The resale space is heating up fast but there is still plenty of space for retailers to establish their own niche. Case in point: Rebelstork, a used baby gear marketplace that has operated in Canada for several years and recently entered the U.S. The company was founded to simultaneously fulfill a consumer need and do good in the world by giving a second chance to traditionally short-lived baby gear, and it handles everything from pickups to confirming the quality of items prior to selling.
“I came up with the idea when I was on maternity leave with my first,” said Emily Hosie, Founder and CEO of Rebelstork in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “I have a four-year-old and I have a one-and-a-half-year-old, and I saw the changes in the industry regarding resale in apparel, handbags, accessories, sneakers and home furnishing, but the baby industry was a little bit dated. There wasn’t an easy, hassle-free and safe way for parents to buy and sell their nice baby gear. Then on the other side the baby gear industry is very wasteful, and there’s a lot of items ending up in landfills.”
Hosie noted that baby gear is particularly suited to resale for three primary reasons:
- Baby gear is expensive: Items designed for babies tend to be both expensive and durable, which makes used products perfect candidates for resale once they are no longer needed, and sharpens their appeal to parents looking to save some money;
- Young children grow fast: Babies and toddlers can grow out of equipment in a matter of months, which gives parents multiple opportunities to save money in the first several years of their child’s life; and
- Parents want the newest items: Even parents that have multiple children want to upgrade to the latest (and often safest) baby gear for their youngest, so selling and then rebuying offers a genuine advantage over years-old hand-me-downs.
When it Comes to Products for Kids, Safety and Quality Are Everything
Rebelstork’s proprietary REV tool lets parents quickly and easily calculate the value of their used baby gear based on criteria like age and condition, but that’s only the start of the process. Safety and quality are absolutely vital to baby products — no one wants their little one to end up with something broken or simply not quite right — and Rebelstork prides itself on thorough examinations of every item sold.
“When you’re a parent, you want to make sure what you’re getting is what is listed,” said Hosie. “That’s quite important to our company and one of the reasons why we are a managed marketplace, and not only from a buyer’s standpoint. You’d be surprised. Buyers obviously want to make sure that their items are being vetted and approved, but the sellers do too. I have a ton of baby gear to sell and prior to Rebelstork I would sell it on a DIY marketplace, but I would always leave after a transaction and feel like, ‘I don’t even know if my item [has been] recalled or not.’ Did I just sell something that’s not safe to another family? It can be stressful to the seller as well.”
The marketplace is designed to feel like a luxury store, with a similarly elevated experience. The Rebelstork team is well-trained in determining the value of any item that could be sold through the site to ensure every transaction goes as planned. As a result Rebelstork customers, who are collectively called the flock, are very engaged with the retailer and its website.
“Our site is very curated,” said Hosie. “Our team at Rebelstork are all experts in the retail space. We have decades of retail experience, having worked at some of the largest corporations in North America and the world. You’ll only ever see the most coveted best-of-the-best baby gear that holds value on our platform.”
Responsibility is Built into the Business
As a certified B corporation, which gives it a legal responsibility to balance purpose and profit, Rebelstork maintains its strong believes. “It’s within our shareholders’ agreement that this is a huge portion of our business, and our decisions are made internally alongside the socially and environmentally responsible considerations,” said Hosie.
The retailer helps communities through its Flock Gives program, which donates a portion of revenue and provides baby gear to moms in need and Canada. Flock Gives will soon partner with U.S. charities to bring this support to a whole new country.
Rebelstork’s reduction of the baby industry’s environmental impact is also inherent in its business model. By keeping obsolete but durable goods out of landfills, the marketplace is giving other brands and retailers an outlet for returns and their own sustainability efforts.
“The shift to ecommerce has led to the highest levels of returns that have ever been,” said Hosie. “Baby gear is one of those categories. If we can provide that and get gear that would have gone into landfills back into homes of other parents we can further build the circular economy.”