ThredUP Site Aims to Tie Together Loose Strings of Children’s Used Clothing Market

4/8/10Follow @xconomy

Cambridge, MA-based thredUP‘s mission is simple: to be “the place where America’s busiest families exchange clothing for kids,” says co-founder and CEO James Reinhart.

The idea came to him in November 2008, when he was staring at a closet full of clothes that he no longer wanted to wear, he says. Last October, the company launched an e-commerce site for peer-to-peer exchanges of men’s and women’s shirts, but it has quickly evolved to focus on more miniature clothing consumers.

ThredUP seeks to get apparel that kids have outgrown in the hands of others it would fit. The average U.S. family spends about $1,000 a year outfitting their rapidly growing tots, says Reinhart. “Our goal is to supplement that experience to save parents money,” he says.

Setting up an exchange on thredUP is designed to take about 10 minutes from start to finish. Users can browse boxes containing 10 to 18 children’s clothing items, based on factors such as gender, size, season, or clothing items. Once a user selects a box they’d like, the thredUP site automatically sends the box’s creator an e-mail instructing them to ship it.

Once a user has picked a box, it’s expected they’ll put together a box themselves; a process the site walks them through. They select the child’s age, gender, and size from dropdown menus. Next they choose exactly how many of each clothing item they’re packing, and further qualify that by selecting the season of the clothing, at least three brands the box includes, the most prominent colors in the collection, and any additional descriptions.

The site even automatically generates a shipping label for the exchange, which users can print out on their home computer, and stick on free postal boxes.ThredUP helps users order the postal boxes, and schedules the time when the clothes can be picked up right from their home.

“The whole thing has been designed for super ease of use,” says Reinhart, who’s expecting his first child this summer. “We think so many websites don’t button it up the full way.”

At this point users can build kids’ boxes on the site, but the exchanges won’t go live until early next week. The kids’ site has accrued more than 1,000 users in the two weeks it’s been up, Reinhart says.

Shoppers pay $13 to send and receive one box, which mainly goes to shipping costs of the exchange. ThredUP makes … Next Page »

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