I have a lot of clothes, ok? Some people call this behavior “hoarding,” I prefer to call it “professional collecting.” But with 5 closets, even I eventually run out of space, so every few months I purge my closet (a little… more on that later) and sell it!
Selling clothes is an art and a science. You have to bring the right stuff, to the right place, at the right time. It can be a little frustrating, not to mention stressful, when your thangs are being judged so here’s my guide on how to make dat $$ selling your clothes via consignment, high-end buyout, lower-end buyout, and vintage!
Obvious (And Not So Obvious) Thangs to Get Out Of The Way:
Rule of Thumb: Would you buy your own item in the store if you saw damage? If the answer is no, don’t even bother. These people have hawk eyes and you are NOT going to fool them. Trust me, I’ve tried.
- Clothes: No (unintentional) holes, rips, tears, stains, bleach marks, missing buttons, broken zippers, pilling, runs etc.
- Shoes: No dirt, scuffs, stains, missing buckles, broken straps/ heels etc.
- Merch should be good as new! With tags may = more $$
- Missing labels: Items with missing labels can still be sold if they are good quality and in good condition. Don’t get any funny ideas though- cutting off your Forever 21 tag and trying to pass that shirt off as rag & bone is not going to work.
- Exception: minor damage to high-end / designer pieces may still qualify, but don’t expect to bring in a Prada bag missing the strap or an H&M shirt with a hole in the armpit.
- Other Exception: sometimes you get lucky and get “the new girl” or someone is in a good mood and you can get away with merch that normally would be passed on. Those are good days.
- Merch is not cleaned by the store. That’s right. If you shop there, that merch has not been washed by the store. (IMHO it’s not any worse off than new clothes you try on at a department store) Bring it in clean!!
- Stores may steam garments if they are nicer pieces, but bring your clothes in ready condition i.e. not wrinkly and smelly.
- Put your better stuff on top! If you put your shitty stuff on top they are more likely to stop looking through your bag (they don’t have to finish) or will be judging the rest harder. Set yourself up for success!
Desired Merch & Style:
- Varies by store type, location, and SEASON! Bring stuff in ahead of the season, i.e. coats in fall, shorts in spring. Don’t clean out your coats at the end of winter and expect to sell them once it gets warm…durrr.
- Swimsuits & lingerie not typically accepted; accessories accepted in limited amounts
- Brand: these days most brands have multiple levels- you know that, and so do the buyers. Marc Jacobs is not equal to MARC by Marc Jacobs.
- Confused? If you want to know what styles, brands or seasons they are buying- call before you go in!
Pricing & Selling Strategy:
- Everything is negotiable! If you think they’re under pricing you, say it! But be careful and realistic, if you’re too pushy and annoying they might not take your stuff. Generally, they know how to price correctly for their store so merch sells, but sometimes you can squeeze out a few extra cents. Take a look around the store to get an idea of their prices.
- Percentages on buyouts are not negotiable, consignment may be.
- You can always just ask for their price and think about it. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to see what your stuff is worth, there is no pressure to give them the items. They understand this- it’s part of the biz.
- Some stores buy every hour they are open (i.e. Crossroads) while others only have specific buying hours (like Wasteland). Call before you go in to make sure there is someone there to buy.
- Pro-tip: avoid Mondays- that’s the day professional clothes sellers (aka not you cleaning out your closet) go to sell their goods after the weekend.
- Pro-tip 2: make a day out of it and plan to hit up a few stores at a time. I try to either cluster 2-3 in Santa Monica, Hollywood or East side depending on where I am/ what I am selling
Types of Stores (In Order of How I Sell):
1. Consignment: My spot, Haute Seconds
About: Consignment stores are typically higher end. They take higher end merchandise, and obviously price them higher. Designer clothes and goodies belong here.
Clientele & Style: Skews older, but trendy & contemporary pieces work here. Some vintage may work if it is extraordinary, designer or back in style (think bucket bags), but not the best fit here.
Pros: Merch will be priced higher, surrounded by other quality merch and shopped by more affluent customers (who hopefully take better care handling your goods, see cons below for why that is important). You typically get a better payout, 40% for normal merch or 50% if you have really nice stuff/ a lot. You can usually negotiate this percentage, but don’t expect to if it’s just average stuff or you’ve never “done business” with the store yet.
