The return management vendor has 260 Return Bar locations across 50 metro areas, letting customers return online orders at other retailers’ stores.

Mailing back returns can be a hassle for consumers. They have to repackage the product, print the return label if it wasn’t included in the box and get it to a carrier. But that’s not all; they then must wait for the return to process and the money to make its way back into their account.

Returning a product to a store is much simpler. For retailers with a physical presence, 46.7% of shoppers in a recent survey from Internet Retailer conducted by Bizrate Insights prefer to return products to stores, while just 26.7% prefer shipping it back. Others had no preference.

Happy Returns has partnered with stationery supply chain Paper Source to bring the preference of in-store returns to online-only sellers. The return management service is opening its Return Bar in Paper Source’s 145 stores across the country, more than doubling the number of locations shoppers can return products for free.

Happy Returns now has 260 locations in 50 metro areas where it accepts returns from clients such as Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000 retailers Everlane Inc. (No. 282), Untuckit (No. 405) and Eloquii Design Inc. (No. 816). Consumers can bring in items from those retailers without repackaging them or printing a return label to get immediately refunded.


Associates at Return Bars look up orders by email—thanks to an integration into the retailers’ order management systems—inspect the item to ensure return eligibility and then scan a QR code on a return package before sealing the item inside. Retailers are notified of an authorized return and send the refund, along with an email notifying the customer the return is completed.

Happy Returns also can save online retailers money. Instead of shipping each return individually, Return Bar sends all returns, no matter the retailer its from, to Happy Returns’ own regional hub. There, it’s grouped with other returns heading to the same location, cutting down on overall shipping costs associated with returns. Founder and CEO David Sobie says that by letting Happy Returns group return shipments, retailers can get upwards of 20% savings over offering free, individual returns.

The company charges clients based on the number of returns it processes.

Return Bar locations include boutiques and college campuses, along with kiosks in malls. Sobie says Paper Source was a good fit because it has locations across the country but doesn’t compete with clients directly. Most of Happy Returns’ clients are apparel, footwear and handbag retailers.


“There is no overlapping competition,” he says, “but there are overlapping shoppers.”

And that’s the bargain for Paper Source, which Sobie says will see increased foot traffic with the new Return Bars. During a test across 18 locations that started in April, Paper Source chief operating officer Jenica Myszkowski saw a boost to retail operations, according to a press release.

“Based on our pilot program, Happy Returns visitors are new to the brand, and during their visits, they become Paper Source customers at a very encouraging rate,” she said in the release.

For Happy Returns, handing over control to a chain was a bit of a change. Traditionally, the company trained store employees on the tablet-based returns system at each location. But to roll out the Return Bars across the country, Paper Source did the training, developing the program with Happy Returns.