06 September 2012
Bureau of Trade: A Different Kind of Commerce
Michael Moskowitz, founder of The Bureau of Trade, talks in these M60 machine gun, rapid fire bursts... a pause so the barrel won't over heat. A tilted head at a comment I make and Moskowitz sighs, "Hell is other people." I think I like this guy. Bright, funny and a little off the reservation, his web site is filled with great stuff for men. Some of it Ebay. Some of it directly sourced. Almost all of it (I hate Corvettes) unique, sophisticated and with witty observations I find pretty damned refreshing. Although, he should know the price for a 560 SL is just the cover charge for getting in to see the mechanic. Check out his web site here.
What was the inspiration for Bureau of Trade?
What we wear, what we buy, and what we put in or on ourselves tells or telegraphs a very specific message about who we are. What we value. What our station in life is. Even where and how we envision ourselves in the world. I have always been interested in the specific history and provenance of not just of objects, but of everything. And I want to celebrate the notion of slower consumption and more purposeful purchases.
After the fifteenth, or maybe the twentieth flash-sale site meandered into my inbox, hocking unwanted, overstock drek – but purporting to sell something of genuine value – I made up my mind. I left my job as a designer at IDEO, and started a company that would make men smarter, make them laugh, and connect men of discernment to products with a history, products with a story, and narrative merchandise.
How is it going? Popularity wise and money wise?
Our audience is active, growing, and exceeding all of our expectations. There clearly is an appetite not just for our editorial content, but for the unique products we feature everyday. We've sold 19th century jail doors, taxidermy werewolf hands, vintage cufflinks and chronographs, antique dental equipment and classic convertibles. But I think what the team is most proud of is that we've helped a few (featured) rescue dogs find loving homes.
How do you see it growing?
As we refine what we offer on the site, we're expanding our voice to other platforms, like GQ and Gizmodo, where our content will appear this fall. We're also expanding into the brick and mortar world: stay tuned for live auctions all around the country.
How do you select the featured products? Aesthetic aside -- do you have any requirements other than what grabs your eye?
Two words dictate our selection process: beauty and authenticity. We work with a tremendous team of curators from around the world to find objects of the rarest quality and richest history. We are not a discount site; we are a value site. Items don't cost more than they should, but they never cost less than they're worth.