On average, a person in Switzerland buys 60 items of clothing per year – more than one per week. Of this amount, 40% stays in the closets. In the case of outdoor clothing, the share is likely even higher. Much too often, new and unused outdoor equipment gathers dust in the corner. Isa Schindler has recognized the problem and wants “to get these outdoor clothes out of people’s closets and make them available to others.”
The avid mountaineer put her idea into action and opened 2nd Peak in May 2020, the first secondhand store exclusively for outdoor apparel and equipment. The dream of being her own boss, trying out something new, not compromising – without the long decision-making paths: That has been the former marketing and project manager’s dream for a while. Dissatisfaction with her job and the desire for change were the crucial factors for taking the step to self-employment: “I wanted to do something meaningful with the last years of my career and create added value for society.”
With a big dose of courage and self-discipline, she left her job and started the project close to her heart: A secondhand store for outdoor apparel. Isa founded her GmbH on February 20, 2020, signed the first rental contract for retail space on March 11 – and then a week later the country went into lockdown. “I thought: Isa, you have must made the biggest mistake of your life,” the 55-year-old recalls of the initial phase of her self-employment. The time of the store opening was unfavorable, the coronavirus crisis was a challenge for even the most experienced players in retail.
In February 2021, 2nd Peak celebrated its one-year anniversary. The newcomer looks back on a turbulent year – and not just because of the coronavirus. During the first 12 months, there were repeated setbacks and phases of doubt. But her belief in her idea prevailed. In particular, Isa’s customers encourage her every day anew: “The positive feedback on social media, when people come to the store, and in public give me renewed courage and optimism every day to believe in my idea.
During the first lockdown, Isa Schindler used the time to obtain products for the opening, particularly from her circle of friends, and to set up the store space. “I drove around nearly all of Switzerland to people at their homes, they put the bags of clothes by their front door – so as to avoid direct contact,” Schindler recounts. Although she lacks some experience, the experienced project manager makes every effort to assess the situation with foresight and to react to changes early. She developed an online shop together with her team in October so as to be prepared for another lockdown. She was right: Her store had to close its doors in January. From that time she sold used clothes and equipment online. “That helped us to make ends meet. But the closure wasn’t just financially difficult, it was also mentally tough,” Isa admits. Now she is even happier that people can go her shop again and benefit from lower-cost and more sustainable clothing for outdoor activities.
“I’ve never had such a great job. The praise of the customers who come to the store every day gives me the strength to keep believing in my idea.”
One year after starting her company, Isa is satisfied with the development of her outdoor store: “It is a lot of work, but it doesn’t feel like work as such. I’m still in this with all my heart. As managing director, I currently still do almost everything myself: HR, marketing, administration, finances, purchasing, sales, and business development. I have help in store management and sales with fantastic advisors who are originally from retail or sports.
The concept of 2nd Peak is simple: Owners of sports apparel come to the store. Together with employees of 2nd Peak, they assess the clothing in question. The cleanliness, intactness, age, and function are rated. A price of no more than 50% of the original price is set using these criteria. The seller receives a share, one-third of 2nd Peak’s price, immediately as cash in hand. In this way, a new and unique range of the treasures can be offered to 2nd Peak’s customers almost every day. Many of the items available in the secondhand shop in Zurich were only worn once or twice. “It’s nice to see how generous people are,” says the founder about her customers who give their unused clothes to others.
The entrepreneur is full of new ideas and constantly implements them in her business. In addition to her online shop, 2nd Peak now also offers a rental service for apparel. Isa hopes this service will reduce the number of bad buys. The product can be tried out and tested during a specified rental period, and if the customer likes it, then they can buy it for a price less the rental fee.
“You are never too old to have a good idea and the energy required to make it a reality,” the 55-year-old affirms.