People want to enjoy the benefits of circular goods, but it has to be as good as new. The No neke project is looking for a way to get to the bottom of sustainability.

The No neke "sustainable mall" project was inspired by Sweden, where it was the first in Europe. The founders of No neke have built on the Swedish experience and are now implementing the concept of circular trade in the Czech Republic. This confirmed the huge purchasing potential. At the same time, the No neke store concept crystallized for us, which we are implementing in December in the Westfield Chodov shopping center in Prague. Based on our research, we built the assortment of what should be there, from fashion to iPhones," No neke founders Noema Pšenicová and Radek Hampl tell the Adastra podcast.

  • What is the potential of circular shops, including e-shops?
  • Will second-hand shops catch up with traditional retail in the future?
  • What do customers appreciate most about second-hand goods?
  • How can a sustainable business model work?

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Ivana Karhanová: Sustainable mall – a new project started in Prague’s Chodov. However, it does not address the consumption of water, electricity, or packaging materials. It goes to the very heart of sustainability. The logic is simple and ruthless. No product is created, no packaging is produced, and no energy is consumed. The No neke project and its founders, Noema Pšenicová and Radek Hampl. Hello, welcome to the studio.

Noema Pšenicová: Hello.

Radek Hampl: Hello.

Ivana Karhanová: You were inspired by the sustainable mall in Sweden, the first one in Europe. How does the concept work there?

Noema Pšenicová: Of course, when we were looking for some inspiration abroad, how circularity works there, we came across the first circular mall. Not just a store, but a whole big house. It’s a shopping mall that operates just outside Stockholm. It’s called ReTuna. It was founded in 2015 by Anna Bergström.

And we are lucky enough to have her mentoring us remotely. So we’re in touch with her, and we work together on what she’s learned and what has worked and hasn’t worked.

Well, as I mentioned, it’s a whole shopping mall where it works like that. They also buy things from people, sort through the goods, some of which go to the recycling collection, and the good bits are sold there. So that’s an inspiration for us, how it could work here in Prague one day.

Ivana Karhanová: What’s the most important lesson or information you’ve learned so far?

Noema Pšenicová: Although people want to buy second-hand because it has many benefits, they don’t want to hear that it’s second-hand, second-hand stuff and stuff like that. Instead, she told us that in communication, it worked more for them to show the goods as nice, as new, and to adapt the communication to the style of how people are used to consuming shops with new goods now, with fashion and so on.

Ivana Karhanová: Before you launched the project, you did some research and had the numbers to back it up. What did those numbers show you?

Noema Pšenicová: We looked at the numbers and found that there’s not much. Abroad, the American company Red Hat is the one that brings together the most data and statistics from surveys, and they are the driving force in this, and everybody quotes them.

They say that second-hand is becoming a global phenomenon and that by 2026 this market will grow by 127 percent, and its growth is even more dynamic, up to 11 times more than traditional retail. But then we looked at the data here from the local market and found absolutely nothing and were forced to do the research ourselves.

Ivana Karhanová: What did you get out of it?

Noema Pšenicová: It showed that up to 77 percent of Czechs buy second-hand at least sometimes. So we confirmed a huge buying potential. So the buying power is there.

Radek Hampl: At the same time, it crystallized the concept that we want to do, or rather that we are trying to do in December in Chodov – our No neke store. So, based on that research, we also built the assortment or a cross-section of the assortment that should be there.

We have representatives from different segments selling second-hand products. We have fashion there. That’s kind of a different cleaver, along with 1981.

Ivana Karhanová: So second hand.

Radek Hampl: Exactly. Then we have children’s goods or accessories, that’s Ebuu. Then we have home decor, which is Ad roll. Then we have some sports equipment, which is second-hand electric bikes. Who would have known that we even sell anything like that? But there it is.

From electronics, we have cheap iPhones that we will also be there to repair live for our customers, and we also partner with books that will have a dispensary there for that time.

And at the same time, just last to name all the partners, we have Ikea Circular Hub there because we figured if it’s all going to be second-hand, the equipment in that store should be second-hand as well. So all the equipment the customer will see there is from the Ikea Circular Hub, which many of us are probably familiar with.

