Just Between Friends

VIRGINIA

Susan Gill, a software engineer, purchased her first Just Between Friends franchise in 2008 to earn some additional income while keeping her full-time job.
Source: Just Between Friends
Susan Gill, a software engineer, purchased her first Just Between Friends franchise in 2008 to earn some additional income while keeping her full-time job.
Description: Maternity and children’s clothing consignment sales events
Owners: Steve and Susan Gill
Years in business: 8
No. of franchises owned: 2
Start-up costs: $27,000 to $39,000; $20,000
Franchisor fees: Royalties 2% to 3%, depending on sales
2015 revenue, 2016 projection: $412,000; $600,000
2016 projected annual growth rate: 68%

When Susan Gill, a software engineer, purchased her first Just Between Friends franchise in 2008, she had young children and the need to make additional income while keeping her full-time job. The JBF model enables franchisees to hold pop-up consignment sales events at local venues for maternity and children's clothing and kids toys at least twice a year. The franchisee makes about 30 percent of every item sold, and consignors make the rest, earning money from items they no longer need or use. If their items aren't sold, they have the option to either pick them up or donate them to local charities. Gill said her franchise donates the items to Northern Virginia Family Services, a charity that helps families in need.

Additional franchisee resources

Gill holds two events a year — in the spring and fall — in nearby sports complexes or other large venues in her franchise area of Loudoun, Virginia, located in the northern part of the state. She and her husband recently purchased another Just Between Friends franchise in nearby Prince William County, Virginia, and will hold twice-yearly events there as well. She says most of her sales attract more than 500 consignors and about 4,000 shoppers during the two days she holds them, typically a Saturday and Sunday.

The ability to make money, set her own schedule — she works about an hour in the morning before leaving for the office and then a few hours in the evening in addition to the days of the sales events — and be of service to the community were important elements in choosing JBF, Gill said. "I wanted a business that I could build according to my personality and also my pace," she added.

The JBF franchise was started in 1997 by two moms in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who wanted to save money on their kids' clothes but dress them nicely. Today there are franchises in nearly 30 states and in Canada. Gill said the parent company has been supportive since the beginning, starting with a one-week training session that explained every aspect of the business, including the proprietary software that allows consignors to log in all their items and print out price tags right from their home computers. During her sales events, Gill said the franchisor makes available 24/7 their IT experts to help franchisees with website or credit card–processing issues.

The challenge of growing the business and maintaining some degree of work/life balance is always a struggle, she said. That's why she would recommend to any new potential franchisee to look for a business "that inspires you and aligns with your life goals and beliefs. It should be something you feel passionate about, not just a means to pay for living costs. A franchise gives you a proven starting point."

"I wanted a business that I could build according to my personality and also my pace." -Susan Gill

Make It

Latest Special Reports

  • Financial advisors stress that now is the time for investors to get serious about year-end financial planning checkup.

  • The Edge explores the limitless potential of innovation.

  • senior couple on beach

    A fixed-income strategy is key for investors who are retired or are approaching retirement. This special report details the range of tools and strategies used to manage a fixed income portfolio.