Saturday, July 30, 2011

How To: Selling Clothes at Secondhand Shops

Long ago, I promised a rundown on how to sell your secondhand clothes as part 3 in a series of posts on how to clean out your closet. So long ago, in fact, that I’m almost too embarrassed to put this up. But better late than never?

Remember when we cleaned our closets?

I broke this down into two sections, what I know works based on discussions with the lovely ladies at a number of Crossroads Trading Co. locations and what I think works based on my own twisted logic and superstition.

What Definitely Works
These tips are culled from consignment and secondhand stores’ buying tips. I’d rate them as must-follows:
  1. Call ahead – The best way to find out what a store is buying right now? Ask. They don’t want to look through a bunch of things they don’t want any more than you want to lug in your clothes to find out they don’t want them. So save everyone the trouble and call ahead. Another good resource is the store’s website. They’ll do their best to give you a good idea of what they are looking for.
  2. In season – I know you’re excited to get rid of your heavy sweaters in the middle of July and save the space in your dresser (Incidentally, that’s where they should be. Sweaters shouldn’t go on hangers.)

    However, no one in the Northern Hemisphere is looking to buy sweaters in July, so a secondhand shop won’t buy them. Which is just as well. You don’t want to throw out clothing you might want when the season’s change. Look through what’s suited to the season in your wardrobe, if you’re not wearing it now, you don’t wear it, and it can go.
  3. On trend – You might have a great pair of designer jeans, but if they’re wide legs from the late 90s, no one is going to buy. Your mileage may vary in vintage shops, but most places won’t take a chance on a look that couldn’t be straight off the racks at H&M.
  4. Keep it clean – It may seem like a no-brainer, but bring in clean clothes in good condition. For an added bonus, fold them neatly before taking them in. Try to give the buyers the idea that you take good care of your clothes all the time. Even if your room looks like mine:
It's not always like this . . . only usually.

What I Think Works
These might be insane, but they seem to work for me, so I thought I would share:

  1. Brand Names – So I have to admit that I will hold onto massive amounts of clothing until I know I can take everything in with one super expensive brand name.

    You know, the kind you don’t care about but you think everyone else does? The kind that I will brag more about getting cheap at Goodwill even though I get more use out of a Target dress? Yeah, those. I may be crazy, but I always feel like I sell more stuff when I have one of those brands with me to sell.

    I do this in one of two ways:

    -- Wait until I am ready to part with something I wear. Either because I’ve stopped wearing it or it doesn’t fit. What I never do is part with something I’m still wearing on a regular basis. Don’t do it; it’s never worth it.

    -- When Goodwill has a $2 sale or there’s a super deal on an item that’s not my size or style (like the $4.49 deal I got on an Escada skirt that was old enough to have been made in West Germany). Remember though: you’re almost never going to be given much more than $10 for any one piece of clothing, so don’t go overboard on buying to sell and don’t make a special trip for it.
  2. Dress nicely – I think this is total superstition, but I feel like if I look like I just rolled out of bed, it’s a subtle sign to the buyer that I don’t care about my clothes. I don’t feel that way myself, but I can’t get over the idea that other people must think that, so I try fancy myself up a bit.

Cash or Credit? Most places offer a store credit or cash option, with a lesser amount if you choose cash. This is always a difficult question for me. On the one hand, it’s more money in credit; on the other, cash is more like money than store credit.
I tend to go with cash because, ultimately, I don’t shop in places that I take clothes to sell. I am a super stuck-up thrifter and like the cheaper prices and do-gooder feeling of shopping at charity shops. It’s a fairly personal choice, so go with your gut.

What about you? What tips do you have for selling clothes?

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