Posted at 5:00 am
“The reality is that if you don’t take care of your thrift store, another company will do it for you,” says Andréanne Marquis, owner of women’s clothing boutique Womance.
With the proliferation of resale sites for second-hand items, Quebec retailers, seeing their previously worn clothing displayed on other platforms, decided to “handle” this market. Womance and Souris Mini have both set up platforms on their websites that allow their customers to buy and resell second-hand items of their own brand. This practice — which could spread — is hugely profitable for retailers, believes Myriam Brouard, a professor of marketing at the University of Ottawa. And already, organizations are concerned that their donations are being dwindled to resale.
While trying to put a hanger in her cluttered closet, the owner of clothing store Womance, headquartered in Quebec City, came up with the idea. “I said to myself, if I have this problem of having too many clothes, then customers must have it too. ” Mme Marquis wanted to give consumers the ability to organize their wardrobes before making new purchases.
“We really are in a world of overconsumption. I don’t bury my head in the sand, she admits. I contribute by creating new clothes and following fashion. »
Souris Mini, a company specializing in children’s clothing, has also made available to its customers a virtual place to buy or sell used sweaters, pants or other snowsuits in their stores.
When it comes to children’s fashion, too, Clément does not rule out embarking on adventures. “We had always thought of that,” says General Manager Jean-Philippe Clément. It can certainly be worth it. But you really need to make sure you are technologically sound and have a website that works well for it. »
In addition to the ecological or economic aspect, this promotion of second-hand clothing by the trade itself is also an opportunity for consumers to buy cheaper in these inflationary times, but also an opportunity to keep customers in their laps.
“Souris Mini is a brand that is selling well in other markets,” says Annie Bellavance, owner of the 19-store company. “We want to find these garments on our own platform. We want to bring people home. »
With this exchange place set up more than a month ago, “more people will be on our side,” emphasizes Mme Bellavance.
Stimulate sales of new clothes
In addition, the function as an intermediary in transactions should boost the sale of new collections. People who sell their children’s used clothes on the Souris Mini platform receive their payment in the form of a gift card, which the company tops up with 10%. Around 800 people have uploaded their articles so far.
On the Womance site, a customer displaying her used clothing also receives the equivalent of her sales as a gift card, which she can then use to buy new or used items in MStores.me Marquis.
The customer who really wants money sells her clothes on other platforms.
“We wanted to make sure our customers stay with us, that they find what they’re looking for,” she adds. In one year, from February 2021 to February 2022, the website attracted 2,500 people and generated 3,700 orders. Womance, which was founded seven years ago and originally sold exclusively online, now has two physical stores.
“But it is much more profitable to sell a new garment than to sell a second-hand garment,” says Andréanne Marquis.
A paid solution
For her part, however, Myriam Brouard reiterates that this management of worn clothes represents an excellent business opportunity for retailers. “It’s paying off,” she says. For them there are only advantages. They give consumers a chance to re-engage with the brand because they have to visit their website. And when customers sell, nearly 80% of retailers give them credit to buy more of their merchandise. And then, in many cases, these people buy three times the value of the loan. »
This “mercantile” side, Anne Lespérance, owner of the boutique Belle et Rebelle in Montreal, denounces them. She has set up a Facebook group — unlinked to her store’s transactions page — where consumers can sell or buy Quebec creations like those by Ève Gravel, Annie 50, Cokluch or Josiane Perron. Users who sell their clothes there do not get any discounts or gifts and then go shopping at Belle et Rebelle.
“The idea is to give those who can’t afford the opportunity to wear local creations,” says Ms.me Hope. There is no commercial side. There’s no business in that. »
decrease in donations
Also, is this market for reselling and buying second-hand clothes likely to reduce the donation bags that citizens give to organizations that depend on them?
“Of course, once people see that they can make money off certain pieces, they might be less likely to bag them up to donate to charities,” replies M.me Fog.
“For us, the fact that people are reselling their clothes online is a problem,” admits Éric St-Arnaud, general manager of Renaissance. “If you’re a student, a single parent, or just lost your job, you might get some money by reselling your items instead of giving them away. »
At the moment, however, Mr St-Arnaud, whose organization sells second-hand items at low prices while facilitating the social reintegration of many people wishing to return to the labor market, has not yet noticed a drop in donations. Last year, 1.5 million people donated 27,000 tons. Right now, with the moving season, the organization is having “its own Christmas”.
“But when everyone starts selling online, what’s left for those in need? “, he worries.