Pittsburgh couple helps consumers shop ‘lean and green’
BusinessClear Auction

Pittsburgh couple helps consumers shop ‘lean and green’

Instead of junking liquidated items from stores like Macy's and Costco, Clear Auction sells them on its online auction website.

Evgeny Kostromskoy and Ekaterina Masulis (Photo courtesy of Evgeny Kostromskoy)
Evgeny Kostromskoy and Ekaterina Masulis (Photo courtesy of Evgeny Kostromskoy)

Russian ex-patriate Evgeny Kostromskoy moved to the United States — specifically, Pittsburgh, where his brother previously immigrated — in 2009. But, it wasn’t until he started studying for his MBA at the University of Pittsburgh a few years later that he first experienced the American dream.

“I wanted to work in the corporate world,” said Kostromskoy, who lives near Regent Square. “But I got introduced to a lot of technology, to AI technology and to data sciences — and it completely changed my sense of where I wanted to be.”

After graduating in 2017, Kostromskoy — whose son, David, attends Community Day School — ventured out as a tech entrepreneur. After experimenting with a successful return-and-delivery service called PorchShip, he now is aggressively pursuing his latest venture: Clear Auction.

Clear Auction has a simple premise: Help Pittsburghers make lean, green decisions about their shopping habits. Kostromskoy, who has a background in supply chain work, buys liquidated items from national retailers like Costco and Macy’s, items destined for the landfill.

Instead of junking them, he sells them at his cleanly designed, online auction website, passing the savings — and the ability to shop as they choose — to customers, he said. Yes, bids start at $2 and it’s easy to get a plush animal for your child for $5. But dig deeper and get into the bidding, and you might find a $2,000 couch going in auction for $300.

“We try to bring the savings to the community,” Kostromskoy said, “to people who are struggling with inflation or layoffs.”

When someone wins an auction at Clear Auction, they have options, too. Kostromskoy is happy to deliver the goods directly to their home via the company’s truck or to ship them via UPS. Buyers also can pick up the items from Clear Auction’s warehouse, which is on Penn Avenue in Wilkinsburg.

Ekaterina Masulis, Kostromskoy’s wife, a Jew who emigrated from Russia to Pittsburgh, calls Evgeny “my genius” and refers to herself as “the biggest supporter.” She helps him select and list items, scan photos of the merchandise, anything to lend a hand.

“He’s started a new way and a new life,” Masulis said. “He always thinks of things to help people. His ideas are about ways to make things easier for everyone.”

Masulis loves the United States. In Russia, her family kept their Judaism secret; they didn’t exchange gifts at Chanukah or celebrate other Jewish holidays and they only told Ekaterina at age 15 that she was Jewish. Pittsburgh is dramatically different, she said.

“I’m so glad [we’re here],” Masulis said. “Now, I don’t need to hide. David and our family like to go to Chabad and celebrate holidays with the community — it’s so special.”

Lynda — who prefers not to use her last name — shops on Clear Auction every week, mostly buying toys and other items for her grandchildren.

“They were good deals,” the Bethel Park resident said. “It was just random stuff I thought the kids would like.”

Now, she’s hooked.

“I’ve bought porch chairs there,” she said. “They were new — and $50 or $60 apiece.”

Lynda likes the personal service Kostormskoy lends to the experience as well.

“It makes more sense to buy through them than to put [items] in a landfill,” she said. “There’s a lot of waste in the world. [Evgeny] is just the nicest person ever. They’re so nice and easy to work with, and so accommodating.” PJC

Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

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