By Marco della Cava: USA TODAY SAN FRANCISCO – Julie Wainwright has long been eager to be firmly associated with something other than Pets.com, the once high-flying dot-com disaster with that sock puppet mascot. After more than a decade, she may finally get her wish.
Wainwright’s burgeoning startup, The RealReal, which consigns pricey luxury goods such as Louboutin shoes and Chanel bags, has steadily been gaining cultural steam and financial security.
The RealReal’s latest bid for permanence happens Thursday, when the company expands a beta program it tested in six Neiman Marcus stores to 34 locations and becomes the ultra-chic store’s official partner in helping well-heeled customers unload their used goods.
“This is this first time a major U.S. retailer is acknowledging a real shift by high-end consumers toward value,” says Wainwright. “It gives these fantastic items a true lifecycle.”
The Neiman Marcus partnership means store personnel will advise customers that TheRealReal is available to resell their goods. When there’s interest, Wainwright’s staff of appraisers take over, collecting the items and handling the rest of the sale process.
Consignors get 60% of the selling price. That jumps to 70% once a customer hits $7,500 in sales with TheRealReal. If sellers opt to take their payouts in the form of a Neiman Marcus gift card, they receive an additional 10%.
“After seeing the increased demand for this service since its pilot program launched in February, we recognized the benefit of offering the service to our customers across the country,” says Neiman Marcus chief marketing officer Wanda Geirhart.
Wainwright’s early dot-com experience gave her the name recognition to raise capital in 2011 for a venture that sprung from her love of fashion and good deals.
So far, TheRealReal has raised $83 million, including a $40 million Series D round last April led by Industry Ventures. Wainwright adds that this year the company is looking to double sales to $200 million, and pay out an estimated $100 million to consignors. It has sold more than a million items to date.
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