By Erin Bury

Original Source: The National Post November 26th, 2012

Sometimes one successful business idea can inspire another, which was the case with Hamilton, Ont.-based startup Trend Trunk. For nearly three years now, founder Sean Snyder has been running Swapopolis, a Canadian online gift card exchange.

The idea for Trend Trunk came when he noticed that the majority of cards being bought and sold on Swapopolis were in the fashion and dining categories. Snyder said he saw the opportunity to let members sell not just gift cards, but clothing and accessories.

"[Members] said they have items they love, but aren't in love with anymore, or items they bought spontaneously, or wore once to an event," Snyder said, adding that after doing research he found the average Canadian spends $2,500 on clothing a year. "[That] means there are a lot of lonely clothes looking to be loved again, along [with] an opportunity for someone to make some money from the clothes they purchased."

Trend Trunk launched in July 2012 to let people sell their unwanted mid- to high-end clothing, and to let shoppers find high-quality used clothing. The platform incorporates social features to let shoppers see what their friends are buying, and the items they've liked on the platform. The company also provides sellers with a trackable pre-paid/pre-addressed Canada Post shipping label after their item sells, so they can print it, package the item, and ship it to the buyer.

The company keeps 20% of each item sold, which is the same as similar site Threadflip, lower than the typical 50% kept by consignment stores, but higher than some other online marketplaces such as HipSwap (3.5%) and Tradesy (9%).

There is no shortage of online fashion resale marketplaces, from well-known brands like eBay to up-and-coming startups. However, Trend Trunk, Snyder said, is trying to provide an alternative to Craigslist and Kijiji, saving consumers from having to meet with potential buyers before selling an item. It is also trying to provide a platform that's simpler to use and more focused than a general-purpose marketplace such as eBay. While many competitors are based in the United States, there's always the possibility they could launch in Canada.

"There's always this concern, but we feel with our track record of running marketplace platforms for almost three years, that we have not only a great product, but a great team and solid experience," he said.

After only five months, the site has more than 10,000 users, and Snyder said there are plans to launch mobile apps in the next few months. The company has also launched a charitable initiative, letting sellers donate all or a portion of their sales to Canadian charities, something Snyder said also sets Trend Trunk apart from its competitors. He declined to comment about whether the team will keep Swapopolis going; but whether or not it stays active, he's hoping he can find success with another online marketplace.


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