Unless you’re comedian George Carlin doing your famous schtick about “stuff,” there’s no joking about the glut of merchandise plaguing the fashion industry. Yes, pandemic spending and supply chain improvements got goods flowing again, but recession-worried consumers have been tapping the brakes on spending, causing inventory pile-ups and signaling a worrisome holiday season.
Brands, wholesalers and retailers that optimistically over-produced and over-ordered usually have two choices for getting rid of excess inventory: they can offload unsold goods to off-price liquidators at a steep discount or they can donate them to a worthy cause. “Broker for good” The Charity Hub liquidates for a cause, offering a hybrid option.
“TCH monetizes the excess inventory, and then we donate 50 percent of our net profits to a charity of the suppliers’ choice,” said Mara Perlmutter, a fashion and accessories industry veteran and senior advisor at The Charity Hub. Underscoring the company’s serendipitous timing amid rising inventory challenges, Perlmutter notes the 18-month-old company is “far ahead” of plan, having donated $250,000 to charities in the first 6 months of business against a plan of $100,000.
Even the most successful companies have inventory challenges, ranging from tied-up cash flow, unnecessary warehouse, insurance and overhead costs, expensive maintenance of inventory, and volatility and uncertainty of supply chain. The key is finding the best method to move merch.
Everyone already knows the TJX’s and Burlington’s of the world, but there’s only so much space those retailers have to sell merchandise. Brands and retailers, however, might not know lesser-known resources around the world, from off-price outlets to resorts that can sell summer goods in the off-season. A Canadian-based company, TCH has built networks in Canada as well as Mexico, the Caribbean and other locations, Perlmutter said.
Once merchandise is funneled to suitable outlets to be sold and the “for-profit” part is sorted, TCH then works to pair up brands and retailers with charities to receive donations from TCH’s proceeds.
“Many less-developed [brands and retailers] haven’t gotten to the point where they started a foundation on their own, and we have relationships with many charities,” said Perlmutter. “We recently helped a company unload unsold baby bottles, then used the donation money to help build a playground and two classrooms in a school in Uganda via the organization Trek for Change. Other initiatives included helping bring clean drinking water to communities in need.
In a letter from Trek for Change, founder Preston Dyer thanked TCH for its work. “There is so much to celebrate as this story continues to unfold and we are very thankful for the generosity and support The Charity Hub has offered to impact the lives of many which will flow through the generations to come,” he said.
In addition to doing good for unserved communities around the globe, TCH touts its ability to help the planet by keeping goods out of landfills, both issues that are increasingly resonating with consumers. Companies can tout such initiatives on CSR and ESG reports as well.