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Columbia child-focused thrift store booming in tough times

krupon@t hestate.comOctober 5, 2012 

Once Upon a Child opened in Columbia in 2005, when unemployment was low and buyers were getting into bidding wars over houses as soon as they went on the market.

Today, the store, which buys and sells gently used children’s clothing and other items, is booming in an economy that went bust and made thrift shopping a sport.

Joe and Tammy Henderson, owners of the Columbia franchise, recently opened a second location at 10136 Two Notch Road in Northeast Richland and knocked down a wall to double the size of their original store at 264 Harbison Blvd.

“Since the economy has gotten worse, our business is starting to boom,” Joe Henderson said. “We set the record for corporate sales the first day (the Two Notch store was open).”

Both stores – each 8,000 square feet and employing 19 – are “packed with inventory,” said Henderson. “There’s never a shortage in Columbia.”

The business buys items on the spot, instead of using consignment, and takes clothes through about middle-school age. It also buys and sells baby items, such as cribs and high chairs, toys and pretty much “anything related to kids,” Henderson said.

The Hendersons – both of whom have backgrounds in retail jewelry sales and marketing – became interested in the idea a decade ago, when they started having kids. They visited a location of the national franchise in Charlotte, and soon owned franchises in Myrtle Beach and Columbia.

“We thought it was an excellent concept,” Joe Henderson said.

Not only does it help families who are on a clothing budget, but it provides sometimes-much-needed cash to those whose children have outgrown their clothes.

“Buy, sell, repeat,” Henderson said. “That’s the name of the game.”

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•  Our Hands Together Artisan Market will hold its annual outdoor fall arts and crafts festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in its parking lot, 101-A Ballentine Park Road in Irmo. The free festival will feature more than 55 local artisans selling their handcrafted creations and live music by Dutch Fork High School senior Justin Tweito. If you’re feeling generous, bring peanut butter, dish detergent, sugar, toilet paper or diapers for the Sharing God’s Love charity and get a free pair of crystal or stone earrings from local jewelry maker Sarah Newman-Norlund of Ducky Designs.

•  Cayce is in line to get a new Family Dollar store, according to NAI Avant. Commercial broker Rob Lapin recently brokered a deal to sell almost an acre at 2442 Charleston Highway to Red Development Partners of Charlotte for $260,000 for the project, the brokerage company said.

Dickey’s Barbecue at 10136 Two Notch Road in Northeast Richland is serving $1 pulled pork barbecue sandwiches from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today during its grand opening celebration. Three customers also will win free barbecue for a year. The restaurant, which opened in June, is owned by Donnell Brown and managed by his son, Jason.

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