San Francisco-based online luxury brand consignment boutique, the RealReal, recently opened their first New York brick-and-mortar storefront in the city’s trendy Soho neighborhood. The company, which carries consignment high-end, luxury designer apparel, fine jewelry and art pieces; goes further to set itself apart from competitors by additionally having on staff a cadre of art curators, gemologists and “brand authenticators” who serve as experts to vouch for the authenticity of all theRealReal store merchandise.
Founded in 2011 by CEO, Julie Wainwright, the RealReal has positioned itself as an expert, trusted go-between for wealthy sellers who come to them to place their high-end belongings on consignment offered up to connoisseurs more than willing to shell out big bucks for the lovingly used luxury items. According to Wainwright, there are four buyers for every one RealReal seller and about half of the sellers end up purchasing items too–luxury brand names like Chanel, Birkin, Hermes and Rolex—names that the average consumer demographics have probably heard of only in passing. Wainwright’s novel concept has gained considerable traction with a certain demographic of consumers who are more than willing to pay for the chance to own luxury products at a slight saving–not much though, as these products generally don’t have much of a depreciation value. While the average consumer will rarely luck up on such finds at their local consignment shop, TheRealReal has made a fortune by gambling on this unique niche market–which Wainwright claims includes every demographic from millennials to baby boomers. Wainwright has astutely positioned TheRealReal as a trustworthy intermediary between high-end luxury item sellers and buyers and believes providing unassailable trust and authentication guarantees drive theRealReal’s phenomenal success. But Wainwright has also been savvy when it comes to marketing herself and the RealReal business modal to prospective investors. Her company was recently able to secure over $170 million in funding from venture capitalists to fund further expansion. The RealReal now employees about 1,500 employees, with storefronts on both US coasts and in its less than 10 years of existence; has attracted about eight million members to its online site.