Trove CEO and founder Andy Ruben sees a bright future for resale.
His company, which just secured an additional $77.5 million in Series D funding, powers resale operations for brands such as Lululemon, Patagonia, REI, Nordstrom, and more. In his role, he’s seen firsthand the benefit of a brand having an in-house method for upcycling used products through their own company.
As Ruben explained it, “Brands have to be there. The companies that neglect to join the secondhand wave could face an “existential threat,” he said.
The secondhand market is set to more than double in size to $77 billion over the next five years, according to ThredUp’s 2021 Resale Report released in June. As peer-to-peer resale platforms like Poshmark and Depop gain popularity, some brands are looking to power resale for their products on their own terms. This is where Trove comes in.
Trove offers brands the logistics, operations, and technology to handle resale of their products. A consumer looking to resell a brand’s products can do so in stores or on the brand’s website. From there, a product gets shipped to Trove’s 80,000-square-foot facility in Northern California, where items are processed, catalogued, photographed, listed on a brand’s own website, and ultimately shipped out to a buyer in the brand’s packaging.
For the consumer, Trove never actually makes an appearance in the resale process. It’s all coming from the face of a brand like Lululemon or Patagonia. To Ruben, that’s exactly the point.
“It’s important for brands to own this themselves,” he said. “It’s not sufficient to just participate in a thrift store.”
Ruben believes that it is important for a brand to design, market, and control its own resale arm to maximize customer loyalty, retention, and acquisition. Trove is there to take care of logistics in the background.
“Patagonia’s the only one who can really do Patagonia right,” he said. “You can’t expect to outsource that and just participate in a marketing partnership where someone does this for you.”
In the last three years, Trove has tripled its number of checked in and listed items. Ruben projects that brands in the program will eventually see their resale arms constitute between 10% and 20% percent of annual revenue, Ruben projected.
In 2021 alone, Trove has had partnership queries from nearly 150 brands, about a third of which are potentially suitable. To be a good fit, Ruben said a brand should sell durable items that maintain desirability.
Other players are taking note of the resale trend as well. Urban Outfitters said last week it will launch its own resale marketplace for shoppers to buy and sell men’s, women’s and kids’ clothing. PacSun and Burberry also have their own resale programs. ThredUp, a leading thrifting site, has facilitated resale arms for multiple retailers via its “resale as a service” platform. In July, ThredUp said that it plans to acquire Remix, a major European fashion resale site, in an effort to expand its operations internationally.
Whether via Trove or other means, the same positive factors are fueling the continued growth of the resale market.
“It’s driven by value, by sustainability, and getting rid of this stigma from years ago about preowned items,” Ruben said.