When most people think of second-hand clothing shops, they think of cheap thrift stores with donated clothes. While some thrift store employees see designer items come through, most donated garments usually come from department stores. However, selling second-hand designer items is a growing trend. The RealReal is an innovate consignment startup that sells luxury second-hand clothes. Although it operated only online before, it recently opened its doors in the trendy SoHo neighborhood in New York City. As an internet business, it has rivals such as Heroine, Grailed and others. Luxury consignment shops have created an addictive hobby for fashionistas who enjoy good bargains. For such individuals, finding a good deal on a piece of luxury clothing that fits often feels like a personal victory. Many shoppers who are familiar with RealReal visit the store daily or weekly to browse the new arrivals.
The RealReal Difference
The RealReal was founded by Julie Wainwright in 2011. She started her career in the tech industry in the 1990s and worked as the CEO of Pets.com for several years. As someone with decades of internet merchandising experience, she quickly helped RealReal gain popularity. Courtney Applebaum designed the company’s first physical store. It also has six valuation offices in major cities across the United States. RealReal employs more than 800 people today, and its founder hopes to increase that number by opening more stores throughout the United States. The SoHo location opened after a successful pop-up store venture in New York City. With a current focus on brand awareness, the company is spreading the word about its fantastic deals.
When people want to sell items on consignment at RealReal, there are comfortable couches for them to sit on while they await their appraisal results. Guests can also wait downstairs at the coffee bar or look at the Fox Fodder Farm flowers at the front. The business offers classes and events from time to time, and attendees can learn important tips such as how to spot fake designer merchandise. One unique promise that RealReal offers its customers is an authenticity guarantee for each item. To uphold this quality standard, a staff member from RealReal manually inspects and verifies each piece of luxury merchandise. This promise leaves no room for error, and all items are carefully researched, appraised and checked twice to ensure an accurate value and authenticity.
The middle of the store has a curated space, which is collaboratively maintained. Visitors can view featured items in the space. There are large hidden console cabinets that are filled with slide-out racks of clothing. This design gives the store a more spacious look but maximizes its storage potential. One shopper described the slide-out racks full of unique clothes as incredibly erotic. Another shopper recounted her childhood experiences with her mother in thrift stores. She said that the conversations were nice until she and her mother inevitably argued about what to buy. The arguments were usually about their opposing fitting predictions in relation to size tags.
That experience highlights today’s common size dilemma, which is due to designers’ measurement differences and vanity sizing. While one garment may have a tag that says size 10, another garment with similar measurements may have a tag that says size zero. RealReal arranges clothes based on measurements and uses general categories such as large, medium and small to group the clothes. However, some size labels may seem wrong to shoppers. For example, a shirt that is supposed to fit loosely may look large. Although it may be grouped with large shirts, the intended fit may be ideal on someone with a small frame.
How Shopping At RealReal Works
If someone visits the store and picks up an item, an employee scans it. The scanning system works with the online inventory system, which means that any scanned item is temporarily unavailable on the site. If the customer puts the item back, it becomes available online again. When a customer buys something online, an employee immediately picks up the item to remove it from the floor. For customers who love the thrill of finding a good bargain, the idea that an item could be gone at any second adds to the excitement of shopping at RealReal.
One shopper said that her visit to the store gave her a better idea of garment conditions. She liked being able to look at clothes, feel them and try them on. The shopper said that the merchandise photos on the site were flattering but masked some of the wear on the fabric of certain items. However, most shoppers know that any purchased item may have been worn once or many times. While certain items in the store have price tags higher than $1,200, there are plenty of items that cost less than $300. The pricing gap gives many shoppers an added feeling of urgency to purchase the low-cost treasures.