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January 2019 I French Living Charlotte Cady from online brocante business Selency

Flea markets move online – and go upmarket, too... Jane Hanks talks to the young entrepreneur credited with giving the traditional French brocante a thoroughly modern new look


F on hand so the charity can react rapidly to any new crisis and stay neutral. It always tries to have medical centres in areas supported by both sides of a conflict. It does not have to waste time persuading public bodies to hand over cash. “Amongst the medical staff there are a great number of young retired but also working doctors who take time out of their annual leave to work for MSF. “When we do a mission all our expenses are paid, including air fares, board and lodgings, and we are given a small sum to cover extra expenses. MSF also employs local people, so that in Mocha we had 150 staff, including medical and administrative workers, and only 10% of us came from outside Yemen.” He is 69, so surely it is a huge commitment and physically exhausting? “I will not be able to keep on doing it for ever, but while I can, I will.”

Top left, Dr Leménager operates on a gunshot victim in Central African Republic. Above, with the boy whose leg he saved in Yemen. Below, carrying out a consultation at a hospital in Ivory Coast shortly after fighting broke out

Photo: Brigitte Breuillac / MSF

France because there is plenty of misery here that needs addressing. “Working for MSF is interesting on a professional, personal and humanitarian level. As a doctor you extend your skills because you see different kinds of pathologies, and for me it is interesting because you meet people from all over the world with different experiences. “There are MSF staff from the UK, Armenia, Pakistan, Australia, the United States and though we are not tourists in the usual sense it is fascinating to get to know about people’s way of life in the different countries we work in.” Charities are often criticised for the way they spend their money, but Dr Leménager feels the MSF does its best: “It is a huge organisation, but it keeps its administrative costs to a minimum. “The fact that 97% of its money comes from private donors means the money is

ans of vide greniers, flea markets and brocantes are buying more and more of their second hand furniture and antiques on line. Rather than getting up early at weekends to stroll around stalls and shops, they are looking at beautifully presented objects from the comfort of home, where they can imagine just where to put this or that object. There are a range of sites, with their own specialities. For example, Luckyfind, for vintage and quality second-hand; Atelier du Petit Parc for Fifties and Sixties objects from France, Belgium, Holland and Denmark; Design Market for highend pieces, and for those searching antiques there is Antiquités en France. ‘Label Emmaüs’ was launched by the charity of the same name in December 2016, and has attracted a new public to those who already know their second-hand stores (where money from sales goes to their charity). Organisers say in the first year they sold 10,000 items and 25% of buyers had never bought from Emmaüs before. One of the first sites – and now one of the most successful – was Selency. It was launched by two young entrepreneurs in 2014, Maxime Brousse, passionate about start-ups and Charlotte Cadé (pictured above), who has always adored brocantes and decoration: “I found I wasted a lot of time going to brocantes and searching on Ebay, so I set up a site to make it easier to find what you want,” Ms Cadé told Connexion. “It has been a pleasant surprise to see how popular it has become. We now have 100,000 objects on line, employ 30 people, sell 100 items a day and it is still growing. We are en plein boom.” She believes she has introduced a new approach to buying second hand: “The emphasis is on decoration, rather than brocante and we take photos to give ideas and show what a room could look like. Our launch coincided with an increasingly eco-responsible public who think that buying old is better than buying new.” The site sells a wide range of styles, with prices ranging from €10-€25,000. Most sellers are professionals and

Selency takes a commission of 25% but private individuals can also sell on the site for a 15% fee. Buyers cover the cost of delivery. She agrees it is not the same as finding the objects yourself and touching them: “Ten years ago no-one would have thought it possible to buy online, but this is another way of buying where you don’t get dusty, and you can take your time to decide whether to purchase or not.” Armel Labbé is a third generation antiques seller, at La-Chartre-sur-le-Loir, Sarthe, with a shop that has been in existence since 1925. Not all dealers welcome the idea of selling on the web, but he says it has brought a breath of fresh air to the business: “The Selency story attracted my attention straight away because I think Charlotte Cadé has given a new image to brocante, modernised the job and brought in a new generation interested in antiques.” He puts his finds on her site, his own and on others and around 50% of his sales are via the internet.

Ten years ago no-one would have thought it possible to buy online, but this is another way of buying

“It has been a massive amount of work. You now have to photograph your items, spend time checking the sites and emails and I now have three rooms dedicated to packing materials. “I like to say that a shop is no longer enough, but that internet is not enough either, so you need both.” He says he uses all social media : “My latest discovery is Instagram. I have posted a photo and found customers outside my door the next day to buy the item! “I am thinking of expanding to use overseas sites, as 2018 has been a difficult year for everyone. It means I will have to spend more evenings working up until midnight, but the internet opens up huge possibilities for both sellers and buyers.”

Profile for English Language Media Sarl

The Connexion 195 - January 2019  

France's English-Language Newspaper

The Connexion 195 - January 2019  

France's English-Language Newspaper