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What Have We Learned After 30 Years in the Resale Retail Industry?

Since 1988, Winmark has been part of the retail industry, specializing in the resale segment. Our journey began with the acquisition of Play It Again Sports® and has continued with our most recent addition of Style Encore® in 2013.

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We’ve pioneered the “ultra-high-value” retailing niche – selling high-quality used products alongside new goods in a traditional retail store format. We’ve seen resale grow from fringe to high fashion; from rarity to a staple of the community. We’ve seen shoppers realize the value of quality used products and make an effort to support local sustainable businesses.

Here are some of the key takeaways we’ve uncovered over the past three decades in business.

Resale Has Gone Mainstream

For a long time, there was a stigma attached to wearing previously used clothing, and the mass production of goods, including apparel, gave consumers the impression that clothing was disposable. Eventually, an increasing number of people sought out “vintage” finds in thrift stores, and companies realized there was a significant business opportunity in resale.

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Today, the clothing resale market is growing 21 times faster than its traditional retail counterpart and shows no signs of slowing down. Resale shops like Once Upon A Child®, Plato’s Closet® and Style Encore have spread across the U.S., cultivating a reputation for on-trend fashion, unique customer experience and substantial discounts – especially when compared to the original retail prices shoppers would find at brand-name stores.

The newest generations of shoppers also show strong interest in supporting brands that promote sustainability and recycling, further surging the popularity of resale.

Sustainability and Profitability Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

We’ve made a concerted effort to reinforce business practices that have a positive impact on the environment and local communities.

Instead of throwing clothing, toys or equipment away only to have them end up in landfills or an incinerator, customers are able to bring their quality used items into any of our resale stores to receive cash on the spot. And while they’re selling their items, they have the opportunity to purchase the latest fashions, music gear and sports equipment at a reduced cost – many times up to 70-90 percent off – compared to the retail price tag.

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Franchisees and their employees establish loyal customers following a consistent stream of new inventory choices each week. Customers quickly become brand fanatics and extremely loyal, either looking for great savings on a product or a place to sell their quality used items.

Being able to rely on customers to act as suppliers also helps franchisees reduce operational risk. For example, global supply chains in the apparel industry are intricately interwoven. Rarely is the entire clothing manufacturing cycle conducted within one area. Cotton is grown in one country, shipped to another to become thread or yarn and garments are assembled in an entirely different area. Disruption in one part of the process can have global implications.

Since Winmark franchise owners are able to leverage their customers as suppliers, the impact of disruptions to the textile supply chain is small compared to traditional retailers. In addition, when costs rise at traditional apparel retailers, consumers are more inclined to seek out stores that offer them the same quality of clothing at a reduced cost.

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The widespread adoption of resale businesses on the part of consumers and franchisees alike has helped us grow to more than 1,250 locations across the U.S. and Canada and amass more than $1.2 billion in annual system-wide sales as of 2019.

Omnichannel Retail is Now an Expectation

When we first started in the retail space, ecommerce as we know it today didn’t exist. Amazon launched in 1995 and helped usher in a new era of retail where customers discovered a new way to shop and new level of convenience.

Today, ecommerce makes up 16 percent of retail sales, but the value of an ecommerce strategy isn’t solely transactional. Consumers use online channels to find specific products, compare prices, check reviews and find out where they can get the product as conveniently and affordably as possible.

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When we decided to invest in ecommerce, we started with Music Go Round®. Once we saw the success that brand had created, we followed with Play It Again Sports. Like Music Go Round, Play It Again Sports has ecommerce-friendly products that can easily be shipped and sold at a price point that provides a return on investment for franchisees and a great value for our customers. We launched an ecommerce platform with Style Encore in the spring of 2020 for the same reasons.

For any resale business concept, it can be daunting to launch an ecommerce storefront. However, we have been deliberate and diligent in developing a strategic approach to online shopping and successfully entering the ecommerce space in a way that is both efficient for the customer and the franchisee, but also adds another avenue of profitability for the individual store.

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Investing in ecommerce means having a full understanding of both the profitability and loss potential of products you’re selling and buying. It’s equally important to constantly monitor and optimize your omnichannel strategy so your customers have a seamless online and in-store shopping experience.

Why We Continue to Believe in Resale

Resale businesses provide consumers the opportunity to find unique products that fit their needs and styles while also seeing their used items as valuable goods. And, in turn, resale stores provide customers with the satisfaction of knowing they’re making a positive impact on the environment.

Are you ready to become part of the rapidly growing resale industry? Contact us today to learn more about franchising with Winmark brands.