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HipSwap gets a bit more interactive and charitable

June 07, 2012|By Michelle Maltais
  • One new feature the stylish online peer-to-peer marketplace has launched, "Hip or Skip," lets users vote up -- or down -- selected items.
One new feature the stylish online peer-to-peer marketplace has launched,… (HipSwap )

HipSwap is aiming to get just a bit hipper and is letting users weigh in on what's hot and what's not. 

Starting Thursday, the peer-to-peer online marketplace will add a "hip or skip" feature, putting some of the curating and culling duties on the shoppers. This way, customers have sway in deciding what the hot items really are, allowing them to rank a series of selected items. Shoppers -- virtual window shoppers -- can, of course, still buy the items.

When nine or more items have been "hipped," the shopper gets a personal, curated collection to share. You can tweet it, post it on Facebook or pin it on Pinterest to let people in your circles give their two cents' worth.

The more you click online or on your phone, the more hip to your style the service gets. 

"It starts to learn what you like," Rob Kramer, founder and CEO of HipSwap, told The Times in an interview. "What we will start to do over time is create a customized marketplace."

The marketplace is certainly much more visually inviting than many other popular peer-to-peer marketplaces. As proud papa Kramer puts it:  "If Pinterest and Craigslist had a baby, it'd be HipSwap."

Among the new offerings rolling out Thursday, the HipSwap homepage will also start highlighting 24 "featured sale" items from a particular category every three or four days.

One of the cool aspects of the company when it launched its website and iPhone app at South by Southwest in March was delivery service, which is currently in Los Angeles and New York. (Really, who wants to drive too far in L.A., or anywhere in NYC, for that matter?) 

The majority of sales take place either in person or by mail, but about a quarter of the transactions in Los Angeles utilize the delivery service, Kramer said.

The company's signature mustachioed pink truck has been traveling the highways and byways of a wide swath of Los Angeles since the beginning of the year. Now it's adding another kind of pickup and drop-off to its route -- a little something for Goodwill. 

On Saturdays, Angelenos and New Yorkers can schedule the Hip Swap truck to roll by for free to pick up smaller items for donation to Goodwill. It will deliver the items for you and be sure to get you the receipt you'll need for a tax deduction later.

Right now, there's only one truck rolling from Redondo Beach to Hidden Hills. "Our intention is not to have a thousand vans out there," Kramer said. The company is in discussions with partners to begin delivery to other major cities, but he said that won't happen for at least a couple of months.

A little something new specifically for sellers is that they will now be able to list their HipSwap wares on Craigslist, with a bit more visual style and flare, to hit a much larger audience. 

With a user base that's growing at a rate of 2% a day, Kramer said, HipSwap facilitated $2 million in sales transactions earlier this year. It boasts $22 million worth of inventory listed, growing by $500,000 about every five days, he said.

In March, it was in only seven cities. Now it has expanded its reach and participation to 144 cities.

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