Giving a Second Life to Stuff

Svalka.me

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

The innovation of the company is to give a second life to the unwanted old stuff, so that these items will not be thrown away or stored for years. Unnecessary things that can be resold to new owners include: old books and clothes to second-hand retailers, equipment and furniture to production companies, vintage goods to restorers and antique dealers. "We are for the ideology of conscious consumption", Tatyana Sorochinskaya, the owner of Svalka.me, tells us. The business innovation contributes to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals #12 "Responsible Consumption & Production" and #11 "Sustainable Cities and Communities".

Authors

Guillaume Meier

Guillaume Meier

Albina Gimaletdinova

Albina Gimaletdinova

Uliana Polevikova

Uliana Polevikova

Ilia Andreev

Ilia Andreev

Ekaterina Davydova

Ekaterina Davydova

Hsuan C.

Hsuan C.

School

National Research University Higher School of Economics

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Professor

Ekaterina Ivanova

Ekaterina Ivanova

Innovation

The main goal of Svalka.me is to collect unnecessary things, give them a second life and prevent environmental pollution. Couriers collect unnecessary items, old clothes, furniture, appliances, etc. for free from an address (apartment, warehouse or office) and transport them to the sorting station. This is the first service that Svalka.me offers.

Subsequently, all things are cleaned and hung out in the store. Some items are bought by movie producers, others are sent to the showrooms, some are processed for recycling, and some are sold as second-hand. Among the rubbish collected from Moscow apartments, it is common to come across valuable antiques. From here came an additional service - the search for specific things for customers. Furthermore, a person can leave their own wish list on the Svalka.me website, and when the item is found, the employees will inform the client about this.

Furniture and old electronics, which cannot be restored, are put in the “Debosh” area. Debosh is a separate service, a room, where you can leave items and then proceed to crush them with a hammer. Whole living rooms or office rooms are assembled from things that cannot be sold, where everything can be broken. The founders themselves call Debosh entertainment for the dark side of a mankind. You can indulge in a passion for destruction alone for 2,500 rubles or in the company of friends for as little as 8,000 rubles to up to 15,000 rubles. In June 2016, Debosh was taken to the Moscow Geek Picnic festival, it was a huge success as there was a long queue during the entire event.

If you have a bunch of unnecessary things, and you don’t want to give it to someone, you either throw it in the trash which pollutes the nature or sell it on Avito, which is a quite long and expensive process or, that is where we come in. You can turn to us, call us, write us on any social network and our call center will contact you, agree on the time when our courier will arrive at your home and he will take everything that you do not need. Before the sale, all things are cleaned. We have the so-called Plazmogan, this is a kind of gun where a solution is poured. This allows us to kill all the harmful bacteria. But for humans, it is completely safe. It does not matter what it will be used: clothes, books, and so on”, - says Tatyana, the owner of the business.

Giving a Second Life to Stuff

Inspiration

Initially, the business was born as a solution to a problem the founders were facing themselves. When founders of the business were moving between offices they discovered that there was a bunch of unnecessary things that they did not know how and where to dispose. Such items were the ones they did not use since a long time but did want not throw away. It was necessary to quickly get rid of the bicycle, old books, tools, clothes. So the couple began to look for a service that would help to do this. “We thought it is a XXI century! Is there really no such thing in Moscow? We realized that in reality there was not” , the founder Alexei recalls. “I had to deal with unnecessary things in the traditional way - to place ads on Avito, but it is quite energy-consuming. I had to photograph every item, post it on the website, communicate and meet with potential buyers”. After realizing this gap in the market, the discussion of the business flea market project began.

In September 2015, the business founder Irina Barinskaya announced on her Facebook: "We will get rid of your old things!" In just a few days, the number of reposts increased to 4000. On the first day of their operations, Svalka received about 150 applications for export, in a week - more than a thousand. After a couple of weeks, the number of requests rose to 3,000. At the first stages, the founders Irina Barinskaya and Alexei Ukhanov were helped by their friends. Then they began to hire employees who shared their ideology. “We have wonderful staff here. They are also part-time models. Basically, the guys are our former clients who came to us. They just like us, are passionate about this ideology. They are proud of what they do. Plus, there is such a big space for creativity ”, Tatyana, the owner of the store, told us.

