I don’t remember exactly how it all got started, but last fall I fell in love with reselling my used clothes, shoes, and purses. Since then I have probably sold around 100-150 items (some of them being things my sisters were getting rid of and asked me to sell for them), and I have definitely learned a few tricks of the trade along the way. And the best surprise? There’s a market for brands that I actually have in my closet, like J.Crew, Loft, Ugg, Nike, Boden, Land’s End, etc, not just super high-end, designer brands, which is what I had kind of assumed before!
Why my sudden selling frenzy? I realized that I was holding onto a lot of clothing and shoes that I never wore (either because of fit, style, or usefulness in my everyday life) just due to the fact that they were “nice” items and I knew I had paid a lot for them in the first place, so I couldn’t bear to let go. When it comes down to it, though, doesn’t it make more sense to sell a few pieces of clothing that you don’t even really want anymore, and use that money to buy something updated that you are truly in love with? Plus, there’s something very feng shui about some additional white space in your closet or dresser. Trust me, do yourself a favor, de-clutter, and make some cash while you’re at it!
There are actually a LOT of options out there for getting some return on your old clothes. I am only highlighting a few, mostly because these are options that I have tried and have worked well for me. I will outline the pros and cons of each resale venue and you can decide for yourself which sounds like the best fit for your items/the amount of time and effort you want to put into cleaning out your closet. I would really love to hear about any other sources or strategies you have used in the comments!
1. eBay: The site that started the online selling frenzy for us all! You can’t really beat it in terms of vast selection and the randomness of what you can buy and sell there!
- You get to set your own prices for your items
- Pretty user-friendly: the site walks you through the process and suggests prices for your items, prompts you to ship, you can print shipping labels from the site, etc.
- Auction-style format can drive the price much higher
- Protection from eBay’s policies should something go wrong with the sale
- Sales format already in place and streamlined
- HUGE global audience that visits regularly
- You can sell anything (as long as it’s not counterfeit or against eBay policy)!
- It takes a lot of time to take pictures, list items according to eBay format, and then ship them!
- Another aspect of shipping items yourself is the need to obtain all of the packing materials which can be an additional cost and annoyance if you don’t have envelopes on hand.
- You have to pay a small percentage of your sale to eBay (and I’m going to be totally honest and say their calculation method confuses the heck out of me–but you can learn more details here), as well as to PayPal
- Buyers sometimes flake out and you have to relist an item
- The process of getting rid of a lot of items can be drawn out over a very long time as all items won’t sell at once and you will relist a lot of things. So if you have like 20 things you want to sell, you could be shipping things for months!
- I’ll be the first to admit that the auction format has bitten me in the bum a few times. You usually start things quite low and hope for a few bids. Well, if there’s only one bid you have suddenly sold a wool sweater for like $3 🙂 They do offer fixed-price listings too, though I haven’t had as much luck with those.
2. Brick and Mortar Resale Shops (such as Plato’s Closet, etc.)
- Quickest way to get money–you can clean out your closet and cash in on your items in the same afternoon.
- Probably the option that takes the absolute least effort–no mailing, taking pictures, setting up an online account, etc!
- You have the option of walking away if you don’t like their offer since you are there in person
- If you take the store credit option instead of cash, you can actually see and try on items and don’t have to worry about mailing returns, etc., so if you’re not big on shopping online that’s helpful
- They can be extremely picky about what they take, especially with how old something is. Plato’s closet’s website says that they prefer clothes that are only 12-18 months old. So that really narrows down what you can get rid of!
- The return isn’t as high as selling items individually, which is to be expected–you aren’t doing much of the work you would if you chose eBay or other options where you organize the sale yourself.
- If you take in-store credit, you won’t have as high of a selection as an online boutique. And from what I have seen, the styles reflect more teenage trends and will obviously reflect local tastes.
- You still have to haul away and donate what they don’t accept.
