The Realreal

The RealReal today unveiled an 8,000-square-foot unit at 253 Post Street in San Francisco; the space was formerly Hermès’ Union Square flagship. The two-level store with entrances on Post Street and Maiden Lane is filled with high-tech bells and whistles such as RFID-enabled electronic smart trays that offer detailed descriptions of watches and jewelry, along with the condition of objects.

The store offers women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, shoes, handbags and accessories, fine jewelry, watches, beauty, home and art. Features include a handbag vault, men’s sneaker wall, men’s and women’s streetwear, and edits of luxury brands such as Gucci. The store has a luxury consignment office and CaféCafé with outdoor seating on the first block of Maiden Lane during the street’s foot traffic-only hours of 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Consumers can browse the store’s full inventory from The RealReal’s mobile app and request items using iPads found in fitting rooms and other parts of the store. “We’re a size-constrained, single sku business,” said Mike Groffenberger, head of retail. “Customers want discoverability. You can come in and try on unique items and get items quickly.”

Top women’s ready-to-wear brands are expected to be Prada and Gucci. Based on online sales, popular handbag brands include Celine, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and Bottega Veneta, while Valentino, Gucci, Christian Louboutin, Celine, Bottega and The Row are poised to lead in shoes.

The store is leaning into streetwear for Millennial customers, while male shoppers in San Francisco are looking to invest in luxury, quality fabrics, and timeless basics from Tom Ford, Brunello Cucinelli, Hermès and Loro Piana.

“We like to push innovation and take our stores to the next level. This was a good opportunity to do that because [our headquarters is here],” Groffenberger said. “We can launch something and measure its success and understand its impact on the overall store experience. We think we’ve got a good template to move beyond San Francisco.”

A repairs service is available to extend the life of handbags, shoes, jewelry and watches, and the store offers fittings, alterations and tailoring services.

Birkin and Kelly bags at the San Francisco store. 

The RealReal is moving experts such as gemologists and watchmakers out of offices and onto the sales floor, where they can answer questions and provide guidance. “What we’re doing is expanding with more experts than we’ve had in the past,” Groffenberger said. “Before, you may not have had an opportunity to talk to a gemologist. Now we can get more experts in front of more people.”

“The Bay Area actually was a latent growth market for us,” said Julie Wainwright, chief executive officer of The RealReal. “We’re seeing an acceleration of growth in the Bay Area, and we expect that to really go even further. But, having said that, the regions are all growing. The Bay Area sort of surprised us. Its growth has been accelerating in the last six months.

“Our stores have turned out to be an interesting way for us to get both new buyers and consignors,” Wainwright added. “Even SoHo [in Manhattan] in its third year is still attracting a very large percentage of new customers. We still think [we’ll open] about two stores a year for the next foreseeable future. We’re expecting a great performance out of San Francisco.”

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