Making The Grade

Growing Up

After several changes of ownership in recent years, Children's Orchard Inc. shows new signs of growth under the green thumb of Walter Hamilton Jr., who leads the management team that took control of the company in 1993.

Hamilton credits the steady growth of the franchised stores, which sell used children's clothing and toys, to the remedying of several company weaknesses, including inadequate promotions.

"We're popping up in a lot more locations now," says Hamilton, "and we're following up with marketing. We decided to make that a high priority."

A lack of business know-how among some Children's Orchard franchises prompted Hamilton to offer business training to franchisees, and area that has also been addressed via Management Seminar by Mail, a publication that teaches franchisees business basics.

The lessons are paying off. Children's Orchard now has 70 franchises and four company-owned locations in the Detroit, Chicago, New England and Southern California Markets, with systemwide sales of about $11 million in 1995. Says Hamilton, "The company has become very solid." -Holly Celeste Fisk

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This article was originally published in the March 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Making The Grade.

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