Constantly looking for your next great piece of furniture but hate paying new-furniture prices? Whether you’re looking for a new desk, bunk beds for the kiddos or a pull-out couch for guests, you’ve likely turned to platforms like Facebook Marketplace to find great deals on gently-used furniture in your area.
But is there a better way? Kaiyo likes to think so. Here’s everything you need to know about this newcomer on the used furniture scene. You’ll never look at your local thrift shops the same way again.
What is Kaiyo?
Kaiyo is a pretty new brand, especially if you don’t live in the company’s home base of New York City, where you might’ve spotted a bright yellow Kaiyo van making deliveries over the past few years.
Kaiyo originally got its start in 2015, according to TechCrunch, after the founder, Alpay Koralturk, and his wife moved five times in five years and tried to buy secondhand furniture but found the process frustrating.
Originally, Kaiyo was a rental service (known as Furnishare), but now it’s a marketplace where users can buy and sell pre-owned, environmentally-friendly furniture from top brands such as West Elm and Room & Board. Delivery takes place in just a few days, courtesy of Kaiyo’s free pickup, photography, storage and delivery services; Kaiyo also provides professional cleaning and storing during the process. Sellers can cash out their money as soon as an offer for their item comes in.
As of earlier this year (2022), Kaiyo received $36 million in Series B funding, for a total of $50 million total funds raised, to help the brand stretch its legs and expand across the country, with its eye on taking over the West Coast. As it stands, Kaiyo has hundreds of thousands of users and more than 160 employees. Kaiyo also says it has kept nearly 3 million pounds of furniture out of landfills over the last seven years.
What are the Benefits and Downsides of Using Kaiyo?
As mentioned, Kaiyo does a lot of the hard work for you, the seller. They pick up your goods, do all the photography work and, more or less, handle all the selling part of the actual selling. All you really have to do is have something to sell.
But that’s where one of the big downsides to this online marketplace comes in (at least on the seller side; it’s not really a bad thing on the buyer end). You don’t just need to have something to sell in order to be able to use Kaiyo. You have to have something worth selling.
Like many secondhand online marketplaces, especially those designed to offer luxury goods, like Poshmark, Kaiyo isn’t really connecting sellers and buyers. Instead, Kaiyo takes your furniture and then flips it to buyers who buy directly from Kaiyo rather than you, the past owner.
Here’s how it works. You fill out a form and tell Kaiyo about whatever it is you want to sell and then submit a few of your own photos. Then, Kaiyo will get back to you in one business day and let you know if they want to take the item off your hands. If not, you’re out of luck and have to go back to Craigslist. If, though, the team deems your secondhand furniture worthy, then you’ll arrange for someone to pick up the item.
The item is taken to storage, cleaned, professionally photographed and then listed for sale. But you’re not part of that process. Your job is done — but you don’t have your money just yet. Kaiyo uses its algorithm to decide what to push and how to price pieces. When Kaiyo ends up selling your piece, then you’ll get your money: to the tune of a maximum of 60% of whatever Kaiyo sold the piece for.
So, you do get a lot of the hassle taken off you as the seller — no more meeting up in sketchy parking lots to get rid of an armchair with a cigarette burn in the cushion — but you also lose a lot of the control. You can’t haggle with a buyer for the best price; you’re just stuck with whatever Kaiyo is willing to give you.
On the buyer side of things, you get access to a wide array of high-quality, used furniture at prices of up to 90% off retail. However, if you’re looking for the best deal possible and not necessarily the nicest items out there, you might have better luck sticking to traditional thrifting or just perusing the items on Facebook Marketplace.
Another buyer downside? Kaiyo has strict minimum-order policies in place that determine whether or not you’ll actually qualify for delivery or shipping or if you’ll have to go to a Kaiyo warehouse and actually pick up your purchase (warehouses are located in New Jersey, Maryland and California). You’ll need to place a minimum order of $250 if you live in an East Coast metro or Los Angeles in order to qualify for delivery, or a minimum order of $350 if you live elsewhere.
Are the Downsides of Kaiyo Worth the Sustainability?
However, the downsides aside, are these cons to the process worth it if it means a greater, more sustainable way of furnishing homes?
Sustainability is at the heart of everything Kaiyo does. It influenced the founder’s decision to create the brand in the first place, and the company operates under the idea that if they make selling and buying high-quality used furniture as easy as possible, people are way more likely to do it — keeping furniture out of landfills.
Additionally, the brand plants a tree through the National Forest Foundation for every completed order. Kaiyo also aims to become carbon negative by 2029, meaning that it would take more carbon out of the atmosphere than it added to it by mere existence.
But What Do the People Say?
So what do the people who’ve actually used Kaiyo say about this service?
