Moms

ShopOff’s virtual tools make deals real for savvy Charlotte shoppers

For those who love consignment finds, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of going into a resale store, checking out the goods, and then walking away with something that you need for a great price. Unfortunately, it’s often a daunting task to find what you want in a timely manner – locating that perfect item can be like looking for a needle in a home goods haystack. Especially in the age of online shopping it’s hard to reconcile the time spent searching out resale deals with other shopping options that are wildly more efficient, if not as satisfying or fun.

Enter ShopOff, a cool new web app that allows consumers to see featured items that are available in resale (consignment, vintage, and thrift) stores, focusing on categories where the offline experience is typically preferred to the online one. Apparel, baby and toddler items, and furniture items, for example, are shared on the app, as well as other helpful information like sales and trunk shows. Items displayed don’t represent a comprehensive list of all of the items in each store, but rather those pieces that the stores are promoting. If you see something of interest additional features allow you to personalize your ShopOff experience: You may “Fave and Save” favorite items to your personal wish lists or style guides. You may also follow categories, brands, and stores to prompt notifications about new sales, arrivals, and events that match your interests.

With ShopOff consumers are able to peruse interesting finds online and then plan their in-person shopping accordingly. ShopOff founder and Charlotte native Zerrick Bynum notes, “We want to mimic the shopping experience that is often more about browsing and discovery versus just search.” His vision for ShopOff includes a desire to empower local small businesses to compete more effectively in the marketplace. Bynum’s father was an optometrist and small business owner, and he says that experience has always made him partial to the little guy.

Currently, ShopOff is free to both shoppers and stores; eventually retailers may be charged to participate. ShopOff is available on all devices connected to the internet, and although it will work on a desktop it was built for mobile devices. It is technically a website but the experience is similar to that with a native mobile app.

If you would like to check it out, go to www.shopoffapp.com to get started. The app is evolving; if you have feedback or suggestions, feel free to share your thoughts at zerrickb@shopoffapp.com or join the ShopOff Insiders Facebook Group (http://facebook.com/groups/shopoff.insiders) to engage in dialogue about your ShopOff experience.

Bess Kercher authors the MomsCharlotte blog "A Few Good Moms...Can You Handle the Truth?" Bess lives in Charlotte with her husband and two sons. You can read more of her writing at www.maemucho.com.

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