ThredUp has been gaining momentum online and off — Macy’s and J.C. Penney just tapped the online thrift shop to add some resale to their stores — but that might only be the beginning.
The San Francisco-based company has raised more than $300 million and is bulking up, building infrastructure that’s intended to handle $50 billion to $100 billion worth of product, at retail value, according to Anthony Marino, president.
Last month, ThredUp formally launched its resale as a service platform, which is showing up first in 40 Macy’s doors and 30 J.C. Penney locations.
Marino said the combination of selling new and old together is a powerful one.
“When you put them together, it’s a one-plus-one-equals-three scenario,” he said.
It doesn’t hurt that younger consumers are taking to secondhand shopping like never before and traditional retailers are looking for ways to keep bulking up even as consumer preference changes.
“It turns out [secondhand is] a big market, there’s a lot of people,” Marino said. “The cool kids call it thrifting, some people just call it shopping consignment, but it’s a $24 billion market today growing to upward of $50 billion in five years. It turns out that the secondhand shopper is not someone else’s customer, it turns out they’re just about everyone’s customer. When they’re not in your store, they’re in someone else’s store buying secondhand.”
Fifty-six million women shopped secondhand in the back half of 2018, he said, noting that it was Millennials and Gen Zers driving resale higher.
ThredUp’s pitch is multifaceted, appealing to consumer’s newfound enthusiasm for sustainability, their love of a treasure-hunt shopping experience and their desire to declutter.
“Most people don’t wear about 60 percent of what’s in their closet,” Marino said. “It doesn’t fit, I don’t like it anymore, it’s out of style. There is a massive accumulation of items in people’s homes, people’s closets and in people’s lives.”
ThredUp helps shoppers clean up by sending them a bag to send in items they’re not wearing in exchange for cash or credit on the platform — or a donation to a charity.
“Most people say, ‘Dear Lord, send me a bag for me to throw all this stuff in so you can take it away and do something productive with it,’” he said. “There’s a lot of people [who] have stuff that’s really hard to get rid of that’s taking space in their closets, taking space in their minds.”
ThredUp carries 35,000 brands across 100 categories with new arrivals every second.
The company sorts those in-bound looks, photographs and prices them in what Marino described as something akin to “Willy Wonka’s clothing factory,” summing up the diverse range of styles passing through the logistics operation.
But ThredUp took pains to make the e-commerce experience smooth and orders arrive neatly folded and in tissue paper.
“We wanted to make the shopping experience indistinguishable from what it’s like to shop for new things,” Marino said. “People start to forget that it’s secondhand product, all these see is beautiful clothing at an amazing price.”