A Mom's Tale

Once upon a time, an enterprising mom saved a struggling franchise . . .
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This story appears in the November 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Three-year-old Brittany has a constant supply of playmates. That's because every day she comes to work with her mother, Lisa Pascavis, who operates a Once Upon a Child franchise in Chandler, Arizona.

Pascavis worked as an assistant manager at a Gymboree and as co-manager of a Limited Too before answering an ad seeking a manager for Once Upon a Child, a children's resale store. Within a year, her experience helped raise the then-struggling store's sales. Pascavis, 33, and husband, Mark, 38, saw its potential and bought the shop in December 1999.

Another reason Pascavis jumped on the opportunity was because of Brittany, with whom she was pregnant at the time. "It was important to be with my child during her younger years," she says. With its play area that makes kids excited to shop with their parents, Once Upon a Child was perfect. "I could be a full-time mom and a full-time business owner." Even her older children, Amanda, 12, and Austin, 10, come in occasionally to help out.

The arrangement works well for Pascavis, whose store is so popular she had to double its size. Sales, which have tripled since she bought the store, were more than $500,000 in 2001.

Children aren't the only ones enjoying themselves in the store. Pascavis credits much of its success to her team of employees, who work hard at having fun. As Pascavis puts it, "You don't want to get so serious that coming to work is no fun."

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Edition: July 2017

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