If you live in Hong Kong, have an impressive handbag collection and find yourself short on cash, you’re in luck – you might be eligible for a handbag loan! According to the Wall Street Journal, one enterprising lender in the burgeoning Chinese luxury retail hub is helping wealthy women, many of them housewives, turn their prized handbags into quick cash, from a couple hundred bucks to many thousands.
The Yes Lady Finance Company is the first of its kind, in Hong Kong or elsewhere. Riva Gold and Chester Yung of the WSJ talked to the lender and some of its clients, and here’s how it works: a client brings a handbag (or many handbags – one of the customers in the story brought in almost 50 Gucci bags) in to the office, and an authenticator from a local luxury resale chain verifies the bag’s origins and assesses value. In general, only bags from Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Gucci qualify for Yes Lady loans, and once a value is assigned, the company cuts its client a check for 80% of that number – no income verification or background checks are required. Yes Lady is somewhere between a pawn shop and a traditional lender.
Clients then have four months at 4% interest to pay back the loan and reclaim their designer handbags, and apparently the vast majority do. Only a cursory mention was given to those who try and acquire loans based on fake bags, and the lenders feel confident that they can weed them out. It wasn’t entirely explained why a woman who’s described as “wealthy” and who has a trove of designer bags might need to turn one over for a short-term loan, except that sometimes all of a family’s money is “tied up in stock,” which, to me, would have been an interesting avenue to explore. Something’s missing about why a woman with a Birkin worth over $20,000, like one described in the WSJ article, would need to hawk it, and why there’s enough of those women in the emerging Hong Kong market to support an entire lending company.