Published on august 21, 2017

Behind the Polka Dot: How We Opened Our Second Smart Store in 30 Days!

written by Team thredUP


We did it!! For those of us working on the online team for many years, this was a very proud moment. While most retail stores open with a physical brick-and-mortar location and then go online, we did it the other way around. Last Thursday was the grand opening of our second retail store in Walnut Creek, CA (our first store opened in San Marcos, TX last month) and we welcomed the Bay Area community to share this special moment with us. It was pretty amazing to have a real life polka-dot party!

Here, we sat down with Tina Lamb, Walnut Creek’s fearless retail store manager, to get her thoughts on everything from what makes a smart store to why she thinks secondhand first. Enjoy all the videos and pics and PLEASE PLEASE, if you’re in the neighborhood, pop in and let us know what you think. See you there!

Our new home in the Broadway Pointe shopping center in downtown Walnut Creek. Come visit!

Tell us a bit about this location in Walnut Creek:
There is a good mix of young professionals and families. This community is very connected and takes pride in keeping their community connected. We’re across the street from Neiman Marcus and next to Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn. Very good company.

What makes a thredUP retail store smart?
We cater to local trends and use what knowledge we have around how our customers shop to make the store as appealing as possible! Since we’re close to our distribution center, we assess our inventory every day. We find out which brand or category we need more of and then it’s in the store the next day.

The newest arrivals fresh on the rack at the front of the store.

What it was like to open a store in 30 days?
It was challenging and lots of fun! Since we’re a tech start-up our intention was never to open a perfect store on day one. We wanted to get the store open and begin to learn more about the community and the local customer and then have the ability to adjust based on what we are seeing in the local trends that might differ from what the data on the site has told us.

What are the top local trends you are seeing in Walnut Creek?
Women in Walnut Creek tend to dress casually during the day, but can get pretty fancy in the evening. We are stocking tons of awesome activewear because our store is really close to five hiking trails and lots of yoga and pilates studios. We know our current online customers in Walnut Creek love buying sweaters and handbags more than our average customers so we are stocking this store with lots of like-new sweaters and an incredible handbag department.

A fun boho section of the store—perfect for summer music festivals.

Do you have any tips and tricks for shopping at thredUP stores vs. online?
Have one of our real-life stylists assist you in putting together that perfect outfit or directing you to those hidden treasures. Also, don’t just try on what you think is your “normal” size. Try on a size up and a size down as you never know how each brand will fit! Take advantage of setting up an account with us so that our staff can reach out to you and set new arrivals aside for you.

What do you love most about working for thredUP?
I love that we are always thinking ahead and putting the customer first while helping our environment.

How would you describe thredUP in 5 words in less?
Shopping made fun and easy!


What styles are you most excited about for fall?
Glitter and pant suits because it channels my inner Bowie!

How would you describe the aesthetic of the store?
This location is more of a boutique shopping experience. When you walk in, it might take you awhile before you realize you are shopping secondhand because of the like-new styles, the way it’s displayed, and the level of customer service. It feels like a high-end consignment store (but without the high-end prices!).

The store design was inspired by “her dream closet.”  Bright white, clean modern design with a comfortable seating area in the center of the store. All of the shelving and fixtures were designed with personal closets in mind. We want you to feel at home.

Pink is big for us in Walnut Creek. 900 pink styles plus this amazing pink comfy couch from Houszz.

What are you most excited about the store opening?
I’m so excited about getting to learn about who our in-store customer is. thredUP is giving our customers a unique opportunity to help shape future thredUP stores. It’s exciting that we are bucking the trend in retail when you are seeing so many companies closing.

From far left: Bri Foster (Store experience coordinator), Stefanie Gelb (Shopper Insights Manager), Elli Murch (Supervisor), Kayla Durham ( Assistant Store Manger), Tina Lamb (Store Manager), Jenn Chen (Key holder), Ricalyn Caguiat (HR business Partner). That’s James, our CEO, on the far right!

Why do you think secondhand first?
We tend to be a throwaway culture. I prefer to thrift because I know what I’m looking for is probably available secondhand and at a lower cost. I feel good about helping the environment and saving some money in the process. We also all love having our own unique style and personality in what we wear. thredUP allows us to do that as no two items are the same and we can be certain we aren’t going to wear matching dresses to that next special event. 

Kind of our favorite sentiment.

Be sure to add Walnut Creek to the list of your best bay area thrift stores. Look out for future posts, where we’ll reveal our newest locations (three more coming this year!). Want a thredUP thrift store in your town? Let us know where in the comments!