If you’re riding the Marie Kondo decluttering wave and organizing your life, now’s the perfect time to turn your closet clutter into cash.
I paired my wardrobe down years ago, sold several items online, and today it’s turned into a fun hobby. Selling clothing online has even turned into a full time gig for some.
The average American spends roughly $150 per month on clothing according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report on consumer spending.
However, Bankrate reported that only 39% of the US population could afford a $1,000 emergency per its Financial Security Index Survey. Clearly we’re buying more than we need, and our financial health is suffering.
Imagine how many hundreds of dollars are lurking in our closets collecting dust. A bridesmaid’s dress from 2008. That vintage pair of leather pants you swore you’d wear one day (guilty). Or that chunky sweater you love, but hasn’t been touched in ages. Why not turn that clutter into cash?
If you’re anything like me, a few extra Benjamins in the bank account add up. Not only does it provide peace of mind for when emergencies pop up, but paying down debt or using it for a fun splurge is even better. I’ve purchased a least a few plane tickets with my earnings!
The resale market is booming, while traditional retail stores are filing for bankruptcy. Gymboree just announced its plans to close all 800 remaining stores. The earning potential is definitely there.
With just a few extra hours per week and a bit of patience, you could make a few extra dollars by selling your clothes online. But beware- not all of the items in our closets are in demand, and it may be more trouble than it’s worth to attempt selling online.
Before we dive in, here’s what this post will cover:
Realistic time needed
Comparison of my favorite online consignment stores
What brands are easy to sell
How to make the most ROI
REALISTIC TIME NEEDED
Selling your clothes online won’t make you extra cash overnight in most cases. I did flip a Madewell bag for over $100 the same day I listed it on Poshmark, but that was an exception and I’ll show exactly how I did it later in the post.
If you can’t find extra time in your schedule or just don’t want to deal with the hassle of listing online, you may consider these options:
1. Donate your clothing to a charity or thrift store.
You won’t make money, but the dollar amount of the clothing donated can be written off for tax purposes.
Be sure and call ahead if donating to a smaller organization. They may not be accepting clothing all year round or only in need of certain items.
2. Sell clothing to a consignment shop for either cash or store credit.
This may provide only a few dollars per item, but it’s a great way to make quick, easy cash. I was recently offered store credit (or $13 cash) at Buffalo Exchange for a pair of USA made Imogene + Willie jeans.
Stores that buy back clothing are:
Buffalo Exchange (women, men)
Clothes Mentor (women)
Crossroads Trading (women, men)
Plato’s Closet (teen, young adult)
Uptown Cheapskate (women, men)
3. Opt for a ‘Clean Out Bag’ which may incur a small fee.
BUT it’s a more sustainable option than even donating to some thrift stores. Brass– a small, sustainable, female-owned clothing brand based out of Boston offers a ‘Clean Out Bag’ for $10.
The company sends a mailer that holds five pounds of clothing. Once filled, it’s shipped to a textile recycler in North Carolina where the clothing will either be restored, resold, or recycled into fibers used for making other materials.
4. Use ThredUP.
This online consignment store will send a FREE clean out bag that you can fill and return using a printed label. ThredUP’s clean out bag provides two options- ThredUP will sell those items and give you a profit percentage OR donate $5 per bag to a charity like the Boys and Girls, Feeding America, etc.
The bonus with ThredUP and Brass is there’s no need to leave your home. You can leave the clean out bag for your mail carrier to pick up. If that’s not an option, a simple drive to the local Fedex or USPS office will work.
Comparison of my favorite online consignment stores
Selling items via online platforms takes time to figure out. Luckily, I’ve done the homework and tested multiple platforms to see which ones yield the best return for time spent.
When you get the hang of things, it really only takes a couple of hours max total to:
photograph and list items
negotiate with potential buyers
package items once sold
drive them to a local shipping facility or schedule a pick up
Obviously results will vary, but hopefully these comparisons will help you decide which platform is best for you.
Some hardcore sellers swear by Ebay, but I’ve found the MOST success by far with Poshmark. Other online consignment shop comparisons also show that Poshmark yields the highest profits in the shortest amount of time.
I’ve seen some reviews that suggest Tradesy is better for high-end bags and shoes, but I don’t have any experience selling those on that particular site.
