Once Upon a Child Valparaiso is the only store to have achieved both "Best Consignment Store in the Region" and "Gold Standard Award" 2014.
Gold Standard is a top standard achievement award from the Winmark Corporation who judges their stores using strict guidelines based on brand identity, operations and customer experiences separating the ordinary stores from the extraordinary ones.
Once Upon a Child Valparaiso is family-owned and operated. Son, Kevin Hutnick and his wife Holly researched the franchise when expecting their first child—wondering how people recycle their next to new baby items since they often use them for such a short time. Kevin then turned his mom, Tina, onto the idea of franchising and together they visited the Winmark headquarters.
In 2009, the Hutnicks opened Once Upon a Child Valparaiso. As the business grew, they also recruited Tina's other son, Kris, shortly after graduating from Purdue University in Lafayette. (All three of them have degrees from Purdue.)
Kevin, Tina and Kris consider Once Upon a Child to be a fun and entertaining concept, but it can be a grueling 7-day-a-week business, sifting through thousands of used items per day. Often they are dealing with delicate emotions as well, some parents may feel as though they are letting go of memories along with their children's items. The fact that each of them also works outside of the business in another role helps keep it all in perspective. Kevin works as a Realtor with the Bart Vicrey team, Tina as a registered nurse, and Kris does general carpentry work.
The entire family seems to have endless energy though. Still they know that OUAC would not be the success it is without their incredible and dedicated staff; some of whom have been with the store from the beginning. "Our customers and our wonderful staff have all been paramount to our continued growth in Valparaiso!"
Tina compares the growth of the business in terms with the expansion of her family. "We began with 2,800 square feet and one grandchild," she said. "We are now at 4,200 square feet and three grandchildren. In a few months we will have grandchild number four and hopefully a lot more space." Negotiations are underway for Once Upon a Child Valparaiso to expand into a much larger space to accommodate the beautiful inventory they continue to receive from their local community.
In an effort to branch out, Once Upon a Child Valparaiso recently participated in Chicago Street Theatre's Fashion show, "Little Black Dress Party." The delightful evening was dedicated to the theme "How to get the look for less." For instance, a dapper young boy confidently strutted across the stage in a three-piece suit that costs a mere $6.50 at Once Upon a Child and his counterpart modeled a flouncy, black sequined dress for $8.50.
Once Upon a Child specializes in high quality, gently-used equipment, and boys and girls clothing sizes from newborn to tween (up to size 16/18). They also carry a vast selection of new hair accessories, jewelry, puzzles and tutus. To meet customer requests, they now carry Hazel and Baltic healing necklaces for babies, Wubbanubs and Moby wraps. But that's hardly all of it. There's almost too much to see in one visit.
Open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., it's definitely worth a trip or two.