In 2013 when Australian entrepreneur Yasmin Grigaliunas spread the word on social media that she would be hosting a garage sale to raise money for cancer research, the local Brisbane community donated so many items (including brand-new high-quality goods) the event was nicknamed the World’s Biggest Garage Sale, and a retail revolution was born.
Fast forward 9 years during which the World’s Biggest Garage Sale has become an annual community event, and Yasmin is now heading a multi-million-dollar social enterprise that has just seen retail giant Officeworks acquire a 21% interest in the group.
Rebranded as Circonomy, the move follows World’s Biggest Garage Sales’ three-year association with Officeworks, who embraced the environmental, social and financial opportunities of a circular economy with their recovery and repair service.
The new brand is launching at a time when the circular economy retail sector is estimated to grow to $4.5 trillion globally by 2030.
As Officeworks managing director Sarah Hunter told Business News Australia, “We believe that, in time, this can be a solution that is much more widely adopted across the retail sector as a way to divert waste from landfill, extend product lifecycles, and ultimately build domestic repair and remanufacturing capability.”
Worlds Biggest Garage Sale and Officeworks
What goes around comes around ... and around
After a little shopping around on the subject of a circular economy, we discovered that retail’s biggest new trend isn’t so new at all. In fact, it’s well and truly in fashion with conscious consumers who are growing increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of fast fashion. A new global report by market research firm Global Data found that the second-hand clothing market is growing 11 times faster than traditional retail, and with $84 billion predicted by 2030, is estimated to be worth more than double that of fast fashion, (projected to be worth around $40 billion at the same time). No surprise then that retail giants on all ends of the market have been strengthening their position in resale.
The Real Real
Dressed for success
The ultimate ‘op-shops’, companies such as the RealReal boast a large selection of pre-loved designer items from Gucci, Chanel, Rolex and Hermes at up to 90% off retail prices. With its 18 bricks and mortar stores throughout the US helping to build brand affinity, when the online platform went public in 2019, it raised an astounding $300 million through its IPO.
The good second-hand news
Here in Australia, IKEA is the latest retailer to put up its own second-hand goods for sale with its “As-Is-Online” platform where customers can reserve second-hand IKEA furniture and homewares returned through the retailer’s Buy Back service, along with discontinued items and ex-showroom displays. This follows similar moves by other Australian retailers to sell their own second-hand stock through new online platforms or partnerships with pre-existing resale companies. David Jones has a partnership with luxury reseller Blue Spinach, while online retailer The Iconic has a partnership with pre-owned fashion marketplace AirRobe. With issues of price sensitivity, supply chain disruptions and growing customer demand for sustainability, retailers who succeed at business models based on the circular economy will most certainly be the winners of tomorrow.