A quick scroll through the brand’s Better Business Bureau page shows a few trends. It seems that the notification system for sellers is lackluster at best. Sellers hand over their furniture to Kaiyo but then are never told when it sells via an email or other notification.
While this would be fine if the seller still received their money, the seller must submit a form to cash out and receive payment — meaning if they never know an item sold, they might never submit that form, leaving Kaiyo with free money until the seller figures things out. Additionally, it looks like Kaiyo pays its sellers via a third-party provider, who mails out checks within 30 days of the sale, so getting your money isn’t quite that quick of a process.
While most of the reviews on the brand’s Better Business Bureau page appear to be from sellers, if you look at the company’s Yelp reviews, you’ll find more information regarding the buying process and what real-life people think. There, the reviews seem to be more half and half, positive and negative.
Many buyers say the delivery professionals were very nice and did a great job. Others talk about how convenient it is to set up a delivery window, as well as how nice it is to be able to buy secondhand furniture without all of the back and forth that normally occurs when buying a piece from just a random stranger on the internet.
Poor Yelp reviews talk about issues such as lost orders, damaged orders and poor customer service. It does appear, however, that the founder replies to every bad review, though the replies look to be very similar and stock in nature.
Have more questions about this unique online marketplace? We’ve got answers.
Where does Kaiyo buy and deliver?
This brand started on the East Coast in New York City, but it has been spreading its reach across the country. Currently, Kaiyo offers its standard white-glove pickup and delivery services to homes in New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., as well as those cities’ metro areas.
However, if you live elsewhere, you can get delivery via third-party network carriers. You also have the option to pick up items if you’re located near a Kaiyo warehouse in Teterboro, New Jersey; Hyattsville, Maryland; or Chino, California.
How much does Kaiyo delivery cost?
Delivery fees depend on whether you’re using Kaito’s white-glove delivery service or if you’re getting delivery via a third-party partner. Third-party delivery requires orders of $350 or more, and the delivery partner determines the shipping cost. Delivery fees for white-glove delivery service starts at $19 for small items, $29 for mid-sized items and $39 for large items. A $250 minimum order is required for delivery services.
What condition can I expect my Kaiyo furniture to be in?
Kaiyo separates its furniture into a few different condition categories. “Like new” furniture shows virtually no wear or tear and is near-perfect. “Excellent” furniture shows minimal stains or wear and tear. “Gently-used” furniture shows minor deters, tears or nicks. “Fair” furniture has noticeable stains, tears or defects. “Salvage” furniture may require repair.
Does Kaiyo allow returns?
Kaiyo does not allow returns once you’ve accepted delivery of an item or picked it up from a Kaiyo warehouse.
What kind of furniture does Kaiyo sell?
Kaiyo sells a wide range of pre-owned furniture, from loveseats to wall art, office chairs to coffee tables. When you’re shopping on the Kaiyo website, you can search by furniture type, price, condition, dimensions, brands and more.
There are a few items that Kaiyo will not take and will not sell. These include disassembled furniture, fast furniture, fragile furniture, cribs and changing tables, household appliances, mattresses and bedding, electronics, select sleeper sofas, oversized items like bunk beds and wall-mounted items, among others.
Does Kaiyo own my furniture?
Kaiyo owns your furniture once it picks it up, technically, under the brand’s provision agreement, even though you will not receive any money for your sale until Kaiyo sells the piece to a buyer. If the Kaiyo team decides to “retire” your item because it cannot be sold, they will contact you and give you the option to pick it up at a warehouse.
How much will I get paid from a Kaiyo sale?
How much Kaiyo pays you when your furniture sells will depend on how much they sell your item for. The percentage of the sale price that you get can range from 10% to 60%, with the 10% applying to items that sell for under $100 and the 60% applying to items that sell for more than $3,000.
Who is Kaiyo Right For?
So, all of the pros and cons and reviews aside, who is Kaiyo right for?
Kaiyo is best for those shoppers who want to find discounted, high-quality, good-condition and cleaned, secondhand furniture from top brands and who live in one of Kaiyo’s white-glove delivery service areas (so New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Baltimore or Washington, D.C.).
As for sellers, Kaiyo is best for those sellers who literally just want the most convenient option possible, those who have high-end, trendy furniture to sell, and those who don’t care so much about getting the most money for their items. It’s all about the convenience factor here, in terms of seller perks.
For both buyers and sellers, Kaiyo is a good fit if you’re looking to make the furniture ecosystem more sustainable or looking to cultivate a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle.
A New Way to Thrift?
Kaiyo certainly upgrades the secondhand furniture buying process beyond what you can expect on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. However, it’s not perfect. Deciding whether it’s right for your next buying or selling experience all depends on your priorities. Looking for great deals and easy delivery, or extra convenience when selling? Then Kaiyo.com might just be right for you.
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