Two years after a major rebranding and expansion effort, consignment retailer 2nd Time Around has shuttered, according to a notice on the company's website. Requests for more information from Retail Dive — to the communications address on the website, and to former CEO Kristin Kohler Burrows (now a senior director at turnaround and consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal) — were not immediately returned. Michael Swackhamer of Generation Equity Capital (listed as a contact on a New York City store shuttered for nonpayment of rent) told Retail Dive he was unaware of any ownership in the retailer and that the notice was in error.
A notice on the company’s website blamed the overall retail market: “Because of a convergence of market forces hitting all brick and mortar stores — including increased competition from online retailers combined with skyrocketing rents — we have made the difficult decision to close our stores.”
Over 35 years, the company had grown from a single store to more than 40 boutiques in 12 states, according to its website. With most of that expansion occurring in recent years, the retailer's downfall could have come from expanding brick-and-mortar stores too quickly. Generation Equity Capital published a number of news articles about the retailer on its website though not any indication of investment.
There’s little information about what went wrong at 2nd Time Around, led by Burrows who was tapped as CEO in 2014. At the time, the retailer launched a rapid expansion that included several new stores in major cities’ toniest retail areas, including nine in New York City alone.
Many consignors are furious with the company, complaining that stores strung them along, promising payment on sold merchandise that never materialized. Even before the store closures, some consignors complained of slow checks and lost merchandise at many of the stores. While some are owed a thousand dollars or more, most are contending with non-payments of a few hundred dollars, which doesn't meet the threshold for government agencies or state attorneys general to take up the matter on their behalf, according to comments on the Facebook group 2nd Time Around Needs to Pay.
Once a haven for cash-poor fashionistas and vintage hunters, consignment shops have gone mainstream in recent years, especially among younger shoppers who like a deal and the idea of recycling used apparel. The retailers are enjoying it, too, with healthy sales growth. Second-hand stores have the “treasure hunt” appeal of discount retailers like T.J. Maxx, and less of the iffy lower-quality merchandise often found at outlet stores.
A consignment shopper must be assertive when going through the racks and bins at a consignment store, and it’s no different for the retailers. It’s no longer your grandmother’s second-hand shop — but 2nd Time Around is leaving it to the likes of The Real Real, Poshmark and ThredUp, which operate online, and to Goodwill and the many local shops nationwide, to carry on the new era of second-hand retail.