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Bluefly has so far eschewed the private-sale format, but on June 8 will hold its first invitation-only, limited-time sale. The goods will be estate jewelry from Tiffany, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari and Cartier. Prices will be in the thousands, so Bluefly is pulling out all the customer service stops with a dedicated sales person for each item who will complete each order over the phone; a full-refund policy (albeit with a shorter return-time window), and free shipping.
This story first appeared in the June 2, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Vintage and estate is just a wonderful match for consumers today who care about important brands but don’t want to feel guilty about making a purchase,” said Bluefly president and chief executive Melissa Payner.
Prices are about 20 percent less than new. For example, an estate Cartier Love Bracelet will cost $3,080 rather than $3,850 at regular retail.
It is not unusual for estate jewelry to sell for more of a discount. A quick check of eBay showed what appeared to be the same bracelet available for the “Buy it now!” price of $2,850.
But the goods are authentic and not easy to find for Bluefly customers living outside big cities, said Payner. About 100 items, all different, will be in the sale. The move into luxury is new for the retailer. Although Bluefly once sold an $8,000 purse, more typically its high-end designer items range from about $700 to $3,500, said Payner.
Later in the month, the supplier of the pieces, estate jewelry wholesaler Circa, will unveil a buying service, called Circa at Bluefly, on the Bluefly site. Shoppers can make an appointment or overnight their jewelry to receive an offer. (Circa buys everything except costume jewelry.) Customers can take cash or slightly more in trade for Bluefly merchandise.
Hopefully the partnership “will bring new customers to both companies,” said Circa chief executive officer Chris Del Gatto.
Bluefly and Circa plan to hold regular jewelry sales in the future, but Bluefly has no plans to branch into private sales for other types of merchandise, said Payner.
Bluefly will send out invitations to the sale via e-mail to customers who have purchased designer items in the past, and each of them can invite two friends. But anyone can get an invitation by e-mailing or calling Bluefly customer service.
Circa is based in New York City but has buying offices all over the country and about 50 employees.
The next sale might feature the moderns David Yurman, Judith Ripka and John Hardy, said Del Gatto.