How Two Former Student Waiters Launched One Of SA’s Thriving Pre-Owned Luxury Goods Resellers

After a friend had a bad experience reselling her luxury items online, this duo thought of creating an online platform to resell pre-owned luxury goods with stronger safety features in place. Six years later, their business has gained success and now operates in three prominent malls in South Africa.

Cofounders of Luxity, Michael Zahariev and Luke Calitz, visited a friend who got scammed while trying to sell her luxury handbags online.

Owners of Luxity Michael Zahariev (left) and Luke

Their business sells preowned bags, shoes, clothing, and accessories from high-end luxury brands at 60% to 85% of the original retail price, and about 30% above retail price for limited edition goods.

Today the duo operate in three prominent malls – Nelson Mandela Square, Cape Quarter, and Menlyn Maine –  having expanded from their online platform a year after launching. During the 2021/2022 financial year the company recorded an 86% increase in growth, and since the start of the pandemic, Luxity has seen a 190% spike.


Born for business

This was not the first company the pair had ventured into. During their days as waiters, while simultaneously studying computer science and marketing respectively, they wanted to create a business that would boost their income.

They started off by creating B Online, a full spectrum digital agency that was formalised after the entrepreneurial duo offered restaurants social media and website development services. The business is still thriving. 

The pair moved on to launch ReMe, a universal loyalty programme app that would negate the need for multiple loyalty cards from different retailers, allowing users to earn points. But it wasn’t feasible because retailers have different point of sale systems.

ReMe was followed by another venture called HiCarByeCar, which was a sales platform designed to assist car sellers in securing the best price when selling to dealers. Despite initial success, a competitor with more funding proved more powerful.

Although their previous business ventures didn’t work out, the entrepreneurs gained knowledge that taught them valuable lessons which they carried into the Luxity business.

Rolex Watch from Luxity (Supplied)

“When we got to Luxity, we still wanted to innovate but we wanted to do it at a pace where we could innovate slowly, do our research and we weren’t going to take on too much money from external investors that put external pressures on us.

“We did it more organically while also doing research. There were a lot of failures in the past that taught us how to run a successful business,” Zahariev said.

Expanding to brick-and-mortar

A year after operating online, a lot of customers requested that the business include an online store as they wanted to see and fit some of the products before making such a large purchase, but getting a physical store wasn’t easy.

“An e-commerce store anyone can open, there aren’t many barriers to entry. What we struggled with originally was getting into the malls, especially name brand malls. They didn’t want to have pre-owned items,” said Zahariev.

Nelson Mandela Square

The first mall they got into was Melrose Arch, and it wasn’t easy. When the pandemic affected mall greatly, the duo took advantage expanded heir footprint to Sandton City and Menlyn Maine.

“Actually, the pandemic helped us. We knew that malls were struggling, and we had quite a decent reputation at that stage after being there [Melrose Arch] for three years, so that was a great opportunity for us to approach other malls.

“That’s what helped us to get into Sandton City and Menlyn Maine which we had been trying to get into for two to three years prior and they didn’t want us,” Zahariev told Business Insider South Africa.

Gucci Sneakers

Establishing themselves in such big malls helped the company rebrand preowned luxury items as an everyday part of people’s lives and to also buy sustainably, helping the environment. This has also helped eliminate the stigma previously attached to buying pre-owned items.

“Authenticity is the pillar the company was built on. You can rest assured that when you bring in a Louise Vuitton or a Chanel bag, or a Rolex watch, we have stringent processes that make sure that that item is 100% authentic,” Calitz said.

The company also ensures that customers experience premium personal service they would expect from any other luxury store.

And to enhance the experience, the Sandton flagship store has a fully catered bar with a champagne and chocolate lounge for customers to enjoy while shopping.

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