Bloomberg Línea — In the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, the market for secondhand goods became globalized due to their economic, environmental and technological benefits.
In this market, sellers make profits by selling products that still have a useful life, while buyers acquire goods and brands at a much lower price than they usually find.
In 2021, the global apparel resale market was worth $35 billion, up from $11 billion in 2012, according to a 2022 report by marketplace ThredUp.
In several Central American countries, new businesses have emerged that are revolutionizing the way the secondhand clothing and goods sales industry works.
In El Salvador, more than 1,000 product sellers and 30,000 active users interact on Vitrinnea, an e-commerce application for secondhand goods that aims to expand regionally, with the goal of reaching the most important markets in the region within three to four years.
The app launched in 2021 with the aim of promoting a better recirculation experience. Its developers foresee in the short term a new round of private financing with which they will seek to strengthen the product’s technology, improve personalization in the buying and selling experience, and other key features in the user experience, “everything necessary to prepare Vitrinnea to regional scale,” according to the company’s co-founder and CEO, Julio Javier Pastore.
This application has the support of renowned entrepreneurs, including Hugo’s founders, Alejandro Argumedo and Ricardo Cuellar, and has received venture capital investment, including from the funds Centro Fund, which is focused on Central American startups and led by John Truxillo.
Connecting sellers and buyers
In Guatemala, digital marketplace platform Julajups expanded its offices and e-commerce operations to Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic in 2020.
The portal launched in 2016 is dedicated to connecting sellers and buyers so they can post, promote and sell their products directly. In this way, goods that are still in good condition and have months or years of useful life left are recirculated.
Currently, the platform allows individuals to advertise and sell their products and services immediately, 24 hours a day, to thousands of potential buyers and consumers in a variety of categories.
The tool seeks to save the planet raw materials by reusing goods in good condition and reducing the consumption of materials used in the production of new ones.
The largest clothing recycler in Central America
Also in Guatemala, Megapaca has changed the way second-hand clothing is sold in a very simple way. In 2001, it started selling clothes on racks, at a time when bales (bundles) were sold scattered on the floor and people were used to searching through piles of clothes.
More than two decades later, the company continues to be a key player in the marketing of used clothing with 115 stores in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, markets in which it has 6,000 direct employees.
Megapaca executives participated in February in the SMART 2023 Annual Convention in Dubai, a meeting that promotes garment recycling worldwide.
“At Megapaca we seek to be the largest recycling company in the region,” said Mario Peña, director of the company, adding that in 2022 alone the company imported 84 million pounds in 2,650 containers of miscellaneous items, such as clothing, toys and bicycles, in addition to 840,000 pairs of shoes on average per month.
The executive said that clothing that is not sold in stores is collected and processed at its sister company Novafiber, where 1,400 tons of textiles are recycled per month, transforming them into raw material for mattresses and furniture stuffing.
“We not only buy and work with material that would be discarded in landfills, but we make it available in a dignified way to be reused and, what is not sold, we recycle,” Peña said.