WHY POSHMARK BEATS THE COMPETITION
ease of listing
quicker sell times
Poshmark is set up similarly to Instagram. You snap photos, post them in the app, share with your followers, and wait for likes, comments, and offers. A fancy photography set up isn’t necessary; a smart phone works perfectly.
Once you figure out what items sell better than others (and I’ll get to that shortly), you can make money in as little as a day, up to a few weeks. Sometimes items that I think should sell easily end up sitting in my online closet for months, and sometimes they don’t sell at all.
Occasionally I’ll list the same item on multiple platforms, and all but once, I’ve received higher offers in shorter amounts of time on Poshmark.
For packages under 5 lbs, Poshmark charges buyers a flat rate of $6.49. When an item sells, simply package it in a free priority mail USPS box or reuse any box that you may already have at home. I constantly recycle boxes from Amazon orders and other items purchased online.
It’s not required, but Poshmark recommends adding a personalized thank you note and using nice tissue paper for packaging. I do usually include a thank you note, but I use whatever packing material I have laying around.
ALSO- If you’d prefer to skip driving to the post office, you can actually schedule a USPS pick up at your address. It really doesn’t get easier.
WHAT SELLS BEST
There’s really no way to predict what will and won’t sell on any platform since there’s a market for any and everything, but the brands below are almost guaranteed to sell quickly. I’ve also had luck selling J.Crew, Lou & Grey, and Michael Kors.
I’ve heard of VERY well worn Birkenstocks selling for full asking price within an HOUR of posting. I buy 90% of my clothing secondhand, but I don’t know if I could digest that kind of used purchase. Kudos to those who can!
It’s also important to note that higher quality materials are good investments pieces and easy to resell. Natural fibers will ALWAYS resell better than synthetic or manmade fabrics.
Linen, leather, silk, merino wool, and 100% cotton are not only better for the environment, but they tend to last years if cared for properly.
I recently sold a J.Crew merino wool sweater I thrifted years ago for more than I originally paid. It was still in perfectly new condition, and I was happy to rehome it to an excited new owner!
MAKING THE MOST ROI
So now that you know what platform works best, and what items will do well- let’s look at how to ensure you make the MOST profit for your efforts.
1. Write an honest and compelling item description.
This is not the time to write a simple, four word sentence. More details help put the buyer at ease and save time answering questions later. List any scuffs, rips, stains, minor pilling, fading, or loose threads.
Be sure and list out garment condition, material, measurements, and any specific info about how to care for the item. (dry-clean, hand wash only, etc.) I’ll even include a snippet from the original retail listing if I can find it.
2. Do your homework and see what similar items are priced at.
If you overprice an item too much, it’s less likely to sell quickly, if at all.
3. Try to find the manufacturer’s original website listing and use that photo, along with your own.
It gives the buyers a better idea of what the item originally looked like.
4. Take crisp and clear photos in natural lighting when possible.
Always use a minimal background when taking photos. No one wants to see a dirty bedroom or heaps of clutter! Pay attention to retail websites and mimic their product listing techniques.
Below you’ll see a few listings from my own closet that I sold within a matter of days, including the Madewell bag I mentioned earlier. I found it in pristine condition at a thrift store for $5 and resold it for over $100 within hours of posting it online.
Some sellers avoid using personal photos wearing the item, but I don’t. I prefer to see the item on a real person before buying, so I’ll include a real photo if I have one.
5. Include a few photos displaying the garment measurements.
Sometimes I’ll even position a measuring tape on or beside the item so buyers have zero questions about how the piece will fit. I do this because I once had a buyer complain the length of her jeans was shorter than expected. The item was returned and the effort was a wash.
That’s it! Once an item sells, make sure and ship it ASAP. The buyer has 3 days to look it over and accept it after delivery. If they don’t accept it through the Poshmark app within three days, the money is automatically credited to your account. Transfer to your bank account and you’ll have access to the funds in about a day!
Let me know if there’s anything I’ve left out about selling your clothing online or if there are any other questions you may have about getting started! Happy selling!
If you’d like to start building your own Poshmark closet to sell your clothing online OR start shopping, use my referral code for $5.00 credit!