Two reuse centers in the Kansas City metro area are currently beta testing InvenQuery’s technology platform. “If you ask 10 people, maybe two have heard of a ReStore or what a reuse center is,” said Brian Alferman, Director of the Kansas City, Missouri Habitat for Humanity ReStores®. “This technology should help us drastically improve awareness of our store and the flow of unique items we have here at any given time. Given the early efficiencies we’ve seen already — attracting new customers, preventing price tampering, having new reporting and point-of-sale tools — the system should pay for itself before the marketing even kicks in. To compete with big-box stores we need technology, and now we’re headed down the right path.”
Reuse centers have been called “thrift stores for building materials.” The roughly 1,200 for-profit and non-profit reuse organizations in the U.S accept donations of used and surplus building materials then resell the donated items to the public at 40-60% off the price of new. Currently, the industry is growing nearly 20% per year, yet sells and markets less than 5% of total inventory online.
Reuse center staff use InvenQuery’s mobile application to enter items into inventory which also populates an online storefront instantly in a single workflow. At point-of-sale, items are automatically removed from both the storefront and inventory system. Powered by InvenQuery, PlanetReuse Marketplace is the web site that hosts live, real-time inventory from all participating reuse centers nationwide.
“Making e-commerce and inventory management simple for an industry that has historically lacked technology tools will transform the way people shop for used building materials,” says Dundee Venture Capital Founder Mark Hasebroock. “We see tremendous potential in InvenQuery for retailers of unique items.”
The idea is simple and the results could be revolutionary: millions more pounds of usable surplus materials kept out of local landfills. A stark contrast to the nearly 40% of U.S. landfill waste that comes from building construction and demolition waste today. Plus more profits are generated for the social missions of non-profit reuse centers. If HDTV, Pinterest and the $250 Billion per year Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (Lohas) U.S. consumer segment are any indication, reuse is one trend that will last.
“We are thrilled to partner with Dundee Venture Capital,” said InvenQuery Founder Nathan Benjamin. “Mark Hasebroock and his team bring deep expertise in e-commerce and web services that will accelerate our success in the reuse industry and in subsequent vertical markets we are researching like surplus materials from construction and demolition projects that get lost in warehouses.”
“As more and more reuse centers use InvenQuery to showcase their inventory live online on PlanetReuse Marketplace, the $250 Million reuse industry will become more top-of-mind and ultimately an easy alternative to explore before buying new materials through the $110 Billion new material home improvement industry,” said InvenQuery partner Willow Lundgren.
Along with the angel investment and Series A funding, PlanetReuse Marketplace was also recently awarded a $250,000 Chase/Living Social “Mission: Small Business” grant, was named one of “America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs of 2012” by Bloomberg Businessweek and took home the top prize at the SXSW Eco Startup Showcase.
About Dundee Venture Capital
Dundee Venture Capital, based in Omaha, Nebraska, invests in early- and growth-stage companies nationwide. Founded by entrepreneur and former investment and commercial banker Mark Hasebroock, Dundee Venture Capital focuses on scalable e-commerce businesses and web services.
InvenQuery is a technology company that offers an all-in-one inventory, point-of-sale and e-commerce solution for retailers of unique items.
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