Cons: Consignment is not for the impatient. Unlike pure buyout stores, a true consignment store does NOT pay you upfront for your goods. You will sign a contract outlining the terms of the deal and you will ONLY get paid if and when your clothes sell. If the clothes don’t sell, they get marked down (typically 20% the first month, then up to 50% the last month) which lowers the amount you will make. If it sells you’ll have to wait for them to mail you a check or go in and pick it up. If it doesn’t sell in the time period (which YOU have to pay attention to) you can call them to pick it up, otherwise if you don’t, they can donate your merch and you get zilch. Some places don’t even offer the option to pick up if it doesn’t sell, so make sure you ask!
Also, if merch gets damaged or stolen the store is not going to be responsible or reimburse you. This is to prevent people from coming in, stealing their own merch and trying to get paid. It is a real risk, and makes consignment sound a little scary, but this is very rare and honestly not something to worry much about.
Pricing: Items typically priced at 50% retail (if mint) or less
2. Higher End Buyout Stores: My spot, Wasteland
About: Buyout stores do exactly that- they buy your clothes outright, price where they think it will sell and you get a certain percentage. Some stores may offer 50% store credit (not Wasteland), but most only offer around 35% immediate cash. Sometimes limited consignment is available but only for high-end, designer pieces like bags & shoes. Terms are similar to above.
Clientele & Style: mostly post-grad crowd, trendy and fashion forward. Vintage not a great seller here, but some exquisite or on-trend pieces may work.
Pros: Obviously biggest pro here is the immediate cashout, no waiting game (unless you consign).
Cons: You don’t make as much since items are not priced as high as consignment, you may have to wait a long time if there are a lot of people selling, it can be uncomfortable watching them go through your stuff.
Tips: They like unique stuff here- Melrose location takes funkier stuff than Santa Monica.
Pricing: Loosely tied to the item’s original price, but generally tied to prices by item type.
Bottom Line: If you want to make the most $$ back from your relatively new goods and have contemporary style, this is for you.
3. Lower-End Buyout: My spots, Crossroads Trading & Buffalo Exchange
About: Just like higher-end buyout stores, but more willing to take non-name brand or less pristine items. I only go here after I’ve tried the other 2 because items are always priced lower (to the point that it is sometimes insulting). Most stores offer 50% store credit and 35% immediate cash. Sometimes limited consignment is available but only for high-end, designer pieces like bags & shoes and they’ll sell for less than at places like Wasteland. Terms are similar to above.
Clientele & Style: younger, more budget friendly shoppers; trendy, but not as picky. No vintage.
Pros: Immediate cashout, good place to get rid of stuff that you really don’t want and don’t care how much you get for it, no waiting game (unless you consign).
Cons: You really don’t make much $$, you may have to wait a long time if there are a lot of people selling, it can be uncomfortable watching them go through your stuff.
Tips: Some stores offer drop off service where you can bring in your goods and come back later once the process is done. This always sketches me out a little bit but I have friends who do it and swear by it. They may even donate whatever clothes they pass on for you (if you want).
Also- take in your weird ish (if it’s in good condition) you’d be surprised by some of the things they’ll accept!
Pricing: Items mostly priced by type in set ranges
**ugh, so depressing
Bottom Line: If you would rather get something than nothing and have time to kill, go for it! If you don’t have the time- donate it! Who throws away clothes, honestly!?!?
4. Vintage Styles: My spots, Squaresville & Painted Bird
About: Great Eastside spots if you have serious vintage items (like a full sequined leopard print Carmen Marc Valvo dress you thought was a great idea, or the velvet body suit you also were pumped about). Painted Bird is smaller and better edited, Squaresville can be super picky.
Clientele & Style: hip n cool, funky, eclectic one-of-a-kind pieces
Pros: Finally, places that buy my amazeballs vintage stuff. Also great if you’re helping grandma clean out her closet $$
Cons: They’re not really interested in your modern stuff, even if it’s brand name
Tips: The older and weirder the better! Think sequined blazers, paisley print rompers, bomber and varsity jackets, overalls etc.
Pricing: Much better than what you’ll get for the items at a Wasteland or Crossroads. Squaresville has 35% cash, 55% trade-in value; Painted Bird is 30% cash, 50% trade.
5. Garage Sale
Anyone who wants to come over and buy my brown velvet tunic is welcome! I give you good price- only $5!
How To Sell Your Clothes Online: eBay, Poshmark, Tradesy, the Real Real etc.