Noema Pšenicová: I would add maybe to the data when we talk about what we got in the survey, not only the buying potential but also the motivation of people to buy second-hand. I expected it to be a high number, but I was quite shocked by that.

And it came out that up to 80 percent of consumers want to buy second-hand because of the price and the desire to save money, which is helped by the current situation, how everything is getting more expensive, energy prices, and those family budgets are hitting that. People also felt that they want to avoid waste and think it’s environmentally friendly. And that was over 60 percent, which was a big aha moment for us, like great.

Ivana Karhanová: Whom do you expect your typical customer to be? Because what you mentioned, 1981 or maybe So Slightly Different Chopper, are not typical cheap second-hand.

Noema Pšenicová: That’s right.

Radek Hampl: There’s a simple answer to that related to why we chose the Westfield Chodov shopping center unit. And that is that, for us, the customer is absolutely everyone who goes there. As we know, Chodov is one of the largest or probably the largest shopping centers in the Czech Republic. So the hit is huge.

And we’re not just talking about Prague here, we’re talking about Central Bohemia as well, or even whole buses from different parts of the Czech Republic are going shopping. So we want to show and reach out to customers across all target groups, not least because we want them to see that second-hand items are comparable in quality to new ones.

Ivana Karhanová: Why did you choose Chodov? It seems paradoxical to me that a No neke, the sustainable mall, would be in something that promotes consumerism and turnover, fast fashion, and new products with all the trimmings.

Radek Hampl: You hit it on the head. It’s for this very reason. We approach it by wanting to show it to customers and change the system from within. We don’t want the customer to be forced to go to different parts of the city to get things second-hand but to find them under one roof with everything.

So this was also one of the reasons to be competitive, or to be seen to be competitive with new products sold in Chodov, all around us, or all around that business unit.

Noema Pšenicová: And even though Chodov seems like such a mecca of consumerism, it’s huge. They do a lot of things around sustainability. For example, they have a sustainable mall to support just those projects. So it was nice that they just wanted to support us.

Ivana Karhanová: You’re the first in the Czech Republic, if I’m not mistaken. When you first came to the Chodov shopping center, you wanted something like this. How did they react?

Noema Pšenicová: Well, it was interesting because we are missing one of our co-founders here today, Míša Cloudová, who arranged the whole thing with them. She met the ladies from Chodov Marketing at a networking event, and word got out.

She told them about our idea because, as she says, you need to talk about it when you have a good idea. So they talked about it and found out that they also have a lot of things in that line of activities where they want to promote sustainability and circularity. So, ironically, it was more that they jumped on us.

Radek Hampl: At the same time, I have to say that there was a very high synergy between us during the negotiations. It wasn’t that we had to argue why and so on. But in general, they were attracted to the concept, which made sense to them. So the word was the word.

Ivana Karhanová: We haven’t gotten to the name yet. Well, I would guess that it means “no shit”.

Radek Hampl: That’s right.

Noema Pšenicová: From a marketer’s point of view, coming up with a good brand name is a challenge for a few weeks. But we had hours to do it, and I’m completely shocked at how beautifully we did it. But, of course, it’s not entirely to our credit. We approached a brand strategist, Pavel Cahlik, to see if he could help us with it. He organized a workshop for us where he wanted to explain and pass on how to come up with the name.

When we invited him for a beer, and we wanted to discuss it there, he had no idea that we had to go with the name because the next day, we were already forced to announce it to the media that we had interviewed before and we still didn’t have a name. And what came out of that was No neke.

It’s amazing in that it matches the emotion and reactions of the people we want to evoke. A customer comes in and says: It looks like new, No neke, is that second hand? Oh, come on, is this really like that? So if we get it right, for me, for marketing, the brand, and the communication will be well understood.

Ivana Karhanová: You both have mentioned that these things should look and be presented differently. I know only two choppers, So a little different chopper and 1981. And the fact is that both of these choppers are careful about the selection of the goods and the presentation of the goods. I was just in there yesterday, and I took away the jeans and jacket I’m wearing today because they’re washed, de-wrinkled, and just in top condition, and I can wear them right now.

