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Online luxury retailer gets physical again

BY Mike Troy

Online luxury consignment retailer The RealReal continues to make moves in the physical world as it seeks to simplify how customers interact with its innovative retail model.

San Francisco-based The RealReal began establishing a direct physical presence last August when it opened an office in New York City to authenticate and accept goods for sale, followed by a location this past February in Los Angeles. And it has now opened a third location focused on jewelry and watches in Chicago.

The new office in the heart of Chicago’s luxury shopping district at 980 N. Michigan Ave., allows people to bring their fine jewelry and watches in for a free appraisal to quickly and easily find out what their items are worth. The RealReal's team of graduate gemologists and watch experts assess and value clients' items by appointment only and provide a valuation document stating the items' resale value on The RealReal.com. Consignors earn 60% to 70% of the sale price of an item.

"What we're doing through our valuation concept is making fine jewelry and watch pricing more transparent and accessible to consumers, something that has been missing in the market until now," said Michael Groffenberger, The RealReal’s senior director of fine jewelry and watches. "Chicago has always been a strong market for us and one with a very established jewelry and watch industry, so we're excited to bring this unique service to the luxury shoppers of Chicago."

The opening of the new offices follows The RealReal’s move last summer to expand a pilot program with Neiman Marcus. In Feb. 2015, about a year after The Real Real hired 25 year Neiman Marcus veteran Ann Paolini as executive VP of sales, the upscale department store operator began a six store test in which it accepted goods for consignment on The RealReal. Last July, that pilot was expanded to 34 locations and a gift card payment option was added. Consignors were given the choice of receiving an additional 10% payout if they accepted payment in the form of a gift card redeemable at Neiman Marcus.

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