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Cedar Mill News
Volume 6, Issue 9


September 2008

Baby & Me ExteriorFeatured Business
Baby & Me

by Virginia Bruce

Anita Winters-Herold and Mary Wygal had worked together for many years when they decided to look into opening or buying an existing children’s resale business. Baby & Me Children’s Resale was up for sale. Both had worked all their lives in corporate retail management, and were ready for a change, so they decided to purchase the business, which had been a fixture in Cedar Mill since 1978.

Mary’s kids were young, and Anita’s children were babies, but they didn’t try to mix parenting and retail. “It’s just too complicated,” says Mary. “We don’t want to kid anyone, we really work hard and constantly, and it would have been too difficult to bring our children to work”

Baby & Me interior wideThe shop, located in the Saltzman Village center at the southwest corner of Saltzman and Cornell, carries furniture, toys and clothing for kids from newborn to pre-teen, and maternity clothes. They also carry equipment such as strollers and selected car seats, all at prices well below the cost of new items. Merchandise is carefully screened for quality and condition.

They also carry two lines of new kids shoes – Robeez  and See Kai Run. Wooden toys and art supplies from Melissa & Doug are also for sale. These are really well-made and classic designs that aren’t widely available. They decided to add these new items to their stock partly so that consigners would have something interesting to spend their credit on, but also because they believed in the products.

They have now expanded to three stores, with a location in Hillsboro that opened five years ago, and one in Tigard that’s been open a year and a half. “Before we expanded, we were asking ourselves, ‘Does this business work because we have a good business model, or is it just because we are here in the store making it work?’” Mary explained. The other two stores are doing well, so they’re confident that they have a sound business model. They use a bookkeeping company to do payroll and other tasks. “We have to be realistic about our time capabilities,” says Mary.

Baby & Me Toy Shelf
The toy shelf provides amusement for kids while parents shop

From the beginning, both partners have been committed to being a “family first” organization and to having fun. Most of their employees are moms working part-time, and they are glad to know that family situations can be their first priority. Of course this means that they have a very loyal staff! And the happiness of the employees is reflected in the  fun atmosphere of the store, where parents and grandparents bring  their kids in for an impromptu “playgroup” while they shop.

And their bottom line is their friendship. “We both agree that there’s nobody else we’d want to be in business with,” says Mary. “Whenever we start to have a problem, we look at each other and think, ‘That’s not who we are,’ and that helps us keep things in perspective.” And although they have a professional approach to running the business, they try not to take things too seriously. After all, says Mary, “We’re just selling used kids clothes!”

Baby & Me, like many businesses these days, runs on specialized software. Resale World site licenses cost several thousand dollars, but the system lets them track every item that comes in and goes out. Color-coded pricetags are printed and attached to each item. Keeping track of the flow of merchandise is vital to their success since thousands of items are brought in each month.

Some of their customers just shop, some also bring in clothing as “consigners,” and some just consign. Each consigner is allowed to bring in two bags of clean clothing between the first and 21st of each month, and they have seasonal requirements. Mary goes through the clothes, sorting out things that will not work in the store. Consigners indicate on the self-addressed postcard they fill out whether they want to donate or pick up the items that either don’t qualify for sale, or which don’t sell after 90 days. A full explanation of their consignment policies is on their website at babyandmepdx.com

Baby & Me Old Toys
A collection of old toys is on display in the Cedar Mill store

Donated merchandise goes to the faith-based Northwest Children’s Outreach (northwestchildrensoutreach.org) which distributes it to caregivers in the area for families in need. Baby & Me is one of their major donors. About half of the consigners choose to donate unsold or unwanted items.

One of the biggest challenges that the business has faced was during and after the road construction on Cornell. The original location, next to the 7-Eleven Store, was severely affected by the lack of access into the lot. “There were times when the crews working on Saltzman and the crews working on Cornell both had the driveways blocked. It almost took us under,” Mary recalls. Even after the roadwork was done, that corner has poor access due to the median barriers. All the businesses have felt the pain.

“But we remain committed to this area. So when we realized that space was available in Saltzman Village (often referred to as the triangle center) we looked into it. We were told that the building owner asked the property management people to make it happen for us.”

The move has been a great success. Since April, they’ve been seeing customers they haven’t seen for three years, who had given up trying to get into the old location. The new store is full of light and more spacious, with better back-office storage for the “organized chaos” of bags of items waiting to be sorted.

They only recently re-joined the Cedar Mill Business Association. They hadn’t felt that the group was very relevant to their business, since there are not a lot of retailers in the area with whom they could trade information. But they’re hopeful that CMBA can provide more high-level planning and a network of information and references for businesses who might like to locate here. It’s the sort of service a city’s Business Development agency might provide, but since we don’t have a city, we may just need to do it ourselves.

Baby & Me is located at 12640 NW Cornell Road. Their phone number is 503-646-2021, and their website is babyandmepdx.com. They are open Monday-Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.






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Published monthly by Cedar Mill Advertising & Design
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
12110 NW West Rd
Portland, OR 97229