Lucky Office Visit: Corri McFadden from VH1's House of Consignment
Last we spoke to Corri McFadden, founder of Chicago-based resale store eDrop-Off, her reality show House of Consignment was about to premiere. Since then, she's rocketed to TV stardom and her company has never been better. What started as a small retail space in the Windy City has grown to an in-demand service throughout the country.
During her last business trip to New York (which she balanced with a little pleasure—"We've set aside a morning for our retail needs," she told us) the style-savvy entrepreneur stopped by the Lucky offices to talk about her brand, being on television and the labels she loves.
First off, can you tell me a little more about your company and how it works?
At eDrop-Off, we resell your designer and luxury goods online—we're basically the concierge to your closet. I started the business eight years ago and since then, we've sold over over 200,000 items—that's about 1,500 to 2,000 per week. We basically take all those pieces that are hiding out in your closet and you're no longer wearing, whatever the reason might be.
We have two retail locations in Chicago and New York, where you can actually physically come and drop off. And then we do free nationwide pickups—we'll have UPS come to you, pick up your boxes, and we pay for the freight and do all the work.
We also do free closet cleans in Chicago, New York and L.A. So you can call us because you simply need a voice of reason, to help you with the process…which is what most people need. We're not there to strip down your closet and take out all your designer items cause they're going to sell. We're there to get your closet curated down to you and get all that excess out. Once you start working with us, you're going to continue to use this service—because you're constantly consuming items! So every season, when the trends come in, and you want to update and want to change—it's a way of cleaning out that old and somewhat justifying the new. Like these Rag & Bone pants! (Gestures to her printed skinny jeans.) They're fabulous and I love them—this season. But next season, new prints are going to come out, and I'm going to be over these. So why not cash them in and then buy a new pair?
Do you pay your clients up front or is your program consignment-based?
It's strictly consignment—we sell 100 percent on eBay, everything goes on a 7-day auction and the bidding starts between $18.99 and $49.99. We're able to stick to the auction format because of the reputation we've built on the eBay platform—people know what they're buying from us is genuine. We authenticate every single item that comes through the store, and our auctions are like any other e-commerce site—amazing photos, all the key authenticity points are shown, detailed descriptions, detailed measurements.
If an item doesn't sell, do you donate it to charity?
We only take in merchandise we know will sell—we have a 96 percent sell-through rate. We almost sell everything that comes through our store. So we make sure that it is what our buyers want. And our buyers are on all ends of the spectrum. We carry a size zero, and we had a pair of Oscar de la Renta pants in the other day that were a size 20! It's interesting because there aren't that many sites that cater to so many sizes. And you're bidding! It's fun to bid. It's makes the purchase a little more than clicking "buy now" and just paying.
How do you authenticate everything?
We have two experts in-house that I've trained. They live and breathe this, and the only way is to really be around all that merchandise. It used to be just fake handbags, but now it's everything: shoes, fragrance, clothing...you name it, you can buy it online. Not through eBay, but other sites. I actually sent my first "hate tweet" last night. @Louboutinustore—which only sells knockoffs—tweeted me last night to advertise a certain style. And I lost it. I was like, "Do not tweet me your third-world-country, child-labor-created, drug-trafficking knockoff shoes anymore!" And it got retweeted, like, 150 times.
How did House of Consignment happen?
When the show's team first called me I was like, "I don't think so. I've worked so hard in my business, I have my entire life invested in this. The last thing I want to do is feel like I have to move out of the county because of some shameful reality show that has ruined my business." And I was like, "It has to be on my terms, it has to be real." So we talked it out over a three-month period and built a relationship to the point where I trusted them to start filming me. After we made the pilot, I flew to L.A. and we met with all the networks over a two-day period. VH1 ended up buying it—quickly. And they spun us into full production.
Since you are constantly surrounded by so much gorgeous merchandise, are tempted to shop all the time?
My boyfriend is like, "It is crazy to me that you are the queen of budget shopping," and then I go buy retail. But here's the thing: I buy. I shop on eBay and I shop on eDrop-Off. But when it's your business, you look at things differently. I don't want to take it off the floor, I'd rather sell it and get a happy buyer out there that might turn into a consigner. There are some pieces that come through that I have to have, like Chanel jewelry. When there are pieces like that I know aren't coming through again, I'll bid on those. But our team has no upper-hand advantage, except that we can try pieces on. Many tears are shed in our office when our girls get outbid on stuff.
So, which brands do you like to buy in stores?
I'm obsessed with Rag and Bone pants—they fit me perfectly. I always pay retail for shoes because I can't wait for them to go on sale. I love Zara and Topshop...those two have become solid basics in my wardrobe. I shop at a store called Sophia's in Chicago, which carries a lot of Stylestalker and other West Coast brands. I invest in accessories and core basics, like a pair of The Row leather leggings and a Balenciaga jacket. But I'm big on trends and I like to turn my closet over.
For more information on consigning your closet and to search for secondhand treasures, visit Corri's site, Shopedropoff.com. Then, stop by the store's Facebook page here and enter the "Show Us What You Bought" contest for a chance to win a Balenciaga envelope clutch.
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