Mother, full-time employee, and independent business owner Kristin Mueller was tired of spending time searching through Facebook yard-sale pages, looking at clothes and home goods she wouldn’t buy.
“I was so frustrated with the ‘I want, I want, I want’ and sifting through the outdated items that someone thought, ‘oh great, I’ll sell this old shirt five years after it was in style,’” Mueller said.
With the launch of the new Towne & Market platform, Mueller found a way to buy quality designer clothes without the hassle.
“We wanted more of the community feel that you get on some of the Facebook boards, with a more refined touch,” said co-founder Leslie LaLonde.
Started by LaLonde, a Park Cities resident, and Patty Wu Benson, who lives in San Francisco, Towne & Market aims to offer all the pros of eBay and Facebook yard sales without the negatives. Membership is free, but premier membership, at $10 per month, offers buyers 24-hour early access to new listings.
“We both enjoy online shopping and we both like higher-end goods, but buying them full price is not always economically feasible,” said LaLonde. “It’s hard to find a good online shopping experience in the resale market with all the categories we offer.”
The site sells women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing and accessories, as well as home décor. Buyers and sellers within a 100-mile radius can meet up to deliver the goods, while payment is handled on PayPal. Now, 10 months after its initial launch in Dallas and San Francisco, the company is allowing sellers the option to ship their items across the country.
The buying process, though unique, is fairly simple. Instead of haggling over prices, or hoping the seller will find their offer in a bevy of commenters, users reserve items on a first-come, first-serve basis. If the buyer doesn’t send a private message to the seller within 24 hours, then the next person on the waiting list is revealed to the seller and invited to purchase the item.
The two founders approve each item listed on the site, meaning there’s no junk. You can even use the site’s directory to target a specific brand, like Carolina Herrera or Louboutin.
“Being able to filter, to only look at children’s clothing when I’m searching specifically, say, for my daughter, saves me so much,” Mueller said. “I’m comfortable with who I’m picking up the products from and the filtering and reservation system for me is worth my time.”
The site isn’t exclusively for individual buyers and sellers. Local Dallas consignment and secondhand shops have caught on, too. You can find Bijou One and Dallas artists selling their wares on the site, which doesn’t charge sellers for commissions or listing fees, unlike most sites.
“For a small business to undertake e-commerce can be a large feat, but with our site, they can get their items in front of people, and local residents can and pick it up in-store,” Benson said. “Sales via Towne & Market have moved some customers to even end up buying something else while they’re in a local store for pickup.”