Sarah Abubaker doesn’t hesitate to get rid of items that aren’t useful to her anymore. Returning an item to the store is a common practice for the avid shopper.
But not everyone in her family has the same practice. “My father’s wife shops and never returns things,” she says. “My father asked me to help him return things, and I got back $350. He felt relieved the items were out of the house. He felt unburdened.”
Abubaker had an ah-ha moment when she realized almost every consumer was impacted by returns. Each year, Americans return almost $400 billion worth of merchandise, according to a 2017 survey by the National Retail Federation.
She began thinking about creating a business that would offer a service for returns. “I pitched the idea and talked to people to see if they were willing to pay someone to make returns,” she says.
She started her business, ReRunner, on a small basis. “I started with a grassroots texting service through my phone,” she says. “Customers would text me information on what they had to return and where it would be located for pickup.”
Abubaker only handles credit card returns, working with stores that don’t require a credit card be presented when an item is returned
Her company serves customers within a 35-mile radius of downtown Richmond and all major surrounding counties including Henrico, Hanover, Chesterfield, Powhatan, King William, and parts of Goochland.
The company provides return services for major retailers such as Amazon, Target, FedEx, UPS, Nordstrom, Apple, Lowes, and more.
Additionally, ReRunner has partnered with various nonprofits including Goodwill of Central Virginia and now offers pickup and delivery of clothing and small household donations. The company will send the donor a tax receipt via email or through the mobile app.
The return process is simple. Customers can sign up on the company’s website, myrerunner.com, or download the mobile app, submit a picture of the receipt and items, and schedule a time and place for pickup. Money is directly refunded to the card used for payment.
Since opening, ReRunner has made $55,000 in returns, donated 10,000 pounds of clothing and amassed 250 registered users.
Abubaker, who works full time at University of Richmond, hopes one day ReRunner will turn into a full-time business. “The vision I have is that we take it nationally,” she says. “We would use drivers that are already on the road for companies such as Uber. They could do pickups as they were doing other things and make a little money on the side.”
The company is insured up to $2,000 for each pickup. “We will take a picture of the item when the driver gets there and pictures during each step of the process,” she says.
Abubaker wanted to make the service affordable and established a flat rate fee of $9 for each pickup. Each additional stop is $3. “We are creating a market that doesn’t exist quite yet,” she says. “We have to be approachable to people.”
ReRunner recently announced a partnership with Quirk Hotel and Hilton Richmond Downtown that gives guests the opportunity to leave parcels to be shipped out at the front desk. “We will go pick the item up from the hotel and give the guest a 20 percent discount,” Abubaker says.
ReRunner’s service can also be a timesaver for busy parents. “The last thing a mom wants to do is make a return,” Abubaker says. “I want to unburden her from that piece of the puzzle.”