3. Online shops: There are TONS of companies now that accept shipments of your used clothes–they pay shipping!–and then offer shop credit (where you can shop a wide variety of brands), or cash via PayPal (usually the store credit is a higher amount, though). Two companies I have personally sold and purchased from ThredUp several times, so I will refer to my experiences with them. But this article refers to several others so if anyone has experience with those let me know what you thought!
- My experience has been that they accept and offer a much wider variety of brands, sizes, etc. than a brick and mortar resale shop. Both sites I have used have lists of what brands they do and don’t accept so you know upfront not to send certain things. ThredUp also buys and sells kid’s clothes!
- Other than getting online and ordering your shipping bag, and then either dropping it off or scheduling a postal pickup, this is a very low-effort option. You just send a big bag of clothes and wait for an email with an offer for what they will accept.
- Twice and ThredUp (let me know about any other sites you have tried!) are also less picky about how old the item is than I have found my local resale shops to be. Obviously they don’t want super old and out-of-style items but ThredUp’s site says they will accept clothes “from the last few years,” as opposed to the last 18 months. I have had them accept things that were at least four years old if they were in great condition and still in style.
- If the site doesn’t accept your item (and in my experience they only accept half or less than half of what you send), you can either pay a fee to have your clothes returned, or they will recycle the clothing or donate it to charity. So don’t send things you are really attached to unless you want to essentially buy it back (granted, for a much lower price than you probably paid for it. I think Twice charges $5 to send your stuff back).
- You definitely won’t get as high a return as if you listed individual items on eBay or Instagram yourself. For example, Twice says they typically pay $4-6 for a Banana Republic dress. I have sold a few Banana items on eBay for around $15-20.
- If you want money quickly, this isn’t the best option. It can takes several weeks or sometimes over a month for your package to arrive at their warehouse, and then for it to be processed.
4. Instagram: Ok, here is where I get into uncharted territory. I have never personally sold anything on Instagram but it is a format that has gained such momentum lately I knew I couldn’t leave it out! Just searching the hashtag #shopmycloset brings up over one million photos! I did a little research and here are my (*non-expert!*) opinions of the pros and cons of this option for reselling. This post is super-duper helpful at offering step-by-step instructions, if you are interested in starting an Insta shop!
- No fees from Instagram!!!!! (except whatever payment option you use, such as PayPal, but their fees are relatively low). At least, until Instagram decides to figure out a way to charge :). I think that’s pretty awesome.
- You determine the price yourself, much like eBay.
- More personal, and maybe more fun! I think it would be so fun to watch the comments come in.
- The sale is really as successful as you make it–the post I referenced above has some great ideas for encouraging shares and getting the word out there.
- No site policies or requirements, it’s all up to you to make your own rules. Some of eBay’s policies annoy me so that sounds great to me.
- This option is probably the most work on your part of all the resale options I have listed here. You have to decide the guidelines for your sale, do the advertising, figure out how to get payment, etc. PLUS take photos and write descriptions. And then ship it all.
- If you don’t have a lot of Insta followers it seems like it would be harder to gain an audience. But I am curious how the hashtagging helps, so please let me know in the comments if you’ve had a sale and gotten a lot of traffic from new followers!
- You don’t have the protection that a company like eBay can offer. If someone doesn’t come through with payment you don’t really have anything you can do about it.
- It seems like people don’t usually just list one or two items here or there (most people do a larger sale with quite a few things all at once), which is one thing I like about eBay. But if you had a lot of clothes to get rid of, this would be a fun way to do it.
Whew! That was long. I hope this info is at least a little bit helpful for someone out there! Mostly, I hope to get the message out that there IS still life and value left in those cute items you once loved but no longer need, if they are in good condition. And, don’t forget about DONATING your stuff! Helping a good cause with your used items is also a wonderful way to clear out the clutter. 🙂
Again, if anyone has any other websites or strategies for reselling their pre-owned clothes, shoes, and accessories, let me know in the comments. Support me in my favorite obsession!