Every so often, you need to clean out your closet(s). Regardless of your reasons for the clean-out, you probably don't want to throw away perfectly good clothes—and that means your options are to donate or to sell. If you choose to sell used clothes, you have more than a few options: We talked to two experts to find the best places to sell your used clothes online and locally.
Meet the Expert
“In order to decide where to sell your clothes, it's helpful to first think about what category your clothes fit into,” said Jennifer Mielke of Style Crush. These categories include designer, trendy/higher value retailers, and discount/lower value brands.
Then, Mielke said, figure out how much time and energy you want to invest in selling your clothes. Are you willing to put in extra effort for extra cash? Are you willing to try a few places to get the best price? Or do you just need to get these items out of your closet, and earning some cash is a bonus? With those logistics in mind, you can start considering which of the most common resale options would be right for you.
A Local Consignment Store
Consignment stores pay you a percentage of the sale price for your clothing once it sells. “Typically, an appointment is needed for the store owner to set the prices for the items that they'd like to try to sell, then once any items sell, you are paid a percentage of the sale price,” said Sadie Cherney, owner of three Clothes Mentor women's resale boutiques in South Carolina. Some consignment stores offer to let customers retrieve unsold items, and some donate them to charity.
Consignment stores may accept a wider variety of items and offer a higher percentage of the sale price to their sellers than resale shops do, according to Cherney.
Understanding the contract at a consignment store is vital, especially with high-dollar or luxury items.
“It's important to know how long an item has to sell before that item gets discounted, and if it's a luxury item, it's important that you and the consignment store are on the same page about how low you are willing to price your item before you get it back,” Cherney said. It's also smart to understand what happens if the item is damaged or stolen.
Generally, consignment stores take a small selection of designer and higher quality items. “Split is often 50/50, paid upon sale, and your effort is limited to dropping off your items,” Mielke said.
Market value in the community the store serves is also something to consider. “If you have a high value item, it's probably worth seeking out a consignment store in a more expensive area to get the best price or the highest likelihood of selling your item,” Mielke said. (Though it's worth noting that consignment shoppers in high-end areas may also be the most discerning shoppers.)
A Local Buy/Sell/Trade Store
Local buy/sell/trade stores generally focus on trendy items and buy most inventory outright—meaning you get a set price for each of your items, regardless of what they sell for. “Great if you want the cash upfront, but the trade off is the value you get is pretty low,” Mielke said. This option can be pretty low effort, but also, the buying process in which the store buys your items can feel a little demoralizing: They're focusing on fast turnover and usually have specific items they're buying at any given time.
Resale shops are a good option for anyone seeking instant gratification for selling their used clothing. “Resale shops pay their sellers upfront, so when they complete the transaction, they walk away with cash in hand, versus traditional consignment models where the seller only receives payment once the items have sold,” Cherney said.
Convenience is a huge benefit of resale stores. You typically leave the store with cash. “This means that if your items are damaged, stolen, or never sell while on the sales floor, it doesn't affect you, since you've already been paid,” Cherney said. They also don't require appointments and typically buy all seasons of merchandise year-round, so you can clean out your whole closet without having to store some items to sell next season. With resale stores assuming financial responsibility upfront, they tend to be highly selective in the items they purchase.
With this option for selling used clothing, sellers do a lot of the work themselves—but they also have a lot of control. “They photograph their items and write their descriptions. They interact with potential customers directly to answer questions, then the website processes the transaction. Once the items have sold and the customers approve of their condition, the money is released to the seller,” Cherney said.
These websites have varying payment structures: Some charge per listing and most charge a percentage of the sale. They may also have a secondary charge for merchant services that pay for the use of secure payment platforms like Shopify or Paypal. Some of these sites also have a bargaining or negotiating culture, so both the buyers and the platform itself may ask sellers to lower their prices.
“The sellers are in complete control of the listings and will typically net the highest percentage for their items using this method,” Cherney said. They can list on their own terms and generally have large audiences viewing their items.
“Photographing items, managing descriptions, and answering seller questions is very time-intensive, especially when shipping and handling is factored in,” Cherney said. For apparel items, which often sell for between $15 and $25, it may not be worth the time and effort.
Popular clothing reselling sites include ThredUp and TheRealReal. “ThredUp might be a good option if you want to just send your pieces in and be done with them,” Mielke said. ThredUp takes everything from fast fashion to designer items, but the payout can be low. TheRealReal takes a similar approach to a local consignment store, but with greatly expanded reach. “If you have designer or high value items and want to sell them with little effort, this may be your best bet,” Mielke said.
Poshmark and Depop are other options for selling used clothes online. “Poshmark and Depop are two of the biggest, but with millions of items listed monthly, getting your items seen by the right buyers on these platforms doesn't come easy,” Mielke said.
With either, you'll likely need to invest time into updating your listings regularly, Mielke warned. This involves going on the app and "sharing" or "editing" your items, which boosts them to the top of buyer search results. “You'll have to invest time in photographing, interacting with buyers, and in the event your item sells, then packaging and shipping them,” she added.
Overall, Mielke cautioned that clothing holds a lower cash value than what most resellers might expect or hope for. “There is such an abundance of great secondhand that most resale platforms are swimming in inventory,” Mielke said.
For those who are less worried about earning the most income possible from their unwanted clothes, swapping is great option. “Clothing swaps between friends are so much fun, but for simplicity's sake, I always recommend a company called Swap Society,” Mielke said.
You can find everything from affordable store brands to designer labels in Swap Society's collection, and every one is $4.99 plus a certain number of points, relative to its value. Swappers can earn points by sending items in to swap. There's a reasonable membership fee, as well. “What I especially love is that they take ALL brands as long as the clothing is in good, wearable condition, so it's a great option for people looking to get some value out of items they have from brands that don't traditionally hold value in the resale space,” Mielke said.
If you're less interested in getting top-dollar for your items and more interested in getting rid of them, check if you have someone in your network who is a reseller, and hand off your items to them. “Individual resellers work really hard, and your contribution to their hustle will likely be highly appreciated,” Mielke said. You can negotiate a flat fee or per-item payment, so you'll get some money for your items without too much effort on your part.