When second hand buy is actually first rate

Hindustan Times | ByMignonne Dsouza
Mar 02, 2014 09:12 AM IST

Great deals, trustworthy sites and people only too happy to trade are taking the stigma out of shopping for used goods, writes Mignonne Dsouza.

New mom Tanya Kapoor only wanted the best for her daughter Myra. So when she needed a stroller, the Bandra resident looked hard for the perfect one. One day, Kapoor noticed an ad for a website advertising second-hand baby gear. "I clicked on it randomly,” she says. What she saw on Precared.com was intriguing enough for her to call them up. A few days later, Kapoor was the owner of a Mothercare Ultimate Stroller for Rs 9,000 (one third of its retail price of Rs 20,000) and a Mothercare high chair for Rs 3,800 (not the retail price of Rs 8,000). "I went to Precared’s Mira Road warehouse to check out the items,” she says. "Both were in good condition. This was such a good deal!”

HT Image
HT Image

Tanya Kapoor bought this Mothercare stroller and high chair for Rs 12,800.
Tanya Kapoor bought this Mothercare stroller and high chair for Rs 12,800.

Like Kapoor, other Indians are finding second-hand items a great bargain. A news story in the Hindustan Times last month quoted an ASSOCHAM report that said the used goods market in India (including automobiles) is projected to grow from Rs 80,000 crore in 2013 to Rs 1,15,000 crore in 2015. It’s not just cars, books and electronics we’re buying used these days; we’re also browsing through someone else’s gadgets, clothes and jewellery.

Why? Because it makes sense now, more than ever before. For the first time, middle-class Indians can afford new phones, TVs,

and other goods without waiting for the old ones to completely give up.

We’re buying more stuff and we’re looking to buy more. So where do we put our old suede stilettos, treadmill, Xbox, college guitar, baby’s bassinet or old Hannah Montana books? Maids have no use for them. But several people in our own income brackets are finding them a good enough deal – so what if they’ve been used before?

The action’s happening both online and offline. Established websites like eBay and newer ones like Olx and Quikr have extensive ad campaigns to get us comfortable to the idea of selling stuff. Pop-up sales featuring ‘gently used’ items are springing up often in Mumbai.

BARGAIN PRICE: This dress from River Island and the necklace cost Karishma Kapoor Rs 3,000 in all.
BARGAIN PRICE: This dress from River Island and the necklace cost Karishma Kapoor Rs 3,000 in all.

At Fashion’s Night Out, an shopping event organised by Vogue, well-heeled fashionistas formed long lines at a Delhi mall to buy deeply discounted designer handbags donated by prominent women (the money went to charity). More of us are rifling through hip flea markets at Sunday brunch. And the lower price tag is taking the pinch out of the fact that the stuff is actually a hand-me-down.

"Shopping for pre-owned stuff is often the more affordable way to wear something unique. For others, it is the only access to designer clothing or accessories,” says Rachana Nakra of Fuffabulous.com, an initiative which gets people to donate unused clothing and pass it on to someone else. "Most people buy things if they like something and think it is value for money, even with pre-owned stuff,” says Nakra.

All for a good cause

Mumbai’s pop-up sales, especially those for used clothing, household goods, toys and stationery, often help raise money for charity. Fuffabulous’s clothing sales, the first of which happened in November 2013, sold clothes and accessories used in Tips movies and those donated by celebrities such as Sonam Kapoor and Vidya Balan, apart from pieces from the wardrobes of Nakra’s friends. A dress by Priyadarshini Rao from Vidya Balan went for Rs 4,500 and a denim Topshop dress that Sonam Kapoor donated went for Rs 3,500. "The response was fantastic and we were almost sold out in just a few hours," says Nakra. "We raised funds for In Defence of Animals and were very excited to present them with a very large sum."

