lots of businesses come and go and it’s pretty easy to predict.”
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