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School uniforms simplified: Children’s World celebrates 60 years in business

The local retailer partners with area schools to provide a physical location for families to shop for school uniforms.


Tim and Cynthia Holliday
Tim and Cynthia Holliday
Photo by Ian Swaby
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Understanding school uniforms can be complicated, said Cynthia and Tim Holliday. 

There are differing requirements for the various schools, changing colors based on grades, and specific outfits for boys and girls. 

When shopping online, it becomes even more confusing, as finding the correct sizes often comes down to guesswork.

That is why the retail business they own, Children’s World Uniform Supply, has increasingly partnered with area schools to offer a physical shopping location for uniforms. 

“Everybody ordering online is ordering more than what they want,” Cynthia Holliday said. “We can even see that when they're placing the orders online, they order a couple of sizes.”

Over its long history, the business has taken many forms, and held its 60th anniversary celebration on June 8.


Sarasota institution

The store, founded by Mollie and Ronald Cardamone, has long been part of Sarasota's small business scene. 

When it first opened in 1964, it was focused on cribs and cradles, but it expanded to other areas, including suits for Sunday school. 

When the Hollidays took over the business in 2001, it was offering a handful of local school uniforms and serving as the area supplier for Boy Scouts.

“We liked the store because they had won a lot of awards,” Cynthia said. “They were very involved in the community, which is what we have always done ourselves, because we give back to the community that gives to us.”

Tim brought experience serving small businesses in the banking field, while Cynthia had worked in the salon business in a customer service role. 

Today, the store serves close to 30 schools, from southern Hillsborough County to Charlotte County, with a majority being in Sarasota and Bradenton. 

They said the partnership takes the burden away from schools of having to work with parents on uniforms, while their staff fill that role by becoming well-versed in the requirements for different school uniforms in the local area. 

“In all those things, we need our people to be able to rattle all that off off the top of their head,” Tim said.

School uniforms are set out on the store shelves.
Photo by Ian Swaby


















One-stop shop

In addition to uniforms, visitors will find school supplies, educational products, toys and games. 

"We have a place they can come in, they can try it on and they get to leave with everything. So it's a one-stop. They get to do it all,” Cynthia said.

When the couple first took over the store, it was located in Saba Plaza in downtown Sarasota, a location that now houses a Jersey Mike’s. 

They moved to their current location on Bee Ridge Road about 10 years ago, and said the expansion from 2,400 to 7,000 square feet has been a great benefit when it comes to stocking the items.

They’ve also continued to innovate with the business. One way they did so was by incorporating in-house embroidery into the offerings. 

“It became evident that our attention to detail and quality was better than any of the places we were outsourcing to, so we eventually bought more and more equipment and took all that over,” Tim said.

This meant that if they were out of a particular shirt, they could now sew one. 

“I think that's kind of a natural for us, and for the previous owners,” Tim said. “You have to morph with the times and change in retail, to be relevant.”

The staff of Children's World Uniform Supply














Another expansion includes the addition of Business World Promo Supply in the same location, which specializes in branded items for businesses. 

Highly important for the store has been the contract post office operated by the U.S. Postal Service located inside its facility, which allows online orders to be mailed into the community.

Tim said people are often surprised to find the post office there, one of the few in the immediate area.

“There's really nothing out east at all,” he said.


Community culture

Children's World has also taken its success into the broader community, working with other businesses and nonprofits, which the Hollidays said includes nationwide franchises. 

Annually, they host a match for Toys for Tots to raise awareness for the organization, which they said repeatedly results in Children's World being the No. 1 or No. 2 toy donation site in Sarasota County for the nonprofit. 

After a partnership with Girl Scouts during the Giving Challenge in 2024, they received the award for Best Business Partnership.  

The couple described the business as "Christian-owned."

"We pray in our meetings, we play Christian music, and that is a way that you can spread things to the community easily, and it changes the environment a little bit, and I think it makes people feel good," Cynthia said.

“The culture I think makes a difference, and people seek us out and want to come here and, once they're here, they’re like 'This is a good place, and that's kind of what we're all about,” Tim said.

 

author

Ian Swaby

Ian Swaby is the Sarasota neighbors writer for the Observer. Ian is a Florida State University graduate of Editing, Writing, and Media and previously worked in the publishing industry in the Cayman Islands.

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