Here’s to Mom: How My Mom was the Inspiration for my Multi-Million Dollar Franchise


We have all heard the saying “Mother Knows Best” and that is definitely the case with my mom, Pam Willingham. When people ask me what inspired me to start my children’s consignment event, Just Between Friends, in my living room almost 20 years ago (yikes really?) the answer is the same – my Mom. That was 1997 and I was a young stay-at-home mom in Tulsa with two young children and my husband was working as a minister. My mom was living in Fort Worth and had visited a small consignment sale in her community. The light bulb went on and she called me and suggested I try something similar to make some extra money. So I called a friend from church who was the biggest bargain hunter I knew – my former business partner Daven Tackett who is now the current owner of the original Tulsa JBF event. Daven and I set up shop in my living room using the utensil drawer as the cash drawer. We gathered 17 women to be consignors and in the end sold about $2000 in merchandise and each made $150. We were thrilled! Then people starting asking us when we were having the next sale. And the next. And then Just Between Friends was born. We started having two sales a year and it grew quickly. We franchised in 2003 and it continued to grow. But my mom’s moneysaving advice started much earlier than 1997. Pinching pennies was a necessity for all of us. In 1982, my late father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He was an oil company CFO who went from working in a successful and lucrative career to having no job and being wheelchair bound at the age of 33. They had no savings or “plan b” so my mom learned to find creative ways to save, which often included shopping secondhand. After he died, she was struggling financially due to the medical bills. So after we started the franchise system, I suggested my mom launch the JBF franchise in Fort Worth. She did just that and helped build it to be one of the most successful JBF franchises in the country. It was so successful that it allowed her to retire three years ago and enjoy life with her husband, Mike. Today my mom’s inspirational idea is helping more than 800,000 families a year in three ways: 1. Business Owners: JBF franchises provide business ownership with loads of room to expand, grow, and make it their own. JBF has several mother-daughter teams as well, that run their own community event. 2. Consignors: Twice a year, our JBF events help moms (and dads) and their families turn their unwanted items into cash, which can be a great way to supplement income. Consignors tag and price their own items and earn 60-70 percent of the sale price. 3. Shoppers: Our JBF sales offer gently used and new merchandise for families, from maternity clothes to toys to baby equipment to furniture and help them save 50 to 90% off retail. I am thrilled that JBF is now a successful business that is helping moms – and dads – across the U.S. and Canada. Happy Mother’s Day!

  • Shannon

shannon headshotShannon Wilburn is the CEO & Co-founder of Just Between Friends Franchise Systems, Inc. (JBF), North America’s leading children’s & maternity consignment event. JBF has 150 franchises in 28 states and Canada. JBF is actively seeking franchisees throughout North America. Click here to learn more.  

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