NEW YORK — Eager to tap into potential consigners on Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side, The RealReal Today opens a two-level, 3,000-square-foot store and luxury consignment office at 870 Madison Avenue and 71st Street.
This will be The RealReal’s third permanent store after units in SoHo in Manhattan and Los Angeles; there are 10 luxury consignment offices, including one in each of the three stores.
“We wanted a store on the UES because we have a large client base and [want] to make it easy for them to get their products consigned,” said Michael Groffenberger, managing director of retail of the luxury pre-owned e-commerce site. “With retail from the luxury consignment office we expect this to be a high-volume location. This is a complement to an office in the SoHo store and a stand-alone luxury consignment office in Midtown. This is a full experience.”
A rogue’s gallery of hard-to-find new and rare handbags with prices that stretch above $100,000, includes an exotic alligator skin Birkin bag, $46,000; a 2017 Hermès initial bag, $30,000; a Delvaux artist-inspired bag, $4,000, and a wicker Kelly bag, $55,000.
There’s important jewelry such as a $21,000 unbranded diamond necklace, and vintage Rolex watches, but Groffenberger sent the store manager to the vault to fetch the pièce de résistance, a De Beers emerald-cut diamond necklace with a total carat weight of 69.67, priced at $350,000.
“When something like this necklace comes through the store, we have the client meet with a gemologist to ensure they understand what’s driving the value,” Groffenberger said. “We continue to find that when people meet with experts and find out what their high-value items are worth, and see what all the research the expert does, it gives them confidence.”
A selection on the ground floor consists of ready-to-wear in addition to the handbags, fine and estate jewelry, and watches. “The displays were designed by a stylist who curated the merchandise,” Groffenberger said. “We don’t have any men’s products. We curated and targeted directly to this market.
“The important thing about this space is that it dedicates a significant amount of square footage to luxury consigners,” Groffenberger said. “The luxury consignment office here is slightly larger than the one we have in SoHo.
“We’re growing our presence in New York to support the strong demand we’ve seen for both shopping and consigning since opening our SoHo store a year and a half ago,” said Julie Wainwright, chief executive officer of The RealReal. “This new format store bridges the gap between our luxury consignment offices and our flagship stores, bringing together an expanded assortment of expert services and a curated selection of luxury goods.”
The RealReal store occupies prestigious real estate; a former Celine unit designed by Peter Marino with a sinuous oak wood and concrete staircase that brings to life the architect’s idea of a lemon peel. A wood coffee table carved into an artisan-made, organically shaped flower and bouclé-linen upholstered chairs were what the store called for since “the store has such strong architectural bones,” Groffenberger said.
The second level is just as specifically designed as the ground floor. Three private meeting areas are comfortably large, feel open and airy behind green cubicles, but private at the same time. Upstairs, the decor is midcentury modern. A conference table surrounded by chairs, and with a pair of Italian leopard-covered chairs, will be used for meeting with consigners as well as programming for the community.
“We’ve extended the panels to this store,” Groffenberger said. “We’ll be doing education, and starting dialogues. We’ll also do workshops, like we do at our SoHo and Hollywood stores.”
The new store will provide services such as complimentary valuations by gemologists, horologists and authenticators of fine jewelry, watches and handbags. The RealReal for the first time is adding a new category: sneakers. There’s also consignment drop-offs for fast consigning and personal shopping appointments where stylists curate options from local and online inventory for shoppers to try on in the store. Also, there will be product viewings for high-value items such as Birkin bags, vintage Rolex watches and archival apparel.
Groffenberger said, “There are plenty other players in resale, but they’re not focused on luxury. We’re trying to serve clients where, when and how they want to shop with convenience and transparency. “
Groffenberger used jewelry as an example where the value of a product can sometimes be opaque. “You can get a free valuation and get an education of the secondary market,” he said. “It’s not a negotiation. It’s data, algorithms, and education — we’re a data-driven company.”
Consigners’ subsequent purchases are often informed by their experience with The RealReal. “It influences what they purchase in the primary market,” Groffenberger said.