I am going to be the first to admit it—I'm a bit of a hoarder. A clothing hoarder, to be exact. For as long as I can remember, every piece of clothing that I have ever owned always had a story or a memory attached to it. Yes, when it comes to a concert T-shirt or your first prom suit, there is sentimentality to it. But when you start college while your closet is overflowing, it might be time say goodbye to some items.
Now some people's first thought is to take items to the dumpster have that be the end of the story, but what if you could also earn cash for your previous purchases? Businesses like Plato’s Closet, Buffalo Exchange, Beacon’s Closet and Crossroad’s Trading Co. all specialize in secondhand clothing donation. Although they accept a range of brands and price-points, they do look for the most current styles and trends to showcase in their stores, just like regular priced retailers.
But with these retailers, it can sometimes be a game—and you have to know how to play. When I first moved to New York City, I moved in with nearly sixty pairs of jeans, forty sweaters, nearly twenty coats, and about one hundred shirts. Living on campus at the Fashion Institute of Technology didn’t really help matters either, as my room was one of the smallest on campus. Something had to go, and I looked toward my wardrobe for assistance.
I used to be rather outlandish with the way I'd dress, with exotic prints and tighter-than-average jeans, so I carefully analyzed my wardrobe and selected items that I could live without. I marched over to Buffalo Exchange in Chelsea and within my first visit, I made about $120. To a broke college student, this was ramen for two months. The bug had officially taken a bite at me, and I was instantly hooked.
Another thing to know about reselling clothes to stores though is that you don't receive the full amount back in cash or credit. These stores typically have the same rule—when they buy something from you, you can get 50 percent of what you sold it for in store credit or about 30 percent in cash. Choose wisely.
For me, one year slowly turned into four and a half years in Manhattan, and I've accumulated more clothing. When my first major boyfriend was moving in with me, it meant closet sizes had to decrease again. I would initially make seasonal trips to these locations to sell back clothes, but that turned into monthly trips. Some trips got me over $200 in cash-back; On separate occasions, there were times I only received $9.50. On trips like this, I’d treat myself to dollar pizza.
By this point I was making more than my freshmen days in college, so I could afford some more fun trendy pieces, from J.Brand to James Perse. When I went through a breakup, I needed one last large purge to rid myself of prior memories, so I gathered all the clothes with unpleasant reminders, and to my astonishment I made roughly $300 reselling them.
For those that are eagerly hoping to make a major killing when it comes to selling back previously worn clothes, take these tips from me, and you'll be well on your way.
- Be sure the clothes are not too worn—if there are noticeable stains or marks, it’s an instant no.
- As vain as this is, designer brands are an instant success. H&M Collection? Maybe. Gucci? Always.
- Certain DIY items will be taken—forget the beaded fringe vest you made in eight grade, and aim for the cut-off denim or re-purposed vest.
- If you are feeling lazy and have time on your hands, upload your items to The Real Real or Poshmark, where you can buy and resell clothes virtually.