A Staten Island strip mall is an unlikely place to go looking for the future of online auction shopping. But that’s where I found myself one recent Saturday afternoon, in search of QuikDrop—a store where you don’t buy things but sell them. You drop off your Palm V and your circa-’98 Gucci sandals; QuikDrop auctions them on eBay; you get a check in the mail.
It sounded good to me: Selling stuff on eBay is my idea of hell. Writing advertisements? Top of my “To Do (Never)” list. Fielding endless e-mail queries from buyers with user names like i.love.la and tigerbelle? Nightmarish. And I’d rather get clocked by piles of falling shoeboxes than hire a stranger off Craigslist to peddle my cast-offs for me.
The Staten Island franchise (95 Page Avenue; 718-874-6402; quikdrop.com) is QuikDrop’s first in New York. (Another opens on Long Island this week, with four more projected for Manhattan this fall—probably in midtown and on the Upper East and West sides.) Aside from its quirky, retro comic-book sign, QuikDrop couldn’t be more nondescript—just plain gray walls and a long countertop to spread out your goods on. In my case: black Prada pumps, never worn (three-and-a-half-inch heels give me altitude sickness). Manolo Blahnik slingbacks, a half-size too big, bought in a sale frenzy. And Tod’s loafers (patent leather and crimson—was I drunk?) left in the box since purchase.
Chatty, clean-cut franchise owner Todd Alwell (an ex–Citibank systems analyst) assessed the value of each item ($50 minimum) with the help of software that analyzes the stats on similar past sales. Quickly determining that all my goods would be “guaranteed sales,” he suggested that we start the bidding at 99 cents, without a reserve price—“Statistically, reserve auctions end with fewer bids,” he informed me. (All QuikDrop franchisees go through two weeks of training.) Todd took detailed photographs of all my items and posted my auctions in the early evening (meaning they end at the same time, conveniently for last-minute after-work bidders). The same day, QuikDrop e-mailed me links to each auction; a day later, the heels had dozens of bids.
New York could be the perfect place for QuikDrop. It promises to make the eBay experience friction-free, and friction is the essence of the New York resale experience. You can pick up a perfectly decent coffee table on certain Upper East Side streets for good reason: There’s nowhere else to take it. (QuikDrop will accept any furniture that weighs less than 150 pounds and can be shipped by UPS.) And who has time to manage a stoop sale or wait for that vintage Versace dress to sell at Ina?
Then there’s anonymity. Your name doesn’t appear on the auction, reducing the risk of annoying a friend when you regift that duplicate wedding present. And you don’t have to deal with sketchy eBay users: QuikDrop fields the questions from the guy who asks you to go into lurid detail about a hairline crack. Buyers win, too: It’s QuikDrop’s job to get items to them promptly (unlike that seller who once flaked on sending me a Marc Jacobs Frankie bag for three weeks).
Of course, there’s a catch: QuikDrop takes a hefty 20 to 38 percent cut on each sale, plus eBay fees. My Blahnik slingbacks went to go-go-girl, who snatched them for $113.49 with two seconds to go; my_daughters_eyes grabbed the loafers for $41. After fees and commissions, my take worked out to just over $60 on the Manolos and $20 on the loafers. That might not be the best deal for experienced eBay users intent on maximum profits. (Although selling items over $200 reduces commissions.) But those heels weren’t leaving my closet anytime soon. And who knows how many questions go-go-girl asked before placing her bid?