Secondhand fashion is exploding in popularity these days; by 2023, sales could top $50 billion annually.
And now it’s easier than ever to get a payoff from that special dress that no longer fits or business suit you no longer need. Instead of throwing a yard sale or dragging clothes to a consignment store, you can set up shop at several new websites for buying and selling used outfits online. Just take a few photos or throw the clothes into a box and you’re in business.
Most of the online clothing resale action is in women’s apparel; if you’re ready to sell, I think ThredUp, Poshmark and Tradesy are three of the best places to get started. (For unloading menswear, check out Mercari.) Begin with items you’re happy to give away, to learn without stress how online selling works; think of any money you make as a bonus. Check online prices before setting your own. And be patient: It takes time for things to sell and for you to get paid.
It doesn’t get any easier than this, though you’ll sacrifice profit for ease of use. Request a free Clean Out Kit from the company or slap its prepaid mailing label on your own box. Fill it up and ship it to ThredUp for free. The reseller photographs the items for you and assigns prices, which you can adjust. If a garment sells, ThredUp credits your account. The trade-off for convenience is your share of the sales price: as little as 5 percent, or 55 cents for a pair of $11 jeans. Your share rises, though, with the price tag: 30 percent for, say, a $50 top, or $15. The most you’ll get, for really costly stuff, is 80 percent. You also pay a small cut of your share if you cash out your profits, but not if you use your credit to buy other clothes on the site. ThredUp rejects most of what would-be sellers send in, including anything that has been altered or shows any signs of wear. Getting those returned costs $11 per shipment — one reason I use ThredUp only for stuff I don’t care to see again.
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Tips to avoid seller’s remorse
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Although I have had good experiences with these sites, other sellers have their complaints. Take these steps to minimize hassles and maximize earnings.
- Head off returns. Include many photos, a detailed description and measurements with listings. Note any wear and tear. This results in fewer disapppointed buyers, says Evelyne Teman, who sells as MissAisha555 on Poshmark.
- Protect your info. If you cash out your profits, many sites will direct-deposit your earnings, requiring you to share your bank account information. Instead, I always choose to be paid via check or PayPal.
- Sell valuables locally. To reduce the risk of items like gold jewelry and watches being lost, damaged or stolen, try local jewelry stores. A jeweler or a professional appraiser can tell you what your possessions are worth.
I tend to use this service for higher-quality items, because for just a little more work I can make more money per item. You use your smartphone to snap some pictures (the more the better), add a description, set a price, then post it. If your item sells, Poshmark emails you a prepaid, preaddressed mailing label so you can box it up and send it to the buyer. Among resale sites, Poshmark and ThredUp have the biggest pools of customers, but to maximize sales on Poshmark, it helps to be active in its social media community by frequently posting listings, following other sellers and sharing their posts. In return for your efforts, you get 80 percent of the sales price, or, for items less than $15, the sales price minus $2.95. There’s no fee to cash out, whether you spend the money to shop on Poshmark or request a check.
This site, which offers payouts similar to Poshmark’s, has a smaller, more designer-focused audience but is easier to use. It guides you through the listing process, enhances the photos you take and can suggest a selling price. You’ll receive about 80 percent of the sales price for items that go for $50 or more; for less expensive ones, Tradesy will instead take a $7.50 cut, which is one of the reasons I don’t sell cheaper items here. Like ThredUp, Tradesy charges a fee for cashing out that’s waived if you spend your profits on its site.
Lisa Lee Freeman, cohost of the Hot Shopping Tips podcast, was founder and editor in chief of ShopSmart magazine from Consumer Reports.