Cash-strapped, but have a killer wardrobe? We’ve talked before about renting out your clothing, but that’s not the only way your closet is actually an untapped bank account.
If you can stand to sell off some of your gently-worn (or never-worn) sartorial possessions, then think of your overflowing closet as a great way to make some quick money -- and potentially lots of it.
While eBay remains a go-to marketplace for online sellers, a growing number of overlooked options are attracting more business from wallet-conscious fashion lovers of all stripes. Try your luck on one of these online secondhand shops and turn your extra clothes into a little extra cash in your bank account.
Here are some of our favorite sites:
This site rules, even if its name is a shameless knockoff of Etsy, the pioneering artists’ market. While you could sell your clothes on Etsy as well, that site only accepts vintage duds aged 20 years and older. Steering clear of Etsy’s homespun quirk, the Tradesy audience skews toward the young, female and label-savvy.
Got a DVF wrap dress you’d like to list? Five-year-old Tory Burch flats with the designer’s signature gold insignia? A wedding dress you want to purge, post-divorce? Hawk ‘em here. The good news: You can advertise an item from any brand, so long as it’s in good condition. Promote your wares free of charge, set your own prices and keep 91% of your revenue from selling to other site members.
In a recent review, Chicago-based fashion blogger Avant Girl -- a power user on Tradesy -- said she was less than impressed when the platform delayed notification of the sale of her Dolce & Gabbana sandals. But on the bright side, she received cash in her account within 24 hours of shipping the luxury kicks to their new owner.
This online store buys and sells secondhand clothing from certain brands that run the gamut from the upscale (YSL, Vera Wang, Barneys CO-OP) to the cheap-and-chic (ASOS, Topshop, Madewell). Check out the full list of brands they accept, and take note: items must be younger than five years old and “lightly used” -- with the exception of vintage handbags. There’s a lot of Anthropologie, Banana Republic and J.Crew -- if you’re a mall girl like yours truly, you’ll clean up bigtime in this space.
All you have to do is print the site’s prepaid shipping label (or request a shipping bag), mail in your items and await an offer based on factors like brand and consumer demand. Twice isn’t a traditional consignment store: the site buys your items from you, then sells them to others. This means you’ll get paid a lump sum upfront via PayPal rather than waiting for what seems like forever to make a sale and collecting just a portion of the profits. Ka-ching!
For feedback from frequent Twice-sellers, check out this helpful conversation on the fashion forum YouLookFab, where members advise selling mid-priced brands -- the site’s biggest draw -- rather than designer in order to get more bang for your buck.
This popular hand-me-down portal refers to your old clothing as “pre-loved,” a smart (and really cute) way to spin a “social” secondhand business that connects buyers with sellers’ virtual boutiques. Shoppers can “heart” the items they’re eyeing -- a great way for vendors to gauge demand and adjust pricing in response.
Threadflip offers two selling options: the Twice-esque “full-service” treatment, where the site takes care of the photography and marketing and collects a 40% commission; and the “list-it-yourself” approach, which follows Tradesy’s DIY model and nets you a bigger cut of the selling price -- 80%, to be exact.
The site focuses on women-centric merch but will accept unisex accessories and tech-y accoutrements like smartphone cases and charms. Men’s clothing, lingerie and knockoff Chanel handbags need not apply.
Inspired by Pinterest, Poshmark is a mobile social app that allows you to open your closet to other subscribers who share your size, shape and sense of style. Follow your favorite closets, and vice versa. Initially, this comes off a little “Single White Female,” but it’s an irresistibly fun (not to mention time-sucking!) way to sell and shop. Shoppers can also browse by brand using a category search to aggregate items from Poshmarkers offering your desired label.
You’ll keep 80% of the sale price, plus ship for free with a label from the app. If you’re into clothing swaps in the real world, consider co-hosting a themed shopping party through the app to connect with even more potential buyers.
Word from the wise: Style blogger Tania Ginoza warned in a review of the site that you might have to work harder to make a sale than you would on other sites, since you’ll need to become more involved in the community of active users.
“Unlike eBay where you list and forget about it until an inquiry or a sold notice shows up in your inbox, poshing is social,” she wrote recently. “You follow others’ closets and they follow yours. Sharing is caring… you share an item you like in someone’s closet and they’ll likely return the favor. Sharing is important because it exposes your listing to other poshers that may not be following you or searching for your particular item.”
This recession-era service has an appealingly approachable and down-to-earth quality despite its emphasis on luxury. Approved brands range from high-end (Armani, Gucci and Prada) to mass (BEBE, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft); however, citing buyers’ preference, the company prefers to resell the most upmarket of designer oldies-but-goodies. The company no longer takes Gap, American Eagle or Express -- but it will say yes to J.Crew, J.Jill, Steve Madden, French Connection, among other chains.
To consign, submit a list of the clothes you’d like to send them, then wait for a letter of acceptance listing which items pass Recycle’s litmus test. Mail those in and you’ll see them posted on the site within days. You’ll be paid once an item sells, and if it goes for $499 or less, you earn 50% of the sale price. If an item sells for $500 or above, you get 60%.
A couple of bonuses: free shipping and enthusiasm for bridal garments (including that wedding gown you’ll never wear again)!
Your Turn: Are we missing any sell-worthy sites? Tell us about your favorite place to resell your clothes!
Erin Carlson is a writer and dedicated clotheshorse living in Chicago. Follow her on Twitter at @ErinLCarlson.