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

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less than $1 per each of these exchanges, and is mainly planning to profit from pro memberships that it will offer for $29.99 a year. Pro members will still have to pay the cost for each swap, but will have access to a greater range of features, such as giveaway offers, more detail on the brands and contents of the boxes they’re browsing, and the quality, style, and reliability history of the user that’s shipping those boxes.

They also get an unlimited number of people in their inner circle, which is basically your social network that’s also using thredUP. The free membership limits a user’s circle to five people. The inner circle gives thredUP a more personal touch, ultimately allowing shoppers to swap kids clothing with their friends who are far away. (Think of your old college roommates who have since moved across the country but are now having kids). When searching the marketplace, users have the option of viewing only their inner circle’s available boxes.

In most cases, the clothing never even hits thredUP’s office space. The company only gets its hands on the exchanges for quality checks. As users complete a box, the site asks them if they’d describe it as new or like new if they were selling it on another e-commerce site. This on-your-honor system has earned about an 80 percent quality rating for the men’s and women’s version of the site, Reinhart says. Because the peer-to-peer exchange practically runs itself, thredUP is still holding onto the adult clothing exchange, but is putting all its energy into the kids’ segment of the business, Reinhart says.

To control the flow of customer traffic when the kids’ site launches next week, it will initially be invite-only and have a waiting list for everyone else. (Readers, you can bypass the line by clicking here). ThredUP will let more people in as it grows comfortable managing customer numbers on the site.

The startup, founded in January 2009, has raised about $300,000 so far from angel funders here in Boston and on the West Coast, and is about to start the quest for institutional funding, Reinhart says. He’s exploring ways to establish partnerships with communities of moms through Facebook and even the military, where families overseas run into the problem of finding reliable children’s clothing, Reinhart says.

He sees the children’s clothing exchange as only the first step of a Web-based business focused on communities of mothers. “The long-range play is: what could you do with a platform of a million moms?” Reinhart says.

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