Entrepreneur

Military spouse fills void in community by venturing into retail

Established in 2019, Twice Upon a Time consignment and gift shop is owned by Susan Christie, a military spouse of 10 years. Located in Cobble Hill, B.C., Christie opened the store shortly after her father passed away.

“I talked to my mom about how our little town could really use a kid’s consignment store. There are always posts on Facebook saying, ‘I just moved to town, where’s the consignment store?’,” she explained.

Established in 2019, Twice Upon a Time consignment and gift shop is owned by Susan Christie, a military spouse of 10 years. Located in Duncan, B.C.

Filling Void in Community

Christie mentioned that many people are uncomfortable with driving on the highway and don’t want to go all the way into the main city, Victoria, B.C., so she reached out to the public looking for secondhand clothing to open a kid’s consignment store in the community. Within weeks she had over two thousand pieces of clothing.

Primarily the store has items for kids. However, in the store, people can find teenager sizes and maternity clothing. In addition, she has homemade items from local vendors, whether that’s for infants or any age, and brand-new retail toys in stock.

One of the brand-new best-selling items that people come into the store for is muddy buddies.

“They are always popular, especially here because it’s rainy season, and during COVID, when the schools reopened for us, there were more outdoor classes happening. Everybody actually sold out.”

Jan & Jul Grow with me bucket hats are available at Christie’s store.

Donates Unsold Items to Charities

Twice Upon a Time is not a franchise, no fees are going anywhere else, and Christie offers donations. Specifically, she donates any unsold items to local charities.

Twice Upon a Time consignment and gift shop is owned by Susan Christie.

She elaborated, “I have an account for the Cowichan Valley Woman Against Violence Society. That’s women that have to escape abusive situations, and that came up a lot during COVID, both with military families and civilian families. So, I reached out to the Cowichan Valley Woman Against Violence Society, which is the one local to us.”

Christie explains people can donate towards the society when they make a purchase or if somebody wants to bring in some consigned clothing. Although she is not so concerned about collecting the money herself, customers can ask that the consignment money, which is 40 per cent of the sale, go towards the Cowichan Valley Woman Against Violence.

Christie also offers a program for school Parental Advisory Councils (PACs).

“If people want to forfeit their 40 per cent consignment, they can put it onto a school PAC account, and then the school PAC will collect 40 per cent of the sales,” she mentioned.

Preemie sleepers.

Finding Perfect Location

In the first six months of opening, Christie moved shop three times. One of those times being during the lockdown period. A local tattoo shop had to shut down in the middle of the lockdown, so she took the spot.

“We only shut down once here during COVID-19. We were fortunate enough for that. We were only in lockdown for two months, but in those two months, I managed to offer personal shopping and delivery just to stay in business,” Christie noted.

The store opened back up near the end of May of 2020, where Christie got a fresh start in her new space. She says business has still been slow on and off, but it’s not due to the hesitation.

“It’s hard to say if COVID is the reason or not. I found that people were only buying what they needed. So rather than saying, ‘these are great deals. Your prices are so great. I’m going to buy a whole wardrobe,’ it turned into I’m only going to buy what I need this month,” she explained.

Twice Upon a Time’s new location. The store opened back up near the end of May of 2020, where Christie got a fresh start in her new space. She says business has still been slow on and off.

Inspired by Single Mom

When opening the store, she said a single mom inspired her, “I had a regular consignment store that I visited, and the owner was a single mom with a little girl, and the little girl always worked in there, and I was so inspired. I remember having many conversations with her saying, ‘why didn’t I think of this? How do you do it?’. I would sit there sometimes for hours chit-chatting with her about how she did it.”

Christie mentioned that she has always wanted to run a business outside of her own home and is proud of what she has accomplished.

“I’m at the point now where I’m ready to let go of some of the responsibilities onto somebody else so I can be more the owner and behind the scenes, and hopefully have two employees in a year from now.”

Follow Christie and her store on Facebook here.

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Julia Lennips

Julia is a journalist who is an avid reader and an artist. She is living in North Bay, ON pursing her passion for reporting.

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