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braidThe ‘collaborative economy’ "offers a new avenue for the middle class to create wealth and savings," writes Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times (12/22/13). The collaborative economy is based on "a peer-to-peer marketplace" in which people can buy and sell "their belongings and their time in ways that weren’t previously possible." Tracy DiNunzio, founder of, has catapulted this concept into a business with 22 employees and "1.5 million customers every month." She’s far from alone in this, and first got started in 2009 with a venture called Recycled Bride, "which enabled couples to" sell off their wedding gear and help pay for their big day.

Tracy was inspired by her own "rapid-fire wedding and divorce," and ultimately expanded the concept "into Tradesy, which enables women to monetize the used or unused clothing and accessories in their closets." Tradesy takes "a 9 percent commission." She still has a wedding section on the site, and says she’s "seen three brides wear the same dress." The first purchased the Vera Wang dress for $8,000, and sold it for $3,000. The second sold it again for $3,000 – meaning she got her wedding "dress for free." Tracy also points out that because her inventory is crowdsourced, it is massive.

"Tradesy has accumulated $97.5 million in inventory, at virtually no cost to our business, in 13 months," says Tracy. She also notes that the concept has changed her view of "durable goods … as temporal objects to enjoy and pass on rather than ‘belongings’ … I get access to goods and services that would typically be beyond my means, without accumulating a ton of stuff." She says this doesn’t hurt traditional retailers, pointing to Tradesy’s own data showing that "customers actually spend more at retail when they feel confident there’s a viable resale opportunity on the secondary market."