Watch out: Rolex or Nini Ricci – take your pick. We are talking about genuine stuff here

DUBAI: Want to barter your furniture for someone else’s branded watch – or vice versa? That would be a breeze now at Cash Converters, the world’s largest chain of barter and second-hand stores which recently opened in Dubai.

The store has drawn instant converts, such as Dubai publishing executive Ed Attwood. “It’s quite popular in most cities so I’m surprised it opened in Dubai just now,” said the Briton, who visited the store on Monday. He did not buy just yet, but said it’s good to know the chain is now in Dubai.

Cash Converters, launched in Australia in 1984, has taken buying and selling pre-owned goods to a higher level. Its two-level 850 square metre shop on Shaikh Zayed Road near Al Noor Islamic Bank Metro station, is part of a chain of 600 stores in 21 countries.

It’s a barter shop with an attitude – offering several buy and sell options. But unlike Cash Converters shops elsewhere in the world, the Dubai outlet offers used furniture and even a consignment service, where people can leave items for sale and the shop gets a cut from the sale. “Ours is a unique retail concept in that the public are both our customers and our suppliers,” said Fabrice Le Boulenger, UAE managing director of Cash Converters.

When the store buys items of value and in good condition, the price is based generally on eBay or souq.com deals, he said.

About half of the items are on consignment, said Le Boulenger, a former executive of a retail giant who previously worked in Japan, Thailand, Qatar and Argentina.

“I quite like the stuff on offer here – and the fact that they also have furniture and items on consignment,” said Philip, a Kiwi who was at the store to sell his son’s musical instruments.

Those who have nothing to barter can instead buy whatever stuff they fancy – from jewellery and paintings to rugs and used white goods. “We’re a physical alternative to an online marketplace,” said Le Boulenger. “The idea has been long overdue in Dubai, a city that has a huge transient population among expatriates. But it took us time to get everything sorted.”

A down-payment option is also available where buyers can book an item for 20-per cent of the price and are given six weeks to pay the full amount and take it home.

Though the store specialises in second-hand items, it also carries some brand-new stuff. While the used items come with an in-house warranty of six months, the new ones are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

There are currently hundreds of items at the less-than-a-month-old Cash Converters store, but its operators expect the number to increase as the idea catches fire among both sellers and buyers. An iPhone3 2GS quickly flew off his shelf on Monday as someone snapped it up for Dh580.



A few samples:

Massage chair (pre-owned)- Dh199

Pingpong table (pre-owned)- Dh600

Generic PC Core2Duo (pre-owned)- Dh350

Dining table, 9 pcs (pre-owned) - Dh880

Nina Ricci watch (pre-owned) - Dh1,200 (new, Dh2,975)

Rolex Oyster (pre-owned) - Dh16,000 (new, Dh25,000).

LG washing machine (pre-owned) - Dh790 (new Dh2,495)

Thomson BluRay/DVD Player (new) - Dh390 (original price Dh990)

White sofa from The One (pre-owned) - Dh1,480 (original price Dh5,700)

Electric Yamaha guitar (pre-owned) - Dh780 (original price Dh1,200)