Radek Hampl: Our goal was to choose the vendors and whom we would work with. We had a lot of companies and partners in the pipeline, and we were wondering if it made sense to approach them at all if it would make sense for us to approach them.

The ones that end up being there just meet our requirements for the product range to be good quality, to be clean, to be comparable to the new stuff, and for the customer to be confident that they’re leaving with a good thing, that they’re leaving with a good emotion, that they’ve done a good deal.

Ivana Karhanová: That means that in your case, it ceases to be the case that the second-hand market is a sour apple market, where I have a high probability of buying something that no longer works as it should, and that’s why someone gave it away.

Radek Hampl: Exactly. In our country, the likelihood of buying a coat with wrinkles or that’s still dirty…

Ivana Karhanová: It can be washed, but it’s bad for an iPhone, for an electric bike, I guess.

Radek Hampl: A nice example is cheap iPhones, which normally have a warranty period from our partners. We try to reduce the likelihood of the customer coming home and being dissatisfied with the thing because of its quality as much as possible.

Noema Pšenicová: That can’t happen because when we did our research, some people still have a fixation with mainly second-hand clothing stores as dirty digs where the quality of the stuff is unclear, the cleanliness is unclear, and we have to tear that down, that’s just a given.

That’s why we were so selective concerning the vendors and Chodov that they would not let us go to Chodov if the quality was lower. So that’s very important to us.

Radek Hampl: Many of us have the experience of the mass fashion chopper. I experienced that a gentleman came in a van with six boxes to the square in a nearby village, and ladies from the whole town or villages gathered there and started taking over, and everything was for ten crowns. So yeah, that’s not exactly how it works because we quality control it and guarantee it will be fine.

Ivana Karhanová: I’ll return to the question of who your customer is. Because you said everybody, but we know in marketing that if something is for everybody, it’s not for anybody. None of these products will be cheap because I can buy them on different Facebook groups, in bazaars, and on the internet because those things will be more expensive. So who’s going to be your customer?

Noema Pšenicová: Our research showed that women shop more in brick-and-mortar stores. So yes, it will be women. But in terms of age dispersion, that didn’t play a role in the survey. So we tried to mix up the range so that mums with kids could find something there, teens could find something there, and older people could find something there, like some nice home decor and stuff like that.

But yes, the range will not be the cheapest. It won’t be that everything is 50 crowns, but compared to the price of a new piece, there will be a significant – I don’t want to say discount, because it’s not a discount, but a significantly reduced amount that these people will pay.

Radek Hampl: We have to be competitive with Chodov. That means that for a customer to come and buy from us in Chodov, they have to see the benefits of buying from us and that we are comparable in price to other shops, especially now for Christmas.

Ivana Karhanová: Does that mean your target audience will have to be sustainably educated?

Noema Pšenicová: I don’t think so because, as we found out, 80% of consumers shop mainly to try to save money. So I think there will be people who don’t buy second-hand regularly. And maybe they only find out that we have a second-hand range when they come to the store and get their hands on the stuff.

Radek Hampl: And that’s fine.

Noema Pšenicová: Yes, of course, we will communicate already on the windows and stuff, but people are bombarded with advertising from every side in Chodov, so I imagine that many times they will come and they won’t even know that they came to a circular shop. We’re here for everybody.

I know marketing myself that it’s very strange, and that makes it all the more difficult. But I think just in the month that we’re on that Chodov, it’s going to be better to crystallize who has shopped with us the most, and the target audience will just be better specified. So now we’re just opening our arms and coming and see what all the great second-hand shopping is and see who’s using it the most.

Ivana Karhanová: And what happens after that month?

Radek Hampl: We have a lot of plans. Of course, there are many scenarios. It is important for us now to collect some data. We are not talking about classic sales data. I take it that’s a classic that we’re just doing whatever it is traffic, and I don’t know what all else.

But there’s going to be a survey or a poll where we’re going to be asking even our customers face to face: what did you think about it, how did you feel about it, and so on so that we have the biggest picture after that month. And also, based on that customer experience, we will either continue to build the business model or improve or change it.

