The Real Real has found a location for its first bricks-and-mortar store on Wooster Street in New York’s SoHo, where it will unveil a two-level, 8,000-square-foot flagship in November.
The new store is part of the online luxury consignment site’s expansion into physical retail, which is being supported by a $50 million funding round that closed last month, bringing The Real Real’s total funding to $173 million.
Julie Wainwright, The Real Real’s founder and chief executive officer, said the company is using the capital to “really push bricks-and-mortar integration with our online strategy.”
A pop-up shop that operated in SoHo in December convinced Wainwright to open a permanent store. “We did $2 million in sales in 18 days, which includes items people saw in the pop-up and later bought online during the month,” Wainwright said. “We don’t expect to do that every month [at the permanent store], but we do expect the sales volume to be a nice number.
The value of the temporary store for The Real Real can’t be overstated. “We learned a lot from the pop-up,” Wainwright said. “We captured a lot of data that shows what New Yorkers buy. When we opened the pop-up, we had a slightly different product mix, so it was really informative.”
Gucci, Chanel, Hermès, Prada, Saint Laurent, Tom Ford, Valentino and Cartier are among the brands sold by The Real Real. The company operates jewelry and watch valuation centers staffed by gemologists and watch specialists in several cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas and Washington, and more locations are planned.
“New Yorkers sort of like everything,” Wainwright said, referring to brands. “The thing that surprised us at the pop-up, but shouldn’t have, is that it was easier for us to sell higher-end products there. It’s much easier to sell items that cost over $1,000 in person. We sell them on the web site everyday, but that’s not our online average order size.”
The SoHo unit will offer all of the web site’s categories, including contemporary art and furniture. Birkin handbags were popular at the pop-up, so the store will have a wall of the Hermès bags.
“We’ll do pick, pack and ship from the store,” Wainwright said. “We’ll have a coffee bar and luxury consignment office in the store with gemologists and watch experts on site. The fine-jewelry and watch category has become a very big part of our business. It’s an integral part of our strategy.”
A room in the store has been set aside for classes or discussion groups. “During the pop-up, people asked in-depth questions,” Wainwright said. “We’re going to have events that aren’t only about promoting a product, such as, ‘Why a certain designer is significant.'”
Another insight from the pop-up is that sales associates aren’t as effective as experts, which also staffed the temporary store. “Customers wanted to talk to someone who knew the history of fashion, and didn’t only say, ‘That piece looks good on you,'” Wainwright said. “Our staffing will be heavier on experts.”
The temporary shop attracted an even split between new consumers and those who had shopped The Real Real’s web site.
“We’ll have other stores in New York,” Wainwright said. “We’ll have stores downtown and uptown. We’ll roll out a few at a time and then go into rapid rollout.”