When second hand buy is actually first rate
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!”
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.
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.
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."
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."
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From HT Brunch, March 2
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