It’s called Stuff Out and it’s the new bookstore in Lisbon. It is located near the São Bento area and started as an online platform for selling used books. It is a project by two young entrepreneurs based on the concepts of circular economy and sustainability.
Pedro Sousa and Rui Castro Prole studied together at the Nova IMS at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Pedro, 25 years old, completed an information management course and started working in a pharmaceutical company. Rui, 24 years old, has a degree in information technology and a job in banking.
Together, and without much financial responsibility, they decided to quit their jobs, take risks and invest what they had in this project – which is now well advanced.
“Our goal was to sell used products. We started by selling everything, complete house fillings. The aim was to promote a circular economy and a more sustainable lifestyle and to convey to people that not everything has to be bought new. Now there are quite a few clothing brands out there that only focus on one type of item, but none of them have done that well and still don’t: new people with the ability to communicate with younger audiences to explain that it’s ok to buy second hand. There are a lot of people who do this work informally, these instagrammers for sustainable living, but not many companies do it as a whole. And that was our original idea, ”explains NiT Pedro Sousa.
Stuff Out officially opened in January 2020 – even before the online shop. Pedro and Rui were given a storage room and office – right next to what is now the bookstore – and started selling all kinds of items (including books). In March of that year, as we all know, the pandemic came into effect and brought everything to a standstill. This resulted in a “large set of books in stock” that sold the most.
“We noticed that the books were selling, that people were starting to look at us differently, and were beginning to understand our message, ‘Ok, it’s cool to buy used products. Of course, the price plays a big role, books are much cheaper – Portugal is one of the countries where new books are more expensive. And also the topic of sustainability: We don’t produce anything new. And one thing we’ve tried from the start is that these are books that, by themselves, have a different story. Sometimes they have a dedication from someone who offered the book to their father, or they have the signature of the owner of the book. “
It is located in the São Bento area.
From then on, they began to turn to the book almost entirely, realizing there was a market opportunity – and they created software that could be used for day-to-day management of inventory and cataloging. They ran multiple tests between August and October last year, and in December Stuff Out was reborn online – with a book-only website that continues to this day with great success.
“Books are exactly the way we managed to get the message across. We found it was the easiest area to make a difference. We have the advantage that Rui knows a lot about books. The knowledge was already there, and it was also us who didn’t know how to use it. “
The idea of having a physical store was already on both heads, but suddenly: “One day I parked nearby and noticed that there was a space for rent there – where our shop is now,” says Pedro Sousa. “I called the contact who was there and asked if it would be possible for us to view the room. We took a look at it and found that it was perfect for us. It was what we needed to grow. We’re very close: the shop is on the street behind our office, which is also the warehouse. We already knew the neighborhood well. “
In just two days they got the room – which had to take over for two months. The next step was hiring Andreia, 29, a store manager with experience of connecting with customers. “It’s our business face.” Stuff Out opened on July 1st.
The idea is to have book presentations in the future.
Having a physical store was a multi-purpose goal. “First, give the project credibility online. It is difficult to sell used books online mainly because many people are doing it in an unprofessional way due to the pandemic. People who have created a Facebook page and sell books from home. Which is very difficult for us because customers who don’t know us tend to put them all in the same bag. That means there are no returns in your case. We must have: 14 days of penance, return without questions. “
And he adds: “We also wanted to show our vision of selling second-hand products. In the store we don’t just have books: we have a mix of items, some that we bought at fairs, others that we kept from the fillings of houses, things that we took advantage of and gave them a purpose, often decorative . In other words, our shop is not just made up of books and we want to show how decorating a room can work only with used products. We got very positive feedback and I am very happy with the room. And it’s an ever-changing decor. There is no guarantee that the space will be exactly the same in a month. “
That said, there are several decorative pieces to decorate the room – and all of them are for sale. At Stuff Out you can find, for example, the front of an old motorcycle or aircraft service vehicle that serve as a supply of books.
“Now we have a business card. Sales also increased online through the website and our Facebook because we have a physical space and website that gives the company credibility. “
There are several decorative pieces for sale.
Stuff Out also functions as a reading room. “People don’t have to buy. You can just go and enjoy the room, talk to us, get to know each other, we can suggest books, sit down, read a little. We have the case of foreigners asking us for simple books in Portuguese because they are studying. We recommend it and they read for a while to see if it makes sense. “
As the pandemic situation improves, the idea is to make Stuff Out a place for more sharing, with book presentations and other initiatives. “Giving space to people who normally don’t have space, independent writers. For us, the store is not just our goal. It’s just one more step. We still have a lot of projects in the drawer. “
They sell online to people of all ages – and in the most remote areas of the country, in places where there are no physical bookstores. Despite all the downsides, the pandemic has spurred online retailing, which was also an advantage for Pedro Sousa and Rui Castro Prole.
This project has all kinds of books. “We don’t order the books, we manage them based on what appears and what we buy. We sell everything and that is no problem for us. Also because we want to try to please everyone online. There is a certain amount of curation in the sense that we don’t sell books in bad shape. We only sell books that someone can offer. ”
The stuff-out team.
There are three thousand titles for sale in the store. But in total, if you count the inventory, it reaches 15 thousand. The best and most original are sold in the bookstore, with curatorial efforts to create diversity. In any case, the entire catalog can be viewed online. There are rarities, iconic stories by famous authors, great works of classical literature and specialist books. So a little bit of everything.
“Of course there are books that don’t sell, and we try to do other things with them. We have a wall of books in the shop. We’re also trying to come full circle, to breathe life into these books that would otherwise have to be wasted – missing pages, torn off pages, etc. And in the end, many books end up broke because they don’t sell and we don’t want to throw them away.
Stuff Out is open Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is located at number 70c on Rua da Quintinha in Lisbon. You can reach those responsible via the email firstname.lastname@example.org or the telephone numbers 210 109 342 or 212 416 957.