E-commerce Continues To Boom While In-Store Shopping Makes A Comeback In Carlsbad

June 22, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people shopped in Carlsbad and across the country. As more people worked from home and avoided indoor places, e-commerce grew and companies pivoted to stay open and remain competitive. 

In fact, e-commerce sales increased by $244.2 billion or 43% to a whopping $815.4 billion in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS)

Fashionphile, a Carlsbad-based company that sells pre-owned, luxury bags, jewelry, watches and other accessories, was able to successfully adapt to changing consumer behaviors amid the pandemic by creating a “touch-free experience” for sellers and buyers through virtual appointments. Sarah Davis, founder and president of Fashionphile, said the luxury recommerce brand actually grew its business while many companies declined and others closed.

Fashionphile headquarters located in Carlsbad, California.

“While a lot of companies had a down year in 2020, we didn’t have a down year,” Davis said. “We still grew a little over 25%, but we didn’t grow as much as we normally had. In 2021, we grew 107%.”

Helping Fashionphile is that they have always been an online business with an understanding of how to scale. 

Fashionphile began in 1999, when Davis started reselling luxury handbags on eBay. In 2006, she partnered with CEO Ben Hemminger, who evolved the brand by expanding the collection and presenting it to a larger market.

The business remained on eBay until 2007, when Fashionphile launched its own website. 

Fashionphile sells pre-owned, luxury bags, jewelry, watches and other accessories. Credit: Fashionphile

“Ever since then we’ve been almost entirely online,” Davis said.

Fashionphile has grown from a small office and a couple employees to a 30,000-square-foot space in Carlsbad and more than 450 employees. Today, the company’s gross merchandise value is more than $360 million.

“It’s growing like crazy,” Davis said. 

“People are still buying resale more than ever, they care about sustainability and they know about us,” she added.

The Fashionphile headquarters on Paseo Del Lago also doubles as a showroom with roughly 30,000 selections, and locals love to shop at the showroom. Neiman Marcus has also invested in the company, adding Fashionphile resell studios and service desks to many of its stores across the country. 


Sarah Davis is founder and president of Fashionphile.Credit: Fashionphile

Even with growth in e-commerce, physical retail stores are gaining in popularity again with Carlsbad companies seeing a resurgence in in-store shopping.

In May, online retail sales increased 2.2% compared with the same month a year prior, according to payment data released by Mastercad. In-store sales grew at a much faster rate of 13.4%.

Carlsbad-based USAopoly, also known as The Op, has been a leading publisher and manufacturer of board games and puzzles for 28 years.

“Ecommerce didn’t exist when we first got into business,” said Dane Chapin, co-founder and CEO of USAopoly.

Chapin and his sisters co-founded The Op in 1994. Over the years, the company evolved from five city editions of Monopoly to a robust line of its own signature games, licensed games, chess sets, puzzles, game accessories and more.

Today, about 80% of The Op’s business is from brick-and-mortar stores, Chapin said. The rest is from Amazon and other online retailers.

Dane Chapin co-founded USAopoly in 1994. Credit: USAopoly

Brick and mortar is “far from dead,” Chapin said.

“I think, if anything, it’s making a resurgence because of the pandemic,” he added. “People want to get out and about. They want to feel, touch, look, see. Brick and mortar has a very strong future and we don’t discount it whatsoever.” 

The company first opened an 800-square-foot office in Encinitas. Today, The Op has a roughly 25,000-square-foot space on Avenida Encinas in Carlsbad.

“Carlsbad is a hub for innovation and all kinds of business,” Chapin said. 

Although brick-and-mortar sales and physical games are a major part of the company’s business, The Op is evolving with plans to expand its digital offerings. 

“E-commerce and having a digital platform is going to be a big part of that,” Chapin said. “If we’re not going to continue to push the envelope and improve, then we shouldn’t be in business.”