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California Startup Helps Parents With Cleanups, Kids’ Items During Shelter-In-Place Orders

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While most of the U.S. is under “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at-home” orders due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), many have taken this extra time at home to clean out cluttered closets, organize cabinets and remove old items. One Oakland, Calif.-based startup is offering a way to help parents discard of gently-used children’s items, while making money.

Toycycle, the local mission-centered startup that helps families save money and reduce environmental waste with a full-service consignment program, announced they are offering Cleanout Boxes during California’s shelter-in-place order.

Toycycle’s mission is to create a robust reuse market for babies and kids, with a focus on high-quality clothing, top-notch toys and gear, according to its website (www.toycycle.co). The company‘s Cleanout Boxes was an idea that stemmed from demand. 

“On March 17, our operations team, which is made up of moms with young kids, had to shelter in place and we had to temporarily suspend our curbside service. But because demand for our puzzles, games, building sets and STEM toys increased dramatically, we needed to find a way to keep that inventory coming in,” says Rhonda Collins, co-founder and CEO of Toycycle.

Toycycle launched the Cleanout Boxes to allow Northern California families to ship these types of items while they are sheltered in place. Families sign up on the website and pack a medium size box with gently-used items. When it is ready to go, Toycycle emails them a shipping label and request a USPS or UPS pick-up. 

Toycycle then inspects, cleans, photographs and lists the items in its online store. When they sell, the consignor is paid. Toycycle takes measures to ensure the items are not carrying COVID-19.

“First, all the items we list in our store have been quarantined for 3-10 days in our warehouse before they are listed in our store,” says Collins. “We also clean all hard-surface items with a hydrogen peroxide cleaning solution. And team members wear latex gloves when preparing orders for shipping.”

The company accepts excellent-condition toys, games and baby gear – baby carriers, bottle warmers, like-new clothing -- anything that will fit into a medium size box that is approximately 24-by-15-by-12 inches. There is a list of items Toycycle accepts on its website.

“We don’t accept excessively worn items or products with missing parts/pieces,” says Collins. “Items that don’t meet our resale standards are donated to local charities – though at the moment, those are all closed, so we’re hanging on to them until we can donate them.”

Families can find items for babies or kids in Toycycle’s e-commerce store. From toys to diaper bags, baby food makers to mini scooters, online store products are arranged by category and are searchable. While the company offers nationwide shipping, orders from the Bay Area are typically delivered. During shelter-in-place, the company is shipping local orders, too.

Toycycle’s first product was a DIY P2P swap platform that connected families locally to swap free outgrown toys and gear. 

“Despite tremendous enthusiasm for the idea, we found that only about 20% of our members engaged in swaps,” says Collins. “Customer surveys suggested that families with young kids have very little time to handle outgrown toys and gear and that they spend a lot of money gearing up and they’d like to get something back.”

Toycycle pivoted last August to a full-service consignment model that makes the whole process of selling outgrown toys and gear convenient for sellers that also reduces risk for buyers with fully-vetted products and a customer satisfaction guarantee.

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