Female entrepreneurship is booming in America. The number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. continues to climb and is now estimated to have surpassed 9.4 million enterprises.
The American Express 2015 State of Women Owned Businesses Report shows that women-owned small businesses are on the rise, with around 30 percent of all small businesses owned by women in 2015.
However, that’s nothing compared to what’s going on in the $12 billion resale industry.
NTY Franchise Company, one of the fastest growing developers of resale brands in America, recently announced that of its four franchised brands, a whopping 67 percent of its franchisees are female. With trendsetting brands such as women’s upscale resale franchise Clothes Mentor and recently acquired children’s resale store Children’s Orchard, NTY Franchise Company executives are optimistic that those trends will continue.
“Without a doubt, women have become the driving force of our franchise growth,” said Chief Operating Officer Chad Olson. “I think there are a lot of things to like about resale, and many of them are particularly important to women.”
Kate Paynter and her mother, Becky Finger, have led the resale revolution in Cincinnati for decades, with several resale franchise brands including Clothes Mentor. Paynter says their resale franchises buy more than $10 million worth of gently used items from local sellers annually, all while supporting charitable causes dear to her and her mom.
“It’s been a dream of ours to serve in this community,” Paynter said. “Along with putting dollars in the pockets of other Cincinnati women, we’ve been able to support local charities like March of Dimes, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Pink Ribbon Girls. All while doing what we love!”
Suzanne Simpson, another pioneer in the resale industry, says she’s been able to pay local women more than $4.6 million in the past few years with her resale brands like Clothes Mentor in Ocoee, Florida. Like Paynter and her mom, Simpson enjoys putting more money in local women’s pockets while also donating to One Heart for Women and Children, a local charity that provides the necessary resources for families as they transition through and overcome varying hardships of daily living in the Central Florida area.
“It’s been a true blessing to do what we do here,” Simpson said. “When we succeed, our community succeeds. We help local families put some extra money in their pockets when we buy their gently used items, plus we get to support great charities like One Heart for Women and Children. I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
For Clothes Mentor franchisee Christine Ilvedson, the regular interaction with customers-turned-sellers has made her life as an entrepreneur more enjoyable. Though she operates in the small market of Fargo, North Dakota, her Clothes Mentor is one of the top revenue generators in the entire NTY Franchise system. She has spent more than $2 million purchasing gently used items from women in Fargo in the past five years.
“I’m living my dream,” Ilvedson said. “I spend my day interacting with customers who engage with us so often that we’ve become friends. I’m able to provide them with some money for the great stuff they bring in to sell, then helping them look great at a fraction of what they would pay at retail.”
Whether the resale brand focuses on apparel, children’s items, household goods or electronic devices, female entrepreneurs are flocking to resale opportunities for several reasons.
It’s environmentally and community friendly: A recent story in the LA Times focused on the growing body of social science indicating that “women consistently (highly) rank values strongly linked to environmental concern — things such as altruism, personal responsibility and empathy.” Resale stores keep unwanted items out of landfills and extend their use by offering them to new customers. Further, resale stores in the NTY Franchise Company system offer their goods for as much as 70 percent less than retail price, making it easier for people to get the items they love without straining the family budget.
Greater emotional connection with customers: Unlike retail stores focused exclusively on selling items, resale stores feature twice as many engagement opportunities, thanks to their two-way commerce model. Store owners develop more meaningful relationships with customers that make regular visits to buy and sell items and apparel.
Shopping is half the job: A 2013 survey of more than 2,000 people found that men got bored with shopping in just 26 minutes while women could easily last for two hours. In a job where 50 percent of your interactions with customers involving shopping their used goods, women are more likely to not just survive the daily shopping task, but enjoy it.
Founded in 2006 by resale godfather Ron Olson, NTY Franchise Company features five brands, all with a different focus: Clothes Mentor, Children’s Orchard, Device Pitstop, New Uses and NTY Clothing Exchange. The brands are all resale-based and cover women’s designer fashions, children’s apparel and accessories, furniture and household goods, electronic sales and repair, and clothing for teens and young adults.
For more information, visit www.ntyfranchise.com