Overall impact

The entire business model of the company was built based on the concept of conscious consumption. “After the courier picks up your things, he brings them here to the warehouse. In the warehouse we have wonderful employees who disassemble, process, mark all this. Then things go to the warehouse. In the warehouse we have two floors. On the ground floor we have more expensive things that have value. Here, mainly, these are books, clothes. Further are utensils and appliances. We check the equipment, but, unfortunately, we can not answer for the performance, because they come to us in this form and we have no way to repair them. However, we warn the customers. Moreover, you have the opportunity to see old cars or even mirrors from 1921 or Soviet chairs. On the second floor we have even more clothes, shoes, books and another attraction, it is called "PUNCH", where you can break everything. Here is a showcase, mostly female, the boys are less likely to buy or rent. ”, said Tatyana during our interview with her.

Business benefit

Our model is built so that if at least 60% of things are suitable for sale, then we earn, but we have never had less than 80%,” explains Alexey Barinsky, founder. The annual revenue of the company is 33 million rubles (about 520,000 $ or 470,000 €. The most profitable way is to sell clothes as we can reach 700% profit. The average monthly revenue of the Debosh attraction is 300,000 rubles. Business is developing and does not stand still. “Nobody had done anything like this like us, so it was impossible to spy on someone's ideas and gain experience,” the founders of the service say. During their work, they used many ways to earn money: they sent trucks to the regions, worked directly with decorators and costumers (for movies, theaters for example), sold Christmas decorations by weight or arranged flea markets and festivals. Landfill owners have agreed to partner with PickPoint’s postal network. As the founder of PickPoint, Nadezhda Romanova, explains, the company is developing a reverse logistics service for customer returns, and this model is suitable for the Landfill: 450 out of 800 PickPoints will participate in collecting unnecessary items.

This business is scalable and replicable. In the summer of 2016, Dump opened franchise offices in St. Petersburg, Krasnodar, Yekaterinburg and Tomsk. In 2018, the service was tested in 11 Russian cities. “The business is scalable. We have earned franchises and there are few stores in the country. There are three stores in Moscow now. This is the largest, there is also a warehouse. And "PUNCH" is here. It is three in one: service, shops, entertainment. Because if you raise your head, the projector is above you, here lectures are held. There are shops in the center of Moscow, and one more near Gorky Park. There is a store in St. Petersburg with service, there is Kazan, there is Krasnoyarsk. Irkutsk, Kazan, Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, also Tel Aviv. So there are many of us, it turns out,” said the owner.

Social and environmental benefit

Svalka brings profit to owners and creates a positive impact on society and the environment. “For this we, in fact, are working, rather, not for profit here, believe me. If we were here for profit, everything would have looked different here. We are committed not to pollute the environment and we all went over from the fact that we abandoned plastic bags. Even the employees themselves bring in things, buy stuff and recycle with the cooperation of designers. Everything related to the eco-theme and conscious consumption, we are completely in it”, recalls Tatyana. “I want people to know this ideology, not only young people, but also people from business and politics, so that it affects all layers,” explains Tatyana, the store owner.

All team members from the founders to the leaders share the ideology and mission of the company and implement changes in their personal lives. “For example, I have a T-shirt, I look at it and understand that I would not wear it, I will then hand it over here and the shirt will definitely find its second home. It will not be thrown into the trash and will not clog the nature. People have the opinion that it is better to store stuff at the balconies, and let them stand, fade, and then they will be thrown away anyway. This is so hard to explain. But I introduced this in my family, for example. For a very long time I explained to my relatives why this should be done, why it is good. Why I do not want money for this, for example. That it is just a help to nature and, in general, just to get rid of unnecessary stuff. Because when we began to dig into these problems, for example, for the production of a new T-shirt, you need several hundred liters of clean drinking water. And you understand the scale of what is happening, and this is every day somewhere in Pakistan. For instance, the Zara T-shirt you buy is made in Bangladesh, and people there starve to death or suffer from the drought there. Well, it is just a nightmare. Another example is that we refuse to drink from coffee cups. Instead, we go with thermoses, we also collect water in thermoses, I call them “drinking bowls,” concludes Tatyana.

Basically, Svalka is deeply engaged in “upcycling”. Indeed, Svalka reuses discarded objects or material in such a way to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. The company operates as a social entrepreneur. 70% of its net profits are directed to support social projects.

Interview

Tatyana Sorochinskaya, Owner, Founder

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Svalka.me

Svalka.me

Moscow, RU

Business Website: https://svalka.me/ru/

Year Founded: 2015

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Svalka.me was founded in 2015 in Moscow by Irina Barinskaya and Alexei Ukhanov. The company offers the service of picking up items, such as goods which are no longer wanted by their owners at a specified address. The products are then refurbished, cleaned and sold at the physical store. Currently there are 6 stores in 4 different cities in Russia.