What's that adage? Every time you bring home something new, you should get rid of something old or at the very least, something you just don't wear? It's solid advice if you can follow it, but for many of us, well me, it is a huge challenge. I have a few things in my closet that belong in the Smithsonian. I hold on to stuff--not in a creepy hoarder way, but because, idk, I get somewhat emotionally attached to them. They are tangible reminders of special moments in my life. I can still remember what I wore on my first date with my hub--Jordache jeans, an oversized print shirt from Esprit de Corps, and the shoes, oh the shoes, black patent flats (avec Brogue) from Joan And David. Ok, I realize that I have just dated myself (yes, I am 100 years old) but I want you to get the picture--very Duran Duran. As time wore on, I adopted a new adage, I would, from time to time, get rid of a few things things that I no longer wore, while allowing myself to keep a few mementos along the way. Those shoes are in a box in the attic along with a couple of my favorite dresses from my days working in a downtown LA buying office (Carole Little and Norma Kamali--shoulder pads for miles).
Fast forward to 2019--I'm not as sentimental as I used to be. Sure, I still hold on to stuff, but for a different reason--I spent an embarrassing amount of money on the item in question and just can't donate it. Please don't judge me--I donate plenty of stuff to charitable organizations, but I'm talking about shirts from the Gap and not a beaded tunic from Saks that I had no business buying in the first place. Again, please no judging. So what to do with the overpriced tunic that I never wear but don't want to give away? Remember that Carrie Bradshaw quote, "I like my money where I can see it, hanging in my closet"? Well, maybe it can't hurt to cash in on that just a tad and consider selling a thing or two.
Did you know that the secondhand apparel market will hit over $20 billion this year, and that number is expected to double in the next five years? Whether it's the Marie Kondo effect, or a generation of consumers that are environmentally conscience, shoppers are discovering that they can buy well priced fashion without contributing to our global footprint, or negatively impacting their bank accounts. Whatever the reason, this secondhand wave is good news for those of us looking for a good "rags to riches" opportunity and have some goodies to sell.
Let's get started with a the basics--what type of seller you are and what selling platforms are you most comfortable with. Are you a face to face person? Then check out some consignment shops and understand the ins and outs. The advantage to a consignment/resale shop is that they do all the work for you--you just have to drop your stuff off and they take care of rest. Conversely, there is often a hefty percentage that goes to the shop--sometimes you can take the dollars in a store credit but then you're just adding stuff back in to your closet, so think twice. That said, I found myself taking a well vetted selection of bags and shoes to a local upscale consignment boutique. I kept it simple--6 pairs of barely worn Cole Haan shoes (don't ask, it was a faze), and 6 leather bags, also in excellent condition. I'm guessing that my experience was pretty standard across the board, so I will share it with you now. The first thing that happens is the intake process. Be prepared to have your loved ones closely examined--there should be no missing hardware on the bags, and the zippers etc should all work. If you still have the little cloth storage bag that often comes with a nicer bag, then make sure to include it. I also lightly packed my bags with tissue so that they would show better. The shoes should also show very minimal wear and have no signs of damage. The only item of mine that was rejected was a leather Kate Spade bag because it was missing one of those little brass feet things. Don't get your feelings hurt if something you've treasured for years is rejected, it's just the nature of the biz. So then the items and their descriptions are logged and you sign a contract with the shop. The contract includes the length of time that the shop will sell your items, what type of compensation you will receive, and what happens to the things that don't sell. My time frame was 60 days, and I had a choice of receiving either 40% of the selling price in cash, or 50% of the selling price in store credit dollars. I opted for the cash, I mean, wasn't this the point? I was allowed to check in any time and if one of my things had sold, the shop would cut me a check on the spot. This would be a good spot to discus the pricing. Essentially the shop does a little research and determines roughly what your cast-offs are worth based on online resale sites such as Ebay, and Poshmark, etc. The shop will not contact you every time something of your's sells, and it is up to you to pick up your unsold items at the end of the predetermined selling period. There is a short grace period once your term is up, and then your items will be donated to a charitable organization of the shop's choosing. In the end, I sold a couple of pairs of shoes and a few bags, so all in all, not a fruitless experience, but definitely time to explore the online market. Side note, I did come home from the consignment shop with a second hand Michael Stars dress....I'm only human.
If you're somewhat tech savvy, then you can eliminate the brick and mortar platform and sell online. There are plenty of apps and sites, like Poshmark, Ebay, The Real Real, etc., that you can explore if you decide to go the online route. I looked into Poshmark because it seemed like the most straight-forward option. All you have to do is take a couple well-lighted pics--bonus points if you include exact measurements, and any professional photos you find online (a quick google search can yield good results). Secondly, create a concise description of your product that includes how much the item has been worn or if it is "new with tags" (NWT). You might want to do some research on what key words you can put in your item profile that may entice potential buyers--think about what words or phrases make you want to splurge on an item online. Finally, decide the price you think your item is worth. Shoppers are allowed to make a counter offers and ask questions for each item. I found that pricing items a little bit higher than what I initially thought I wanted to sell them for was an effective method to get a desired profit from each sale. Remember, customers will want to haggle in the marketplace and Poshmark takes about 20% of each sale! Don't forget, with the online options that there is a certain amount of time a day you'll need to carve out to keep your "showroom" updated, all your pending questions answered, and to share your items so that the algorithm is working its best for you. On average, a 30 minute a day commitment spent liking others' posts and following other users. It's a small chore, but well worth it if you want to make a quick buck off items you otherwise would have given away, or left at the consignment shop.
We've recently had a couple of blogs up encouraging some close examination of your closet that have asked the questions, do you wear it, and does it bring you joy. If you are looking at a couple of bags filled with some of your things that elicited a no answer to either of those questions, then maybe it's time to try something new. Sure, you can find the random dime or two between the cushions on your sofa, or you can skip the small change and go straight to your closet.