Where to find the stuff
WSD sales: Welfare for Stray Dogs hosts sales of second-hand stuff, featuring books, clothes, artefacts, paintings, crockery, glassware and furniture. Check their Facebook page or follow @wsdindia on Twitter
Thrift Alley:Facebook.com/BackAlley101. The next sale will be in mid-April
Precared.com:The site trades everything from toys to strollers, high chairs and car seats
Fuffabulous:Check out Facebook.com/fuffabulous or @Fuffabulous for some fabulous deals
Books on Toast: Log on to Facebook.com/booksontoast for information of their events at which you can buy used books
A similar Mumbai initiative, Back Alley’s Thrift Shop, started by cousins Radhika Dhawan and Maya Goyel, also raises money for NGOs. Their first one-day sale, held in June 2013 at Ave 29 in Hughes Road, sold around 150 books, 500 pairs of shoes and 200 items of clothing, and raised Rs 1.5 lakh for Asha Sadan and the Jai Vakeel School For Children In Need Of Special Care. "A lot of stuff came in and we filtered everything to check that it was in good condition," explains Dhawan. Prices were kept low. "An old-school Galliano skirt and top set that had been worn twice or thrice was Rs 700, and the most expensive item was a Rs 1,200, all of which sold." At another sale, an unopened Maggpie home décor ornament went for Rs 700. Dhawan was not sure if a quirky donation, a hand painted box from Mexico labelled ‘tequila lab’, which had test tubes to drink shots in, would sell. "But it did," she recalls. "Everything sells."

Dhawan and Goyel source items from family and friends and tap others via social media. "Even people who don’t know us come and donate stuff," says Dhawan, adding that many donations are impulse buys. "The items really are in better condition than stuff at a garage sale," assures Dhawan. "In some cases, they’ve never been used at all."

Smart Shoppers

For some, second hand is first choice too. Lower Parel resident Jitendra Badgujar got his first iPhone in 2010. It came from the US via a relative who bought it on Craigslist. "It cost me Rs 21,000, as opposed to the Rs 35,000 for a new model at the time,” he recalls. The phone was in "such good condition” and gave him "such good service" that he chose to go the second-hand route in 2013 when he wanted to buy an iPhone 3GS for his wife. "My budget was Rs 10,000. I didn’t want to go in for any of the EMI schemes," says Badgujar. His second phone cost him just Rs 9,000, and he says buying used gadgets makes is a blessing beyond pricing. "With a secondhand phone, you never need to worry about dents and scratches," he says. "Also, even if you drop or lose it, you don’t get too upset."

DIAL D FOR DEAL: Jitendra Badgujar bought two iPhone 3Gs for Rs 30,000 in total
DIAL D FOR DEAL: Jitendra Badgujar bought two iPhone 3Gs for Rs 30,000 in total

Smart Sellers

If you have stuff to sell, the Net’s your best bet. Marketplaces and aggregator sites like Olx and Quikr are often the first port of call for people looking for used vehicles and electronics. But everything from vintage postage stamps and toys to hammocks are on sale. Top sellers at Olx also include mobile phones, laptops, furniture and home appliances, with emerging categories in sports goods and musical instruments.

The potential in this market prompted Tabrez Khan, to give up his sales and marketing career in 2011 and launch Precared.com. "Baby gear is a huge market. Goods are not upgraded (no one turns in a stroller to buy a better one), and stuff is used for only a couple of months, so it is still in very good condition," he explains. Khan covers all the bases. He picks up stuff personally, sterilises it at his facility in Mira Road and lists it on his site using a star rating to give customers an idea of the product’s condition.

"I’ve seen an improvement in how people perceive second-hand merchandise and have repeat customers from 80 cities," he says. "Once you make your first second-hand purchase, and are happy, you will do so again."

Own the pre-owned market

How to buy

How to sell

You can buy items both online and offline. While online stores are available 24/7, offline sales are usually advertised via Twitter and Facebook. (See Where To Find The Stuff for more info).
Declutter your home to discover stuff you no longer need. Items in good condition sell faster.
Meet the seller in a public, crowded spot to hand over the item and receive the cash. Inspect the item and make sure the accessories are included.
Figure if you want money for your stuff or donate it to raise money for charity.
Remember that sales are final.
List items on many sites, preferably with clear well-shot pictures.
Describe the product in detail and state the price you want for it. Leave room for negotiation.
List a mobile number to call.

Follow @mignonned on Twitter

From HT Brunch, March 2

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