Wills Relocates, Adds To Children's Business
By CASEY MURPHY
Shelby Wills was planning on holding a garage sale at her house when she stumbled on a new business venture.
Ms. Wills, 40, was looking for clothing racks on Craigslist when she found that A Little Behind, a children's consignment shop in Tyler, was for sale. She knew the owner, Camela Walters, and she enjoyed looking for finds there for her 10-year-old daughter Sarah.
A Little Behind first opened as a diaper store and over the years morphed into consignment.
"I've always shopped it," Ms. Wills said of the store. "I've shopped at that particular store for years."
Ms. Wills, who grew up in Tyler and graduated from Robert E. Lee High School, was working for Lufkin Property Management when she decided to follow her dreams of owning a business.
"I bought it and it all came from having a garage sale," she said.
In October 2010 Ms. Wills bought the 10-year-old business when it was in the Green Acres Shopping Center. In June she relocated the store to the Highlands Center on Troup Highway. Finding the new spot also happened by accident, she said.
Smith County Sheriff Candidate Chris Green's campaigns headquarters were in the spot, and she moved in after he moved next door. She said she will take over the next-door spot as well after the runoff election. The expansion should start in early August and be done by the end of August, and will give her about 500 square feet more than she had at Green Acres Shopping Center.
The extra space will allow her to showcase old furniture she paints and sells and to add a section of used boys' sports equipment, such as baseball pants and cleats. She also plans to sublease three, 8-by-10-foot sections for people to sell custom children's clothing and/or other children's items.
A Little Behind offers boys and girls clothing, from newborns to teenager's size 16; baby gear like car seats, monitors and swings; shoes; hair accessories; toys and books.
Ms. Wills buys some of the items she sells and takes consignments from about 300 people, she said. She also does trades, giving instant store credit for boxes of clothes customers bring in - that is one of the things she believes sets her apart from other children's consignment stores.
She said her items go for about half the price of what they would cost new. She also offers layaway paying. Ms. Wills will start taking fall clothing on Wednesday, she said.
Ms. Wills and Stacie Walker "revive" old furniture with fresh paint. She sells furniture she has found herself and customers can bring in their own for a new look. She started the craft by painting an old desk for her daughter's room and found it therapeutic. The hobby has turned into part of her business.
She also has a woman that can do custom embroidery for her customers.
Ms. Wills runs the store, with some help from her mother and a neighbor who works part-time.
When she is not manning the store, she spends her time painting furniture. She finds a lot of the furniture at estate and garage sales while some is found by others. While she styles most of her furniture for children's rooms, people can also pick out their own colors.
Ms. Wills said she will stay open during renovations, which will be done a section at a time and mostly during after business hours and on weekends. She is closed on Sundays and Mondays now but said she may expand her hours to include Mondays after the renovations are complete. She plans to have a grand opening and ribbon cutting celebration when she is settled into her new digs.
"The traffic has improved greatly (since the move)," she said. "It's easier to get in and out of and the parking is better."
She said it's also helpful to be in the same shopping center as Adventure Cuts, a children's salon, and by Designer Consignment, which sells furniture and adult clothes, because they share a lot of the same customers.
Ms. Wills said she plans to hold a tent sale along with Designer Consignment for the Tax Free Holiday weekend.