And, as I said, there are a lot of scenarios. We’re talking about some sort of omnichannel solution where we’re also talking about an online marketplace through rotating stores or franchises. There’s just so much going on.

Ivana Karhanová: And can we say something more about those plans?

Radek Hampl: I like to call the offline leg of our No neke now a kind of offline marketplace for a month. And, of course, since I’m in e-commerce, I see a lot of potential in an e-commerce solution.

When I look at how second-hand stuff works for second hand online in general right now, it’s very much segment by segment, but to show that it can be done differently and to come to one shop where I can get everything and have it second hand, it’s not quite there yet.

And I think that’s one scenario. But of course, using space in shopping centers also has added value for the customer from my point of view. We always get into the fact that the customer needs to touch certain things, they want to see them, and those customers are not just online. So it’s always some intersection of everything.

Noema Pšenicová: Yeah, it’s more like exactly the online signal because one can’t exist without the other. That’s what we’re seeing now. Online companies are opening brick-and-mortar stores and vice versa. Stone shops are going online with e-shops. So I guess that’s kind of what our concept will look like.

There is a question: Where to start after collecting and evaluating the data and how to make it sustainable in terms of ecology and profitable in terms of business?

Radek Hampl: This is also maybe an important point that we didn’t mention. We don’t look at it as a non-profit business. We look at it as a business that should be sustainable in the long term and should be healthy. If we can’t find that business model, we’re just not going to do it. We don’t want to be a non-profit organization. We want to be business healthy.

Ivana Karhanová: What’s going to be here after that month?

Radek Hampl: I think that after a month, in January, there will be a lot of thinking about what to do next and which way to send it. And at the same time, as we were talking a few seconds ago about the scenarios, they are all very nice, but often they can’t be done all at once.

So I think we’ll also talk about how we scale the business in the long term and how we continue to maybe grow.

Noema Pšenicová: We’ll gather a lot of experience in a month. We’re already gathering a lot of experience. Radek is in charge of operations and could probably talk about it for hours.

It’s also about how to organize the people and the team. To frame it some more, from the moment we agreed with Chodov to open the store, we had 56 days left until the opening.

Radek Hampl:  And even with the name, we had to come up with it by then.

Noema Pšenicová: Everything. I would have liked to see other brands or talk to somebody who could find retailers, find partners, find status, and figure out marketing, branding, and everything in such a short amount of time.

But that’s such a valuable experience for us that we just have to figure out how to make that long-term deal work because I wouldn’t put up with it anymore if we said in January that we just couldn’t do it.

Ivana Karhanová: Do you have any feedback now, maybe from other shopping centers? Are they registering for this activity?

Radek Hampl: Yes, we do. When we started to deal with operational things, whether it’s payments or whatever, we already had the opportunity to use maybe other shopping centers that offered us: Look, we have a vacant unit here, we don’t have a tenant there, so come, and we’ll start it with you in November and so on. So this was unrealistic for us at the time, and at the same time, the partnership with Chodov is so valuable to us, and the synergy is so great that we didn’t want to break it up this time.

And in terms of feedback in general, I have to say that we have a lot of support. Everywhere we look, people are approaching us we’ve never talked to, never seen. And as soon as they caught some information about us in the media, they immediately started to write to us directly, like they wanted to help.

Just now someone wrote that he would like to come just to see how the branch is going to be built, that he doesn’t even want anything, but that he will come and that he will pull some equipment and that he would like to see it, that he likes it very much. So that feedback or that feedback and that support have been tremendous, which I’m very happy about.

Ivana Karhanová: Do you think it’s realistic that one day something like the Chodov Centre will be created here, just with second-hand stuff?

Radek Hampl: We have such examples from abroad, and I don’t think it’s unrealistic. I think it’s a question of when the customer will be ready for it.

Noema Pšenicová: Maybe it already is.

Radek Hampl: Maybe it already is, but we’ll see.

Noema Pšenicová: We will see in December.

Ivana Karhanová: Those were the founders of the No neke project, aka Sustainable Mall, Noema Pšenicová, and Radek Hampl. Thanks to both for visiting the studio and seeing us in Chodov for shopping.

Noema Pšenicová: Thanks, see you later.

Radek Hampl: Goodbye.