Saturday, July 26, 2008

Designer handbags at less than full price (it's ok then!)

So a few weeks back, when I was struggling particularly hard with my purse habit (ok, I bought 8 purses to be exact, but this is how I feel when I buy a good purse --how can something that feels so right be wrong?), I had this idea for a purse exchange -- it would be a closed community of designer purse collectors, who, when they tired of their bags, could auction them off or exchange them for other high-end bags. The challenge of course would be to get a critical mass of users to make the place interesting. I did the economics and unless I charged what I thought were somewhat unreasonable prices, it was definitely going to be more of a hobby than a business venture.

Anyway, as with all my good ideas, someone else already thought of it. BagBanco, which is a venture of From Bags to Riches (a Bag, Borrow or Steal competitor), has put a marketplace together for gently used bags. There's no auction function -- they basically sell for you on consignment for cash or for credit -- but it's pretty close (I have to say I think the subscription fees are high, but based on the model I built I think they have to be this way in order for them to be reasonably profitable). I had purchased the URL with the idea that I might actually build this thing, but for now it just lists the bags I need to sell in order to make room for my 8 new babies -- I'm sort of like the Angelina Jolie of purse collecting (at least one of each color, from multiple continents). Anyway, the other side benefit of staring would have been the need to build an initial stash of inventory in order to start activity of the site -- purse start-up capital, if you will. Now I'll just have to build my stash with no good excuse at all.

I know it's bad when you have to give away clothes in order to make space for your bags. My friend Jenny clarified that it's perfectly ok to give away your husband's clothes in order to make room for your bags -- but she also suggested selling my platelets to fund my bag habit. The thing that makes me feel better about it is not paying full price for a designer bag (then, as my friend Nina says, you'd be losing money if you don't buy it!). Here are the best sources I've found for discount designer purse shopping:

  • eBay: When I was doing research around, the biggest stumbling block I came upon was how to compete with eBay. They are simply the largest and most sophisticated forum. And there are some really great deals on bags -- be careful though because there are fakes -- try the Authentication Forum at if you're not sure. They also have a nice search option that enables you to get automated messages when items that meet your criteria are listed.
  • Bag, Borrow or Steal: They've got an outlet section (you have to register in order to view it) where they sell you refurbished bags with a satisfaction guarantee. Prices are typically higher than I see on eBay, but you're guaranteed authenticity. They get new inventory in each Wednesday, with additional discounts on Fridays.
  • BagBanco: I haven't bought from them yet -- they don't have a critical mass of products yet , but the prices seem reasonable and you are also guaranteed an authentic bag.
  • Bluefly: They have a decent selection, but I am somewhat prejudiced against them because they don' t have Botkier, though they do have Kooba. Average discount is between 20-50% off retail. I see the same selection on eBay, so I think eBay still wins out on price overall.

Feed the habit!

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