Social responsibility has become an important part of many of today’s businesses.
From TOMS, who gives a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold, to Warby Parker — a prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses brand who also uses the “buy one, give one” model — entrepreneurs are launching businesses that benefit the society at large.
When entrepreneurs build businesses with purpose they help maintain a balance between economy and ecosystems.
While giving back is the credo for some, others are doing their part by creating resale businesses to reduce unnecessary consumption.
Resale businesses are thriving
Starting a resale business that sells unwanted or unused items reduces the amount of waste we send to landfills and offers consumers affordable options. Meanwhile resellers help people escape excessive consumerism.
For aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business, resale is an attractive market; and rightly so. Studies suggest the U.S. Resale industry gross $17 billion in annual revenues.
So, if you’re thinking about starting a resale business, here are three examples of businesses that turn pre-owned goods into profit.
1. Find a new home for your luxury goods
What aspiring fashionista doesn’t want a Louis Vuitton handbag? Especially if you don’t have $2,000 to drop on one. According to thredUp, “high-quality resale is a multi-billion dollar industry and is among the fastest growing segments in retail” and it’s worth $25 billion dollars.
That’s the idea behind Trendlee. They sell pre-loved, designer handbags at much lower prices than the cost of buying them new. For example, one Louis Vuitton Alize Bag has an estimated retail price of $2,300, but sells for $920 on Trendlee. If you don’t know how to spot a fake handbag, no problem. Sites like Trendlee go to great lengths to ensure authenticity since it’s the basis of their entire business model.
2. Revitalize forgotten vintage finds
Resale remains healthy and continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of retail. Businesses like Marzilli Vintage sell antique and vintage clothing, jewelry and accessories. They found success both online and offline, by showcasing their products on Ruby Lane, the world’s largest curated marketplace for antiques, vintage collectibles, vintage fashion, fine art and jewelry. Ruby Lane attracts 1.8 million unique site visitors each month.
Finding the right antique and vintage goods takes skill, but so does finding the right marketing intermediaries (in this case, an e-commerce marketplace) to sell to a niche market.
Marzilli Vintage could have launched their own website or opened a physical shop. However, by partnering with an established online marketplace that showcases vintage resellers, they tapped into a highly qualified customer base that is searching for unique items.
3. Consider local consignment
Local consignment doesn’t show signs of slowing down. This is a good thing for the owner of La Donna Zabella, an upscale consignment shop in Bridgeton, Maine. Ann Crocket, a former retail buyer turned consignment shop owner decided to create her own job in 2015 and capitalize on the local need for luxury women’s clothing at affordable prices.
The appeal? Local consignment shops offer bootstrapped entrepreneurs a low-cost business model within a relatively profitable niche.
Starting a resale business isn’t a new or particularly innovative pathway to business success. However, its industry longevity doesn’t undermine the possibilities. Resale is a viable business model that has incredible niche appeal.
If you’re looking to launch a socially responsible business, launching a resale business provides economic value way beyond a customer’s wallet and your bottom line. In the business world, it doesn’t get any better than that.
This article has been edited.
Liesha Petrovich is the founder of Work Mobly, an online magazine helping people find freedom, happiness, and profit while working from anywhere. In her free time, she’s working on a Doctorate in Entrepreneurship. Grab a free copy of her new book Killing Rapunzel: Learning how to save yourself through determination, grit, and self-employment. Connect with @lieshapetrovich on Twitter.