Shops selling high-end brand bags on consignment have opened en masse in recent years in Chengdu, with at least eight new shops this year, in areas such as Yulin, Zijing, Tongzilin, and Chunxi Lu. Four shops can be found within 400 meters of Chunxi Lu's First City shopping mall alone.
Most of the shops stock between 100 and 200 items, mainly LV, Gucci, and other designer handbags that resell for between RMB1,000 and 30,000. One shop owner said the stock included 1,000 bags worth RMB5 million.
In fact, as early as 2008, shops for trading used high-end products appeared in Chengdu, but their existence was short-lived. "Although there was a market for the goods, consumers' level of understanding wasn't very high and it was very difficult to authenticate any of the goods, so it was always a difficult business," explained one of the secondhand dealers, adding that the shops rely on word-of-mouth advertising and owners of high-end bags to put their unwanted goods up for sale.
But secondhand culture, while in vogue in Western countries, is often viewed as taboo in China. In fact, a QQ poll that asked readers whether or not they would be willing to visit a secondhand high-end shop showed that not even 6 percent (fewer than 200 of the more than 2,500 respondents) would give it a try.
An office worker surnamed Xu who often receives customers and is required to dress professionally is grateful for the shops. Previously, she went to Hong Kong to buy brand-name items at discounted prices. Now she can purchase the same goods, secondhand, in Chengdu. She doesn't feel any qualms about buying secondhand.
"I don't think it's a loss of face. I'd still spend two or three thousand yuan to buy a slightly upscale bag, but for the same money I can buy a high-end used bag. Carrying one of these brands is a status symbol," she said.
It's not only customers who are happy about the emergence of these shops. Bag collectors are grateful for a place to resell their no-longer-wanted goods.
Long Fei, a manager of a travel company, said that he frequently purchases high-end brand products during trips to Hong Kong, Macao, or abroad and over the time has accumulated an unwieldy collection of luxury goods. He likes the idea of putting them for sale on a consignment basis.
Shops offer the display and sales service for the goods and retain an agreed-upon amount of each sale, such as 15 percent. Each shop's policy is different, but some do not allow haggling over prices in order to avoid having to communicate back and forth repeatedly with the seller and buyer in order to reach a price agreeable to both sides.
Some shops are reporting monthly sales of RMB200,000 to 400,000.
Another shop has taken to holding pop-up stores at real-estate complexes and business clubs in order to sell their bags. These events aim to introduce the culture of luxury brands to potential customers. Prices aren't fixed, and the shop has reported sales of at least RMB30,000 at such events.