In the past, the global luxury resale market has been fragmented and dominated by small, local boutiques with limited consumer reach. However, now, with the power and influence of social media, online resale sites have grown exponentially and are thriving more now than ever before. Top global consulting firm McKinsey predicts that the industry will see an astonishing annual growth rate of 10-15 percent over the next decade.
For this particular luxury resale business, the founder built it from the ground up. Yoni Chesner did not know much about fashion when he was younger, but he learned and loved it more and more as he got older. As a yeshiva student in his hometown of Baltimore, his first job in a bagel shop paid just $6 per hour. “I went to the clearance section at Ross,” he said with a chuckle.
The moment things began to turn around is when Chesner first visited Saks Fifth Avenue Company in Aberdeen, Maryland — a popular shopping destination for religious Jews. This trip to Saks, at just 19 years old, changed both his personal style and the future of his career. The items sold at the Saks Company location in Aberdeen are products that were returned to Saks locations all over the country — this is when Chesner’s lightbulb went off. “I bought a few designer sweaters there, and put them up on eBay,” he said. “Before I knew it, I turned $300 into $900.”
Chesner started making trips to Manhattan, searching for deals at sample sales, where he would purchase designer pieces and resell them online. Once he began to develop relationships with various distributors, he and his wife, Chaya, decided to create their business Amuze.com, a flash sale website. “In the beginning it was a disaster,” he said. “Customers were like, what is this thing? But we’ve turned it around since, we’ve built inventory through lots of channels, thank God, bli ayin hara.”
“We don’t have the customer who wants to walk into Chanel and buy a handbag at full price,” he says. “Yeah, you feel like a million bucks, they offer you champagne while you shop. But for us, we are giving the bargain, the thrill of the find. That’s our customer base.”
Amuze has accumulated a loyal customer base of more than 150,000 users, many of whom are Orthodox, coming full circle for Chesner. The company has worked with many prominent Jewish influencers, such as Esther + Sasha, Man Repeller and more. “We have real shopaholics on our site,” he says. “I have a customer who spent over $100,000 on our site this past year alone. Once someone finds out about us, they’re a customer. They see it’s the real deal, and they keep coming back.”