Brick & Mortar vs. The Web: Resale Experts Face Off

  Sell, consign, donate. This trio can only mean one thing for the fashion-obsessed: spring closet cleaning time. Just recently, we ran down top options in all categories here in Dallas, but the article prompted as many questions as answers in the realm of resale. While many clothing hoarders grasp at a semi-satisfying return on their investments, new options may disrupt perennial habits.     While hauling boxes, bags, and even trunks full of clothing back and forth across town used to be the norm this time of year, the proliferation of online consignment shops and auction apps such as Poshmark threaten to punt brick and mortar options into the past. But do these newcomers truly offer advantages, or just gimmicky alternatives? Today we’ll take a closer look. In the battle between web versus storefront consignment and resale, we tapped local experts to weigh in on which method is best for the consumer and realistically here to stay.     Dallas business owner Kelsey McLain founded her consignment company ShopMieux in 2013, after selling her clothes on eBay to pay her way through college. The young entrepreneur boasts experience in both of today’s avenues of discussion, owing to ShopMieux’s dual presence in a brick and mortar location and online. While outlining several pros and cons to the two options, McLain emphasizes her full-service focus on catering to the busy woman in ways beyond the capability of an app. “Selling your clothes on platforms like Poshmark or eBay can be great, if you have the patience for it,” the ShopMieux owner notes. Via Poshmark, users upload photos of clothing items directly into an app on their phone that operates as a virtual store for their unwanted items. “Listing one item can take up to 15 minutes,” McLain clarifies. “You’re responsible for your own customer service, your own marketing, and your own packaging and shipping. With ShopMieux’s concierge-style buying service, we do all of the hard work for our customers. They request a pre-paid wardrobe bag, fill it up, and drop it off at their local post office or request a free in-home pickup. Customers receive a cash offer for their items in a week.” To McLain and her team, having both a physical and online presence is an advantage to both resellers and shoppers, seemingly besting the app on all fronts. However, from eBay luxury consignment seller Mindy Loll of SavoirLuxe, we hear a new perspective on the story. As a top contender in the luxury consignment business since 2008, Loll sells high-end pieces to celebrity clientele, in addition to working with society’s most elite.     “Here’s how I look at it,” asserts Loll. “Apple TV, Hulu, and Netflix are to Blockbuster as online consignment is to traditional brick and mortar consignment stores.” While giving a nod to the instant gratification of being able to touch, feel, and try on items in person, Loll notes that, in terms of luxury items, online auctions such as through eBay-based SavoirLuxe are the best way to maximize returns. “One very common complaint that I hear from my clients regarding brick and mortar stores is that pieces end up being cycled through, or placed in the back stockroom, to be pulled out later,” Loll continues. “The problem is, that often times those pieces are forgotten. Consignors are often unaware of how their pieces are doing until they sell, which could be months or even years later. With eBay, and specifically through SaviorLuxe, consignors can check on the progress of their pieces at any time.” In addition to offering sellers instant, mobile info on their items for sale, Loll prides herself and her company on maintaining the authenticity of goods. She recognizes that this goal may often be harder for other companies to achieve. “Poshmark, for example, while a great idea, still has some growing to do, particularly when it comes to the upper echelon of luxury fashion. They give the fun vibe of being at a girlfriend swap party, but it’s not a place I would want to sell my $10,000 Hermès Birkin bag,” Loll concludes. So, after delving deeper into buzz-worthy apps, auctions, and hybrid operations, we still wonder, is there room in the modern resale market for traditional brick-and-mortars?     For thirty years, Clothes Circuit has been one of the top consignment locations in the DFW Metroplex. While recognizing the growth of online resale sites and virtual apps, owner Irene Mylan (pictured above) knows that nothing beats being able to touch and feel a potential purchase in real life. She gives insight into why Clothes Circuit has continued to thrive in the industry through decades of change. “With our willingness to display clients’ clothing for them all season, and pay them for every last item that sells, we have already differentiated ourselves from other consignment operations,” Mylan explains. “I would think that, while some people revel in the opportunity to sell their own things, it would be seen as a hassle for our clients who deliver 15 to 20 pieces at a time. Between the photographing, creating an appealing description, and mailing the item once it’s sold, it’s more than many folks want to undertake.” Linda Ambrose, marketing director of Clothes Circuit adds, “To me, the [brick and mortar] and online channels enhance each other. Many of our customers are simply too busy to deal with an online shopping platform. We have many customers who have tried various sites, but were unhappy with their pricing and service. For the time and value versus money earned, we are a sure thing!” While the debate will surely continue as to whether do-it-yourself online versus brick and mortar consignments are best, we have observed that, for the woman on the go, both have their advantages. Some sellers need a full-service, hands-off operation, while others prefer 100% personal oversight of their sales. When purchasing, many shoppers seek the comfort of inspecting items, as their counterparts enjoy the ease of one-click purchasing in the comfort of their homes. With so many voids to fill and lifestyles to cater to, in the realm of resale we’ll just say to each his or her own.   All images via individual retailers.    

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