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The RealReal is putting down roots in the heartland.
The San Francisco-based luxury consignment company has opened a Midwest flagship on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue — the largest in its fleet. The 12,000-square-foot store at 940 North Michigan Avenue offers men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, accessories and shoes on the main and mezzanine levels along with a consignment office and a café.
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The store also offers fine jewelry, watches, home products and art. And there is a Chicago-inspired sneaker wall.
Among the services featured are a repair shop for handbags, shoes, jewelry and watches, and a glass-enclosed watchmaker station is located in the center of the store where customers can watch horologists work and consult with them for tips on watches.
Rati Levesque, chief operating officer of The RealReal, said the focus on watches and jewelry repair in this store is intended to not only increase the value of the items but also to convince customers to consign with the company when they’re ready to part with their pieces.
The store is merchandised according to brands, trends and styles with a focus on Louis Vuitton and Gucci apparel and handbags, Tiffany and Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry, Rolex and Cartier watches, Yeezy and Jordan sneakers, and Burberry and Moncler outerwear — all labels and items popular in the city.
There is a larger-than-usual men’s department with an assortment that ranges from tailored clothing from Brunello Cucinelli and others, to streetwear.
Levesque said, “Opening our largest store yet gives us even more opportunity to create a rich experience for buyers and consignors. We hope this new flagship will drive even more Chicagoans to support resale and help us make fashion more sustainable.”
The Art Deco-designed store used sustainable materials and also features refurbished vintage furniture and compostable packaging in the café. Local artists will be featured in the store and the café, which is called CafeCafe, will have a Chicago flair, she said.
The RealReal operates two stores in New York City, one in Los Angeles and another in San Francisco and there are 10 consignment offices where customers can bring their products, pick up orders and get appraisals.
During the pandemic, The RealReal’s stores were forced to close, but since reopening, she said sales — and consignments — are picking up. “COVID-19 fatigue is a real thing,” she said. “Our supply is doing great and people are still running errands and stopping by the stores.” In April, the company pivoted to online consignments and it conducted more than 25,000 virtual appointments during the second quarter.
Even though most of the company’s sales come through e-commerce, “We’re optimistic about retail. We don’t think it’ll go away,” she said. “We see retail as an accelerator to our growth so it’s never a bad decision. The stores are a value-add.”
Beyond Chicago, there are no plans to open any other stores right now. “We’re always looking at key markets and we’re committed to opening another couple of stores,” she said.
While the picture may be brightening, The RealReal is still losing money. In the second quarter ended June 30, The RealReal’s losses widened to $42.9 million from $26.9 million a year earlier as total revenues fell 20.5 percent to $57.4 million from $72.2 million. The value of the goods sold on the platform — the gross merchandise volume — fell 20 percent to $182.8 million.