N.J. business marks up items for ‘unsale’ to benefit survivors, women in captivity

Holiday shoppers are used to stores slashing their prices on Black Friday. One New Jersey startup is headed in the opposite direction this year: raising prices for a good cause.

A lot of shoppers are on the lookout for deals, but Charity Gift Market CEO Lindsey Markelz says her customers are not.

“A business like ours has a dilemma,” she says. “We see that marking prices down would not be helpful to the people who are trying to sell them.”

Markelz and her husband co-founded the online marketplace where charities post and sell their products.

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“We actually were frustrated two Christmases ago. We wanted to find something that was unique and meaningful. We didn’t just want to go to the mall and buy the standard gifts, and we started looking for charities that sold products. We actually found a lot.”

Markelz says she and her husband thought others of a similar mind would like to go to one place to find a variety of products. And, so, the Charity Gift Market was born.

Markelz, who runs the online marketplace out of her home office in Camden, says earlier attempts to discount prices didn’t go too well.

“We thought people would be excited and purchase things on sale. And so we asked around and got some feedback,” she said. “Customers said that they felt bad when they purchased products on sale [because] it meant that charity was ultimately taking less. It meant the people who made it weren’t going to benefit as much from the purchase.”

So this Black Friday through Cyber Monday, Markelz is taking an entirely different approach — she’s marking up prices on 16 products, including silver and gold necklaces produced by the charity Made by Survivors, which helps to rescue women from brothels in India.

Markelz has a goal in this price-increasing plan; she says the sale of one “free” necklace, which is selling for $450 — almost 10 times the usual price — is enough to help her accomplish her aim of rescuing at least one woman from trafficking through the sales over the weekend.

“Made by Survivors dedicates all the funds generated this weekend through their product sales specifically to rescuing women,” Markelz said.

Markelz says she takes a five percent commission, plus there are Paypal credit card fees — so the charity ends up with 92% of the total purchase price.

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