Mountain Brook Trading site expands from cyberspace into village space with brick and mortar locationCyd Quick Ruffino (left) and Laura Greene Silsbee (right) are surrounded by items for sale inside MBT on Dexter, Tuesday, December 9, 2014. (Ana Rodriguezfirstname.lastname@example.org)
MOUNTAIN BROOK, Alabama -- The ever-popular virtual shopping mall, Mountain Brook Trading, is making a leap from cyberspace into village space.
Located in the heart of Crestline Village, MBT on Dexter hopes to offer a variety of services that could not have been met virtually.
For a $10 per month membership fee, MBT on Dexter provides both shoppers and sellers the ability to drop off and pick up items in a safe location. This convenience, said the women behind the shop, Laura Greene Silsbee and Cyd Quick Ruffino, will help alleviate some of the concerns that came along with online sales.
The collaboration between the two was born out of complementary necessities, said the duo today while chatting with AL.com inside the new space.
Silsbee was looking for a way to further the MBT model. Recently, Silsbee shut down trading on the Facebook site and transitioned those sales to VarageSale, a "garage sale" online platform and phone app.
"I didn't have time to keep up with Mountain Brook Trading on Facebook anymore," said Silsbee, a working mother of three.
At its height, MBT on Facebook boasted nearly 55,000 members--all with individual needs and questions directed at Silsbee. To date, approximately 20,942 have made the switch onto the Mountain Brook VarageSale. The site currently lists 38,238 items for sale, ranging from children's clothing to large pieces of furniture.
Despite no longer being responsible for the brunt of the work, Silsbee said she still felt gaps in the practicality and safety of online trading.
"I'd receive countless messages a day," said Silsbee, "from Mountain Brook Trading sellers who were concerned about meeting up with someone in a parking lot or giving a buyer their home address. MBT on Dexter helps alleviate all of that."
Ruffino, on the other hand, was looking for a way to expand funding opportunities for Alabama Forever, a non-profit that raises academic and athletic funding for low-income Alabama schools.
"I was approached by a coworker who
asked me if I could help sell some items of his via an online trading site," said Ruffino, "and my wheels started turning."
Ruffino contacted Silsbee and proposed that they combine their needs and services: Ruffino offered usable space right next to Alabama Forever on Dexter and Silsbee attracted the people and their merchandise.
Along with serving as a safe drop-off/pick-up location, the site will also function as a show room featuring mostly home furnishings valued at $50 or more that are currently listed on the Mountain Brook Trading VarageSale virtual marketplace. For a 40 percent commission on the item, MBT on Dexter will measure, photograph, list and showcase the item for 30 days. A portion of the commission made from the sale of items and membership fees will be donated to Alabama Forever.
This option allows sellers to part with their items anonymously and save themselves the trouble of keeping up with back and forth with interested buyers, said Ruffino.
"Sellers simply need to indicate an acceptable absolute bottom price," she said, "and we will handle the rest."
Once the item sells, MBT will arrange to distribute the remaining 60 percent of the sale price to the seller.
If an item does not sell, MBT offers two options. Sellers can choose to pick the item up or donate it to Alabama Forever for a tax-deductible write-off.
Delivery and pickup services will also be available for an additional $85 per truckload fee. Membership and use of the space will not be restricted to Mountain Brook residents, said Silsbee and Ruffino, so long as sales are handled in a convenient way.
"We're doing this for the community," said Ruffino. "Mountain Brook trading began as a community-oriented trading site and we hope to continue in that same fashion, but in a more convenient way."
Those wishing to become MBT on Dexter members are asked to visit the location located at 2 Dexter Ave. or contact email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.