New DC-Based Website Snobswap Helps You Buy, Sell, and Trade Gently Used Designer Goods

Made a splurge you regret? This sister-run site has a solution.

By: Erin Williams

We've all been there. After weeks of agonizing, you finally splurge on that completely-out-of-your-budget bag/dress/pair of shoes/gold-plated whatever. But then the months crawl by, it barely leaves your closet, and you're left wondering how many hours of shuffleboard that splurge could have afforded your retired self. What's a regretful shopper to do?

Enter Snobswap. Created by sisters Elise Whang and Emily Dang, the new online marketplace is part eBay, part modern-day trading post, and gives users looking to refresh their wardrobes a few options. When posting a gently used accessory or piece of clothing on the site (accepted brands range from J.Crew to Chanel), they can sell it for a specific price, take offers from bidders, or indicate they're willing to trade with a fellow user (hence the "swap" part of the name).

"We're a tool women can use to keep their wardrobe updated. [Shoppers] can recycle their clothes or share them with other fashionistas locally and across the nation," says Whang, a former lawyer who grew up in the District with her sisters and currently resides in DC.

The idea for the site came to her a few years ago as she was searching for a pre-owned Chanel bag. With a baby on the way and the recession looming, she didn't want to pay full price for her purchase. "I found myself daydreaming, 'Why can't I just swap some of my designer bags I don't use anymore with somebody who has a gently used Chanel bag, and we can both be happy?'" she remembers. She approached her sister, who has an MBA and a background in luxury retail, with the idea, and they officially launched Snobswap in April. "This is really our hobby turned into a passion," says Dang. "We're learning new things together every day."

To make shopping easier, the site, which also carries men's and children's items, is readying to launch an iPhone app as well as a "closet concierge," a service that will take care of the listing, selling, and shipping of the items you put up for sale. For those who have decided to take the plunge and sell their items, the sisters offer these tips:

Take good pictures. "We found that pictures with a white background bring out the details [of an item] better," says Whang.

Use full disclosure. Describe what condition the item is in and whether there are any defects, "so your buyer or swapper doesn't get disappointed."

Explore your options. The sisters suggest users list items for trade, sell, and for a flat fee. "Give it as much diversity and opportunity as possible."

Know your worth. Dang also encourages sellers to research the value behind the brand of the item they are selling, which is helpful when trying to determine a price or evaluate a bid.

"People have really gotten the hang of it," says Whang of the site, which charges no membership or listing fee and only asks for a minimal seller's fee. "It's really attracted a community of people who are fashion-focused . . . who are interested in shopping and saving." The site has even caught the attention of former Real Housewife of DC Mary Amons, who is going to sell items from her famously locked closet to benefit her charity, "Labels for Love," and local consignment boutique Tari, which is using the site as its e-commerce arm. As Snobswap continues to grow, Whang says she feels she and her sister have found the right environment to grow their business. "DC is like the Silicon Valley of the East Coast," she says. "We feel right at home here."