Who cares if you can’t go out like before in the middle of a pandemic! How about trying to take in some positive energy by revamping your space? Maybe not entirely, but it might very well be time to finally get rid of a piece that bogged you down emotionally last year. If for you it's a ‘vintage’ bookshelf that only continues to stay standing by the grace of God, look to the curb. But if it's a nicer piece that you're just sick of looking at, or you've been wanting to upgrade, or even a thing you bought new that just doesn't work the way you want it to, there's always the resale market. Sure, you could take the item to your neighborhood, but it's even easier to post it on one of the few digital furniture selling sites that are continually cropping up to service this exact scenario. Also, one can buy used furniture or home decor pieces from these websites if they go with their taste. There are some tricks to make this work very smoothly, and I am here to guide you on that…
It was only recently, that I happened to stumble across this very interesting website by the name of SoUnique. Intrigued, I browsed through it and to my utter delight discovered this treasure-trove with so much to offer. It is a web-based marketplace which helps people who are looking to part with their gently used furniture and home decor pieces to sell online from the comfort of their homes and with complete anonymity. At the same time, it helps people who are in the market to buy some unique pieces coming out of other people’s homes.
The talented Fiza Amjad Khan and Laila Odho Premjee came up with this unique idea which took the online market by storm. “We have now expanded our marketplace to include brand new products from home-based designers and vendors as well,” apprises Fiza.
Talking about their venture, Fiza says, “The idea of an online marketplace, while new in Pakistan, has a huge market abroad and takes its origin from flea markets all over the world which essentially sell used goods of all kinds. Trying to sell our used but expensive furniture through the usual second hand shops in Karachi was a disappointing experience. We got pittance out of it and at the same time we didn’t want strangers walking through our house - it didn’t feel very secure. This triggered the idea of this online service.”
Once the idea had taken seed, Fiza and Laila got down to finding the perfect name. “While going through a dozen names Laila came up with SoUnique. We figured that the idea itself was unique in Pakistan, hence the name,” shares the entrepreneur.
The website has something to suit every pocket and style, from budget friendly and expensive to vintage and contemporary. “Our listings range from heavy furniture such as beds and dining tables to art and delicate crystal decor pieces. Carpets, chandeliers, crockery, mirrors and antiques - you name it and we have it. Anything which is needed in your house except for electronics,” they inform.
Curious as to how the business helps the client, Fiza explains, “What we do for sellers and buyers is essentially hassle-free, end-to-end transaction with complete anonymity. For sellers we list, inspect, market, and pick up the product once it’s sold for an onward delivery to the buyers. As for buyer we collect enough information so that they can be comfortable with their purchase. There is complete anonymity for buyers and sellers.”
If we talk about other similar platforms, there aren’t many. “A huge company which is a marketplace also comes somewhat close but is vastly different from ours. There are pages on social media platform, however, we are an end-to-end service provider which no one else in Pakistan is currently doing. Every day there is something new and challenging. These challenges help us to transform our business to cater to the needs of a unique market of Pakistan and with the market slowly moving from brick and mortar to online, the whole experience has been interesting thus far,” elucidates Fiza.
“We now have brand new products from designers/vendors listed on our website to allow an option of new products for buyers. Hence, it’s slowly moving into a direction of a furniture integrator. We are inspecting which makes it a completely transparent transaction. Also, we market our listed products on our Facebook page and on Instagram. Also, we pick up and deliver stuff safely to our clients,” she adds.
“As far as buyers are concerned, we have had an amazing response. There are plenty out there but we often face challenge with our sellers. In order to solve that we provide listing service by appointment if the seller has 5 or more items to sell. This was, however, pre-pandemic. We have changed that slightly, following safety protocols, to now listing for them through phone. You call us, send us the pictures, we ask you for details and list your products for you,” elaborates Fiza.
When asked to share some memorable experience, Fiza interjects, “There are so many that we can recall, however, one that stands out the most was when we had a huge order in our initial months for several products and the buyer was from Hyderabad. The trust exhibited by her in us and the patience she showed while we figured out intercity delivery (we were at the time only operating in Karachi) was such an encouraging experience that it made it worthwhile for us to carry on with our business. This particular transaction also emboldened us to open up delivery nationwide from Karachi.”
Future plans for this site includes “Expansion to all major cities across Pakistan. We have already been shipping products to other cities from Karachi but are now looking to open up our website very soon for sellers in other cities,” concludes Fiza.