This Resale Store Is Proving Retail Is NOT Dead
I’ve been shopping consignment for as long as I’ve been able to say “Prada”. I have sites like The Real Real and Linda’s Stuff bookmarked on my computer and regularly check up on my favorite brands. Truth be told, I haven’t had one bad consignment experience in the past few years. Thanks to high-end consignment e-tailers, standards to sell products on these sites are high. Often times, shoes and bags come with dusters, dresses with tags still on, and jewelry with authentication papers.
Rebag came on the scene in 2014, promising to be a platform for buyers and sellers to experience the most luxurious previously owned handbags. Gucci, Hermes, Chanel … this site has it all. And even better than it’s merchandise? It was/is so damn easy to use for both sellers and buyers. What set this site apart from its competitors was one unique point: unlike other sites, Rebag pays you up front. No waiting time.
Four years and one brick and mortar store later, the business is continuing to expand, CEO and founder Charles Gorra tells InStyle.com. And it’s not necessarily in the most expected way.
“Since our launch in 2014, Rebag has had its roots online,” Gorra says. “However we had numerous requests by our customers to open stores.”
Similar to other originally direct to consumer brands like Everlane, Warby Parker, and Glossier, Rebag knew quickly that offering a physical presence to their clients would offer something that even their state of the art site and the mobile app did not. In 2017, they opened their first store in the heart of SoHo.
“We are big fans of Casper,” Gorra tells us when asked about other direct-to-consumer brands he admires. “We aim to disrupt the luxury resale space in the same way that they reshaped the mattress market."
Unsurprisingly, cult makeup brand Glossier is another brand they look up to. “[Emily Weiss and her team have] created a phenomenal engagement experience with their customers through their New York Showroom and San Francisco pop-up. We aim to generate a similar level of synergies between our online and offline platforms.”
Brands like Glossier, Casper, Everlane, and now, Rebag, have the opportunity to use cold, hard digital data to make decisions about their retail locations, which will ensure fiscal success; everything—from what color couch to buy to how many products to stock—can be looked at through a data lens, decreasing the risk of such an expensive endeavor as opening a retail location.
“We waited to have significant data from the SoHo store before opening a new one,” Gorra says. This week, Rebag will open their second store, this time on Madison Avenue. “We queried our system and analyzed the purchasing patterns of our online customers in the neighborhoods [the stores are in]. This drove the merchandising of every store and determined the types of styles that they each feature.”
The second brick and mortar store sits comfortably on the corner of 57th and Madison Avenue, a stone’s throw away from stores like Chanel, Fendi, and Saint Laurent. As in the SoHo store, customers can bring their pre-owned bags and received payment within one hour or less (!) for their products. And then? Well, then you can run down the street and treat yo' self.
“Clients truly value the instant gratification that our 60 minutes purchasing process provides,” Gorra says of the aptly named "Rebag Bar". “We received overwhelmingly positive feedback on our transparent pricing and upfront payment model from the sellers.”
So what’s the biggest difference between the online and offline experience? The eye-candy factor cannot be underestimated. Walking into a store anywhere in the world and seeing an entire wall of Birkin bags is a visceral experience for any serious handbag lover. But like most things in the retail world, it really goes back to the customer.
“We strive to provide the same level of seamless buying and selling experience through both our online and offline channels,” Gorra says. He has noticed spending habit differences, however. “Online customers tend to spend more time researching a particular piece before they make the purchasing decision. Offline customers tend to make more spontaneous purchasing behaviors.”
In a world where we’re constantly told “retail is dead,” Gorra is out to prove the opposite: physical stores still matter. Need proof? Visit one of Rebag’s two retail locations in New York City. You be the judge.