This Company in the 'Breakup Industry' Gears Up for Valentine's Day
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Valentine's Day may be a time to express love and devotion to your significant other, but it's also a time for breakups.
According to a 2011 survey by Avvo.com, a free ratings and profile service for attorneys and doctors in the U.S., the number of Americans seeking divorce lawyers and divorce-related information "skyrockets" around Valentine's Day.
The reasons could be several: people delaying divorce until after the holidays, waiting for bonuses to come in or even seeing if a relationship can be reconciled based on what's planned for Valentine's Day, the survey found.
Six years ago, Josh Opperman saw an opportunity in the "break-up" industry after experiencing his own broken engagement.
Opperman, now 35, was looking to get reimbursed for the more than $10,000 he shelled out for an engagement ring, only to find that most places were only willing to give him a fraction (in some cases just 35%) of what he paid, he says. Opperman decided to create the marketplace so that others wouldn't have to go through what he did.
He launched I Do ... Now I Don't in February 2007.
The site has become a popular place for sellers to get rid of unwanted jewelry at better prices than in the retail market, and for buyers, especially in this cost-conscious economy, to potentially get an engagement ring of their dreams for less than the retail cost.
Last year, about $2.5 million worth of items were sold through the site, according to Opperman.
So far the most expensive was a $75,000 engagement ring, he says.
The idea takes the pawn and consignment industries to a whole new level. It also threatens the $30 billion retail jewelry market, which has been struggling since the recession, according to IBISWorld.
"Price-conscious consumers have found new ways to get deals on jewelry," as the December report says. "Department stores, warehouse retailers and online outlets threaten traditional jewelry retailers by offering consumers a low-priced one-stop shop for their jewelry needs. When consumers shop at these stores more often than traditional jewelry stores, industry revenue will decline."
And while the report focused specifically on new jewelry purchases, one can't help but add a site like I Do ... Now I Don't to the mix of competitors for retail sales.
But it wasn't easy getting consumers to use the site at first. In the beginning, the company's biggest challenge was solidifying its reputation and getting customers to trust that the site was not a scam, Opperman says.
"When someone is sending in a $10,000 diamond ring without getting paid for it, it takes a lot of trust for someone to do that. That was the biggest hurdle in the very beginning that we had to overcome," Opperman says.