Lucky dip in Brussels: Store sells still-sealed unwanted Amazon parcels

A shop has opened in Brussels selling still-sealed unwanted Amazon parcels by the kilo, effectively a lottery ticket which could win the holder a connected watch, a smartphone – or a worthless trinket.

The shop called “Pile ou Face”, French for “Heads or Tails”, is located near the central square Place Flagey and offers the parcels at US$17.40 per kilo. Customers pick a box among the dozens stored in the shop and some open them on the spot.

“It is like gambling. I paid $43.54 and I got three or four headphones, I did a good job,” said Paul, who declined to give his last name.

Gisele Peeters is a bit disappointed, though. Her $15.69 parcel contained an old-style telephone with a dial. “It’s not something I would have bought. I’ll try to resell it,” she said.

Arnaud Userstam, who founded the shop, said connected watches and smartphones are the items people are happiest to get, but others return home with clothes, or sometimes especially weird items.

“A lady got 100 toothbrushes for dogs,” he said.

Userstam started the business after he and his wife wondered what happened with parcels with delivery problems after experiencing the issue themselves. They found out other similar shops existed elsewhere.

Pile ou Face signed contracts with the giant US e-retailer Amazon in Europe to get parcels that were not retrieved from pickup places, that were returned by customers or simply got lost.

Userstam did not elaborate on the contracts, though he said that previously these parcels were just destroyed.

  • Reporting by Marta Fiorin and Inti Landauro, Editing by Charlotte Van Campenhout and Toby Chopra, of Reuters.

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