From Pipe Dream to Sustainable Gear Pipeline: Geartrade’s first year of consignment
From day one, the purpose of Geartrade has always been to make it easier for outdoor folks to unload their perfectly good used gear for others to enjoy. We trucked along like that for nearly 20 years, with sellers posting their listings on their own. Then, about a year ago, we had the next big idea: what if we also added consignment-style listings—giving sellers an even easier option? That way, people could just mail us their stuff, and we’d sell it for them—creating the listing description, photo … the whole shebang.
We hoped that if we built it, they would come. And oh boy, it worked … our consignment program took off like a roller coaster. In the first full year of the program, we’ve received an insane total of 26,814 items.
What does this warehouse-turned-workshop look like, and how does it operate at full tilt with such a tiny team? We sat down with Wally Phillips, our Customer Experience Director (who wears several hats beyond that!) to help us paint the picture.
A year ago, the Geartrade “warehouse” (a generous term) was just a couple of rooms in an industrial part of Salt Lake. Once we turned on the consignment fire-hose, sales skyrocketed. Shipments soon grew to 30-40 packages a day. By the end of the year, we’d outgrown our original space, moved into a bigger warehouse, and started adding on to our warehouse space!
“What was truly exceptional is how tiny of a team handled all this. We have a couple people photographing every item, a couple more packing, unpacking, and shipping packages, a few more creating SKUs (product numbers), and a few researching tech specs and writing product descriptions,” says Wally. It’s a skeleton crew—small but mighty, getting more efficient by the day.
At the program’s outset, our goal was for most of the items we received to be in good, sellable shape. It’s why we’ve shared our consignment guidelines far and wide. Then, anything that isn’t sellable gets donated or recycled—or we give the seller the option to have it shipped back to them.
The amazing news is that it worked: the vast majority of the consignment items we received were sold, and we made major donations of non-sellable (but still totally usable!) to great causes along the way, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Salt Lake Bike Collective, the Gear Fund Collective, Recycle Utah, and The Road Home. Geartrade is also partnering with TerraCycle, a company that can disassemble and recycle just about anything, including outdoor gear, and recycle its materials and parts.
In total, we’ve kept $3 million worth of stuff out of landfills, with an average item retail value of $126. It means that not only have we kept good gear from going to waste, but we’ve helped get money in sellers’ pockets so they can keep fueling their own adventure pursuits.
We asked Wally what items seemed most popular for consignment submissions. And the big number-one category surprised us, then made sense: bike jerseys.
“Anyone who does a lot of cycling eventually accumulates bike jerseys from races and events. So it makes perfect sense for them to unload their oversupply for other—perhaps newer—riders to enjoy great quality riding jerseys at a fraction of retail cost,” Wally explains. Big win for bikers who want fresh duds.
The second-biggest category of consignment items received: women’s jackets, including down and casual jackets. We love keeping the ladies out there well-stocked in comfy and cozy coats.
The crowd-faves continue from there. One fascinating fact: the fastest-selling item is bear spray canisters. People hate letting them go to waste after backpacking trips in bear habitat, so they can sell the canisters on consignment for new folks to use.
What it all boils down to—and what keeps us so stoked in spite of the long days running around the warehouse—is the feedback sellers are sharing. It’s just so easy to consign stuff, especially compared to alternatives like local classifieds and social media marketplaces, which have a huge hassle factor and lots of energy wasted in back-and-forth negotiations.
“We hear from tons of people that they’re happy Geartrade exists. They’re selling stuff they never would have thought to sell, more easily than they ever imagined they could. It’s a great way to clear out their closets and make a little cash too,” says Wally.
The convenience is, ultimately, everything. Because by making it easier for people to unload their gear and keep it out of landfills, we’re shifting patterns in consumer buying behavior.
“To keep the outdoors alive, we have to change our buying habits—we have to make re-commerce more accepting and acceptable. This is the big shift for the outdoor industry, bringing used gear and clothes to the masses,” Wally says.”
“We’re trying to do this as well as it can be done, hoping that recommerce eventually overtakes buying new as the norm. It’s a bigger dream than shooting for the moon … it’s shooting for Jupiter! But it’s worth the shot.”
This intergalactic-scale effort has garnered us so much attention that we’re blushing—Geartrade was honored with the 2023 Outdoor Retailer Innovation Award for making more sustainable outdoor gear commerce so easy that it can achieve mass adoption among consumers.
That’s the scoop from our first big year. It’ll be hard to top, but we’re so stoked about all the forward momentum from here. Feeling inspired to send us your own consignment items? Have a gander at the how-to page. We’ll see you out there.
Beth Lopez is a seasoned writer and creative director who loves to tell tales of adventure and discovery—and finds writing a powerful way to give a voice to people, causes, and places. Beth runs amok in the Wasatch mountains when untethered from her computer. She believes there’s no such thing as a bad ski day and considers animals her favorite people. Don’t tell her mother about her Instagram mountaineering photos.
Follow us on Instagram + Facebook: Tag us @geartrade with the hashtag #unnewoutdoor #wearitout on your post or story for a chance to be featured on our page.
Have Winter gear to sell? Get cracking.
Winter is here. Have skis, snowboards, snowshoes? Now is the time to sell them. It is now easier than ever to sell your gear on Geartrade. With our new Consignment Selling option you can finally reclaim your gear closet. Send it in. We take care of the rest.
Geartrade is Climate Neutral Certified