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Today's Family Magazine

Get some extra holiday cash at Once Upon A Child

By Deanna Adams

Nowadays especially, every parent is looking to stretch their dollars a bit further, as well as relinquish items their children have outgrown or no longer play with.  Why not do both by getting rid of those unwanted items and earn a little cash at the same time?

Once Upon a Child, with northeast Ohio locations in Mentor and Westlake, welcomes almost any children’s items that you no longer need yet are still in good condition.  The store is always interested in acquiring your quality, gently used children-related articles and can offer cash payment the very same day.  This includes seasonal children’s clothing, such as coats, boots, hats and gloves, along with toys, books and even furniture.  So if you’re in need of a little extra holiday cash, as well as more room in your household, now is the perfect time to get to Once Upon a Child. 

“We get excited every day to see what comes into our store,” says Tenealle Andrews, manager of the Mentor store.  “We all have a passion for fashion and we know we’re in competition with the bigger stores so we take pride in offering like-new items that are ready to sell and at a more affordable retail price.”  

The story behind this top-rated children’s corporation is an inspiring example of a parent having a much needed idea and running with it. In 1985, Lynn Blum, mother of three, decided to open up a resale shop for children’s clothes and toys.  The basic concept was to create an efficient and convenient way for parents to recycle their kid’s outgrown items.  It was an immediate hit and franchises were first offered in 1992.  Today, it is a burgeoning multiple-brand franchise operation with nearly 500 stores throughout North America. 

Linda Kessler is the proprietor of both the Mentor and Westlake stores.  She calls what she sells, “Kids stuff with previous experience.”  She’s always looking for baby gear and always willing to give cash for clothing, furniture, and equipment that is clean, with all parts and in good working condition.  They accept any clothing from preemie sizes to preteen, including dresswear, footwear, sleepwear and dancewear.  Any clothing with stains, fading, or excessive wear cannot be considered. 

“We are condition-based more than brand-based,” Andrews says.  “It doesn’t have to be only high-end merchandise.  We’re all about quality.  The items we select must meet current style, safety, and condition standards.”

So how does it all work?

While you don’t need an appointment to bring in your items, there are several guidelines to know ahead of time.  “Especially since COVID-19, there are sanitation rules in effect,” Andrews says.  “We ask that customers bring their gently used items in a plastic bin, tote or laundry basket, and all clothing must be freshly laundered.  Anything that comes in our store in plastic trash bags will not be accepted.”  She explains that clothing which sits in a plastic bag for any amount of time can become moist and bacteria can set in.  “And we all know, toys are always being touched by little hands and put into mouths, so these must be washed in hot, soapy water before being brought in.”  The toys and games most desired by parents are Fisher-Price and Mattel, especially Little People and classic kids’ games like Chutes and Ladders, Connect 4, and Operation.  Developmental toys are also in current demand due to the increase of kids being schooled at home more than ever before.

Once the items are dropped off, customers can shop while store employees go through the items one at a time to determine what is in good shape and has resale value. They maintain high merchandise standards by thoroughly inspecting all toys and equipment for any safety recalls.  Andrews has a good measure for determining if your items will be taken.  “Just think of it this way––whatever you most likely would buy here yourself is what we would buy from you.”   This means anything that parents will find affordable, convenient and sustainable.  Items should be folded neatly or laid flat in a box for delivery.

“Whatever we can’t use, we like to recommend that they take those items and donate them to Birthright [the nonprofit charitable organization],” Andrews says.  “And there is always The Salvation Army and Goodwill, too.”

Most customers who come into the store to offer up their items, stick around and shop for new things they need for their family.  “We always tell our customers, come to us first before you go to the mall,” Andrews says.  “It’s quite possible you’ll find what you’re looking for right here and you can often save up to 70% off.”

Once Upon a Child – Mentor

Colonial Plaza • 7537 Mentor Ave. 440-951-7222

Once Upon a Child – Westlake 25028 Center Ridge Road


Hours:  Mon.–Sat. 10–6 p.m., closed on Sunday