How I Made $3K Off of My Old Clothes
Let me preface by saying that I live in a constant state of closet clean-out mode. For me, the thought of doing a mass overhaul of my closet once a year or so is incredibly daunting. (I’ve tried it, and the theme of the project is always indecision and procrastination—not the best combination.) Accordingly, I prefer to sift through my wardrobe more regularly to see which pieces I’m feeling ready to part with (it can change on a whim), selling pieces on eBay as I go along.
When faced with an impending cross-country move late last summer and an overflowing closet I didn’t particularly want to make the cross-country move along with me in its entirety (how many chambray shirts and pairs of black ankle boots does one truly need?), I amped up my regular closet clean-outs to almost daily clean-outs, making separate piles for the items to donate, consign, and sell on eBay.
As a fashion editor, it’s my duty to keep up with the fashion world and dress the part. And of course I love shopping, but I certainly don’t have an unlimited budget for it. To get around financial constraints, I often shop sales and eBay to acquire the pieces that I covet while regularly reselling items that I tire of. I can then use the cash to shop for new pieces, guilt-free.
While I know that my situation isn’t applicable to everyone, I do think that my personal experience and what I’ve learned along the way can be helpful no matter what you have to sell. Which is why I diligently kept records along the way, starting last summer up until the present. By keeping track of what I sold everywhere and for how much, I’m able to paint a clear picture of how much the price differentiated with different methods of resale for similar pieces. I even came to the conclusion that I’ll never again use one method of resale in particular (more on that later).
Keep scrolling to hear my personal account of how I made nearly $3K by selling my old clothes, and to shop a lust-worthy assortment of pieces that may put you in closet clean-out mode, too! How’s that for motivation?
I’d frequented these types of resale stores occasionally in the past and found them to be very picky and the small amount of money offered to be not worth the hassle. But for the sake of moving, I decided to give it another try. The items that I put in the resale chain store pile were a step up from those that I donated (those being the slightly damaged and more well-worn, off-brand, out-of-style pieces), including recognizable brands that were no longer as stylish as they once were. I like the fact that at these stores, you get your money up-front, in cash. What I was surprised to find is that the store turned down many of my pieces, reason being that they were too fashion-forward for the store’s clientele. The pieces they did take were for a very low price (not surprisingly, given my past experiences), and I kept those that I wasn’t willing to sell at the offered price. They will negotiate with you at this type of store, but not much. So I took my $37 and added the pieces that I kept from the transaction to my pile for my next attempt—a designer resale store.
Designer resale stores, also commonly referred to as consignment stores, have more of a boutique feel that I thought would be perfect for some of the higher-end and more on-trend pieces that I’d attempted to sell on eBay to no avail. I’d been reluctant to try consignment selling in the past, turned off by the waiting period while my clothes collected dust in the store, barring me from selling them elsewhere. You don’t get a check until your clothes sell, and many stores only cut checks once a month or so, eventually returning back to you the items that didn’t sell after a certain period. All a little off-putting for someone that’s used to the control you have over your items when selling on eBay and the like. The store that I decided to sell with accepted almost all of my pieces, and many of the prices they decided on were higher than I expected. I was to receive 30% of everything that sold.
The outcome? I do think that it was worth the trouble, in this case. I probably could’ve received a higher return with eBay, but it would’ve included a lot more trips to the post office and possibly a dozen or more eBay relists to sell them.
I’ve waxed poetic about my affinity for eBay in the past (here and here). The site is more user-friendly than ever, and while it can take a good bit of persistence to get certain items sold, the feeling when they finally do sell and you can remove them from your closet to make way for something new makes it all worth it.
The key to selling on eBay, in addition to great photos and a descriptive title, is to know what brands to sell and for how much. With a little research before listing a piece, it’s easy to see which brands have an overwhelming amount of inventory and will get lost in the shuffle, and alternatively, which brands garner the most interest (based on bids and watchers) and have a smaller inventory.
As you can see from my selling experience over the last few months, designer handbags, shoes, and jeans in particular are always a better bet for eBay than a resale store (I was offered $7 for one of the handbags that I sold on eBay for $52), as well as in-demand brands like Reformation and Ulla Johnson.
My takeaway? Resale chain stores are to be avoided, and eBay is the way to go for more popular brands and designer pieces, while designer resale/consignment stores are the way to go for anything that may get lost in the shuffle on eBay and that you’re not worried about getting a sizable return on. All in all, my experience proved to be pretty painless and entirely worth the trouble, thanks to the payout and the extra space in my closet—both of which I imagine I’ll be putting to good use.
How do you go about selling your clothes? Tell us in the comments below!
Opening Image: The Coveteur