At the first lolita fashion meet I ever attended, I started chatting with the person next to me about our respective dresses. When I mentioned that my dress was Cornet, purchased off Mercari Japan, they commented that they’d never tried to purchase from the Japanese secondhand market because they were too intimidated. I was shocked! Most of my wardrobe is second hand. Dozens of my pieces were from sites like Mercari Japan, Fril, Ratuken, Wunderwelt, or Closet Child. While some of these sites allowed international customers to buy directly, many of them required shopping services.
I’m sure that experienced lolitas will have their favorite shopping services already, but for newer people to the fashion, it can be overwhelming. Over the years I’ve used From Japan, Japan Shopping Service, and today’s subject: Zenmarket.
Zenmarket is a well establish company that offers proxy shopping and related services. Their website is easy to navigate and their pricing structure is very clear. Zenmarket charges 300 yen per item to purchase from sites that otherwise don’t offer international sales. Zenmarket can communicate in Japanese with sellers if you have questions about an item. They can also take pictures of your items when they arrive at the warehouse, repack items for safe international shipping, and combine packages so you only pay once for international postage.
Zenmarket, like other shopping service companies (as opposed to personal shopping services), have some advantages. Multiple people can answer queries and place orders. A company can juggle a large volume of orders than an individual can. A company can afford to set up automated services, like proxy bidding for auction sites like Yahoo! Japan Auctions.
Despite the fact that I regularly purchased second hand items, I’d never purchased from Yahoo! Japan Auctions. When a dress I’ve been search for popped up at a good price, I jumped at the chance to buy it! Zenmarket allows for realtime proxy bidding on Y!JA, so I was able to quickly secure the dress for the “buy it now” price. In this case, it happened to be the same as the bidding price. Though I originally saw the dress on Y!JA, I could have also used Zenmarket’s website to search and buy directly through their interface. Instead, I pasted the link into their search bar to place my order.
Zenmarket is a little unique in that they require a “deposit” before they make purchases for you. You have to transfer money into your Zenmarket account before you can buy an item. This was a little intimidating at first, but it ensures that Zenmarket can place your order without extending credit to unknown (and potentially untrustworthy customers). Other shopping services send an invoice after they receive your order. However, this can result in a delay in your order being placed. That can mean missing out on a dream dress.
On September 8, 2021, I added enough money to my account to cover the bidding price, Zenmarket’s fee, and an estimate on the domestic shipping cost. I received confirmation that my bid was placed. Because I bought for the “buy it now” price, Zenmarket also confirmed that I won the auction. On September 10, 2021, Zenmarket confirmed that they “bought my item.” I assume they meant that they paid for my item on this date.
On September 13, 2021, I got a notice that my item had reached their warehouse. At that point, I had the option to keep my item in their warehouse for up to 45 days at no additional cost. This is a great option if you’re ordering many items from Japan and want to combine shipping. I didn’t have anything else, so I asked them to pack my item! I chose my shipping method(EMS, though they had other options available) and confirmed my shipping address. On September 15, 2021, I received notice that my shipping cost had been confirmed. I added additional funds to my account and paid the invoice. On September 16, 2021, my item shipped. On September 21, 2021, my package arrived to my home in Los Angeles, California.
My package arrived with a sturdy plastic envelope on the outside, bubble wrap around the dress, plus an additional plastic bag around the dress itself. This item didn’t need quite that much packaging, but it made it’s way safely to me!
To recap, I ordered my dress on September 13, 2021 and had it in hand on September 21, 2021. My item was 21,800 yen on Y!JA. Domestic shipping within Japan was 1200 yen. International shipping to the United States (via EMS) was 2660. Zenmarket’s fee was 300. It’s hard to beat that price and that speedy service. I’d definitely recommend Zenmarket to anyone trying to purchase from Japanese secondhand sites, especially Y!JA.