Between the ill-fitting clothes, unwanted gadgets or duplicate toys, there’s always returns following the season of giving.
In fact, every year, billions of dollars in products are returned, which means a massive amount of consumer waste, as many of these returns aren’t actually in sellable condition.
But a B.C.-based retail business has developed an eco-friendly solution to the problem of consumer returns.
Big Box Outlet Store is a chain of 12 retail locations in B.C., including Vernon, and another three in the USA that sells new, unwanted customer returns from all the major big box chains and online retailers.
And the Vernon location boasts the third largest store in the company.
Debra Teigland manages the 24th Street store, which was previously an MTF Warehouse, and she says the growth at the store reflects that of the community.
“I feel Vernon’s growing,” said Teigland, who started as a cashier working one day a week.
“We’re actually getting a lot of new customers. Our customer count is up daily.”
For many, it’s a deal they are seeking, or a particular name-brand, as Big Box re-sells products that are out of box or with minor packaging issues that would otherwise head to the landfill. They specialize in recovering and restoring packaging and products, to rescue and resell items that would otherwise be discarded by the major big box chain stores. This business model is called reverse logistics as they’ve developed a model to solve the problem of returns.
And the amount that comes in is massive.
“We usually get a truck once a week, but we’re taking six to seven trucks a month,” said Teigland.
“We’ve become so busy that we can take two trucks a week.”
And even for the staff of 12 at the Vernon store, it’s exciting to see the new items come in.
“Each truck for us is just like Christmas because we’re going, ‘What’s on it?’”
With Christmas returns taking place at big box stores after the holidays, Big Box Outlet will also be busy.
“It will probably be hitting our stores within a couple weeks,” said Teigland.