LOCAL FOOTBALL SCORING UPDATES PRESENTED BY THE HUNGRY HOBO:

Digital thrift stores take bargain-hunting online


Share
Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2012, 3:40 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
By Peter Delevett
Hate that old blouse? Fear not: A slew of new startups are running virtual marketplaces where folks can sell or buy secondhand treasures.

Companies like Poshmark, Twice and Threadflip are offering new twists on the yard sale and what they say is a more intimate experience than online mega-malls like eBay.

"It feels like it's become a new cultural shift, in terms of what women can do with their wardrobes," said Rosalie Yu, a Poshmark user who lives in Dublin, Calif. "It's changed how I shop."

The trend is closely tied to the rise of other "collaborative consumption" startups like RelayRides, Airbnb and TaskRabbit, which let people easily rent their cars or spare rooms and find help with odd jobs.

"I like the idea of doing something environmentally sustainable that helps people save money," said Noah Ready-Campbell, chief executive of Twice. So when he and a co-worker at Google decided to do their own startup, they saw a way to apply the collaborative concept to their own memories of childhood.

"We grew up wearing a lot of secondhand clothes," explained Ready-Campbell, 24.

His service, launched in March, sends users prepaid shipping labels with which to send in their used designer clothes. (Sorry, gents - the site, like most others in the space, currently only handles women's items, though that could change in the future.)

After vetting the items to make sure of their condition, Twice staffers make an offer and send cash on the spot. They then photograph the items and curate them into an online catalog.

Ready-Campbell said Twice typically sells clothing for 25 to 35 percent more than it pays for them, a margin he calls similar to high-end thrift shops like Crossroads Trading and Buffalo Exchange.

But with extras like two-day shipping and 24/7 customer support, "we basically can create a like-new shopping experience for the buyer," he said.

The business model isn't without risk. Twice, and a similar online marketplace called thredUP that specializes in reselling children's clothes, have to invest in warehousing operations, which can boost costs.

If that approach can be likened to that of Amazon.com, Poshmark's is more like eBay's - a centralized exchange that matches buyers to sellers and takes a cut of the action without ever actually handling the merchandise.

"With our iPhone app, users can take a photo of an item in their closet, like a handbag or dress, and convert that into a listing in less than a minute," said CEO Manish Chandra.

If a prospective buyer stumbles across that item in one of Poshmark's forums, the app's mobile messaging feature allows for quick communication between her and the seller.

And once the sale is closed on the platform, Poshmark emails the seller a shipping label, then keeps 20 percent of the price.

Chandra and others say this new generation of e-tailing is being driven by the ubiquity of mobile phones, the increasing sophistication of phone cameras and the rise of social networks like Facebook and Pinterest, which let users discover new items by trolling their extended connections.

"We've already got women who are going into their closets and putting together little boutiques, because they know other women love their tastes," said Chandra, who previously sold social shopping site Kaboodle to Hearst Corp. for a reported $30 million.

Yu said she's sold more than 60 fashion items in the past month using Poshmark; traffic picks up on Friday nights, when women are getting ready to hit the town. She also uses the platform to bargain-hunt for herself, sometimes while waiting in line. "I'm getting 50 percent off luxury goods that are in great condition," she said.

If you're not sure whether to ship your stuff to the pros or try to sell it yourself, you can always try Threadflip, which offers both methods.

Like Poshmark, the service was launched earlier this year to let users photograph their own clothing, upload the shots to a central catalog and find buyers. But while most of Threadflip's traffic moves that way, CEO Manik Singh also offers what he calls a "white-glove" service, similar to Twice, that will list items users mail in.

"If you're a tech-savvy woman, you can pull out your iPhone and start selling," he said. "But what about people who just don't have the time to do that? A lot of our clients are moms with two kids and a job."

Here are some startups that offer new online twists on thrift stores and yard sales:
Copious: A "social marketplace" for buying and selling through your extended social networking contacts. copious.com.
Threadflip: Offers both do-it-yourself and concierge-type services to let users re-sell fashion items. threadflip.com.
ThredUP: Online marketplace for second-hand children's clothing. http://www.thredup.com
Twice: Buys and photographs customer clothing, then resells on its website. liketwice.com.
Poshmark: Users upload photos of their items, then troll virtual "Posh Party" boutiques for upscale bargains. poshmark.com.

















 



Local events heading








  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.






(More History)