I am a veteran at selling and buying clothing at resale stores. I first discovered secondhand stores in college and I’ve been an avid shopper ever since. The difference between second hand and thrift store is selection, pricing, and atmosphere. Instead of having to spend hours sifting through racks of ratty, old items someone has done the work for you. It is also nice to walk into a store that is clean with sorted and sized racks.
Just like the mall there is a wide variety of secondhand stores that cater to a wide variety of customers. There are shops out there that specialize in every type of clothing, from designer to vintage, career wear to casual. The beauty of this system is that you can get rid of clothes you don’t wear and turn them into cash or new items that will actually see the light of day. Read on for my tips on how to successfully get those clothes out of your closet and into a store.
1. Know the store
Not all second hand stores are the same and one shop’s top seller is someone else’s sale rack. It is a good idea to drop by the store and take a gander at the racks or call and ask what they are looking for. If you have a stack of office appropriate suits one store might say no thanks but another might take them all. Don’t be discouraged, especially if you have several secondhand shops in your area.
2. Clean and presentable
You are presenting your items for someone to buy. Make sure you have recently laundered them ( last year doesn’t count) and an iron never hurt anything. If you have handbags make sure to clean up the insides especially if your makeup exploded. Items with stains, holes, extremely faded or pilly will never make the cut so don’t bother bringing in that blouse with the ketchup stain down the front.
3. Cash, clothes, and cars
Sure it sounds like a rap video but that isn’t my point. Clothes and cars are similar in that they lose value once you drive them off the lot. When people buy used clothing they are looking for a bargain. Just because you paid $200 for that pair of Rock & Republic jeans doesn’t mean the next buyer wants to! Even if you’ve only worn (or never wore) that cocktail dress from last year’s holiday party for a few hours it makes it now used.
4. Don’t expect miracles
If you aren’t wearing it chances are no one else is either. Those gaucho pants from 5 years ago? Yea everyone hates them and admit it you do too. That said buyers really do want your closet in their inventory! Don’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions so you can figure out what is selling for them. Someone’s old shirt could be your amazing vintage rock tee find.
5. Where does that percentage go?
Don’t be surprised when the shop takes a chunk of the profits. That money goes towards paying employees, the light bill, taxes, advertising, rent etc…. If you want more money either A. try to return the item or B. take a chance on Ebay or Craigslist.
6. Know the difference
You have two choices when it comes to selling your clothes. Consignment shops typically give you 40-50% cash since you don’t get your money until the piece sells. It really isn’t any sweat off their back- you just take the piece back if it doesn’t sell but your piece could sit in the store for months. A buy/sell/trade offers 30-40% in cash but you get your money that day. Therefore if your clothing doesn’t sell at full price (or not at all) then they lose money on that item. Don’t be surprised when these types of stores charge less for the same item that a consignment shop would charge more for. Some people prefer to wait it out while others just want to get the cash up front. However almost all stores offer 50% store credit so it is usually smart to take the store credit.
7. The more current the better
So you bought into that new acid wash denim trend and you are now questioning your sanity? Bring it in. The younger the trend the more covetable it is. Hate those big exposed zippers? Someone else will love it. Can’t walk in those thigh high boots? Let someone else try. Trust me.
8. Expensive doesn’t mean better
We all love designer pieces but they still have to be cute. Just because it says “Prada” across the chest doesn’t mean it is desirable! Most people would prefer something moderately priced with a modern cut vs. something outdated just because it was expensive.
9. It is good for the environment
Selling and buying used goods has a myriad of benefits aside from padding your wallet. Selling your clothing keeps things out of landfills and buying has an even bigger impact because you are not contributing to the manufacturing of new items. For example many vegetarians feel okay buying used leather goods since they aren’t directly supporting the leather industry.
10. Great! Where can I unload my goodies?
Check out my post on buying secondhand in the New orleans area or feel free to do some name dropping in the comments w/ your favorite places to shop. I’m including my top 4 places in the 504.
Shops to try:
*indicates multiple locations