I will be the first one to admit it. We are spoiled. Very spoiled.
My mother-in-law used to tell me that when she was growing up during the Depression, she and her sisters each owned two dresses. That was their entire wardrobe. Two dresses. Today, shopping has become a favorite pastime and mega malls and outlet centers have become vacation destinations. Whether you are a recreational shopper or, like me, think shopping should be an Olympic sport so that you could go for the gold, chances are that your closet is full of clothing you hardly ever wear.
What to do with all that extra stuff? You could try to find them a home with a friend or family member. Or maybe there is a local charitable organization that takes castoffs. But a few weeks ago, one of my adorable daughters turned me on to an entirely new concept: selling the clothing I never wear online. I had to admit, I was intrigued. Was it possible to turn dresses that were just taking up space into solid cash? There was only one way to find out.
I created an account on a site called Poshmark at my daughter’s suggestion. It didn’t take me long to post pictures of four or five items in my closet that were in great shape but, for one reason or another, hadn’t been worn in years. The details that accompanied each item were relatively simple: description, brand, size, color, condition, price and a few other bits of information that would hopefully tempt buyers to adopt my unwanted attire. The items were placed in my Poshmark closet and I sat around waiting for someone to take notice of them and, hopefully, buy them.
Maybe two weeks later, Poshmark sent me an email telling me that I had a buyer for a skirt that I had listed. The buyer was paying my full asking price and all I had to do was print a prepaid shipping label on my printer, box the skirt up, slap on the mailing label and take it to the post office. In just days, the money appeared in my Poshmark account, less the site’s 20 percent commission. I requested that the funds be deposited into my bank account, and they were shortly thereafter.
Probably one month later it was time to do yet another happy dance when I got another email from Poshmark with a second offer. This one was for a dress that I had bought on clearance at a designer outlet four years ago but hadn’t even thought about wearing in at least two years. The buyer had submitted a bid that was 25 percent lower than my asking price, but I was happy to accept a little less and turn that dress into cold, hard cash.
Poshmark is just one of several sites that actually pays you to clean out your closet (how cool is that??). Tradesy accepts new or nearly-new low to mid priced brand name clothing, shoes and pocketbooks and, in a unique approach, cleans up your photos to give them a more upscale, retail feel so buyers don’t feel like they are shopping in some random stranger’s closet. Once a sale has been made, Tradesy sends sellers shipping boxes, tissue paper and special bags to keep the merchandise fresh as it makes its way to its new home. Tradesy’s commissions are figured on a sliding scale: you can choose to keep the money in your Tradesy account for future purchases and pay just a nine percent commission, or take the money and run, either via PayPal or a check, and Tradesy keeps 11 percent of the purchase price.
Don’t have the patience to photograph and list all of your unwanted clothing? Fear not, thredUP has got you covered. Order one of its free “Clean Out” bags through thredUP’s website or app and once the bag comes, just fill it up with all of those new or like new items that are languishing in your closet and call FedEx to arrange a pickup. Once your stuff gets to thredUP, its team of resale professionals will go through your merchandise to decide which items are saleable. Those it accepts, typically about half the items received according to TheStreet.com, are priced by thredUP. Sellers receive 40 percent of the expected sale price within days on items valued at less than $60, while higher value items provide a larger payout but only after the item is sold. Items that aren’t accepted by thredUP are either donated to charity, or, for a small fee, can be returned to the seller.
Material Wrld is another site that takes high-end duds from more than 200 designer brands for resale. According to ABC News, Material Wrld’s shoes, handbags and women’s clothing typically have a retail price between $300 and $1,000, with new brands added every month.
Request your free mail-in kit from Material Wrld and pop those rarely worn items into the enclosed bag and send it back via either UPS or FedEx, although Manhattan residents can arrange for lightning fast, free doorstep pickups. Once your items have been authenticated and approved, you can choose to accept or decline Material Wrld’s offer, which should arrive within seven to ten days. Items that don’t make the cut can be sent to charitable organizations or can be returned to you at no cost. Unlike at some of the other sites, payment is made in the form of a Material Wrld Fashion Trade In card which can be used to purchase items at a network of more than 700 online and brick and mortar stores. And in a nice little perk, refer a friend to Material Wrld and earn a 10 percent commission on all his or her sales for a full year.
Finally, for those of you who find yourselves drowning in t-shirts that never see the light of day but that you can’t bring yourself to give away for sentimental reasons, consider turning them into a quilt through a website called Project Repat. Ironically, the seeds for Project Repat were sown when co-founder Ross Lohr found himself stuck in traffic for two hours while he was doing non-profit work in Kenya. The reason for the jam? An overturned rickshaw being pushed by a local man who was wearing a souvenir bar mitzvah t-shirt that had somehow made its way to Kenya. That experience led Lohr to team up with Nathan Rothstein and the two launched Project Repat in 2012, selling quilts in various sizes made out of t-shirts (starting at $75), as well as ones made out of sweatshirts, sports jerseys and baby clothing.
After all these years, it seems as if hand me downs, once the bane of every younger child’s existence, have finally become cool. So head for your closet and take a good hard look at all of those items in great condition that are just taking up space. While you may not be wearing them anymore, they may be the perfect addition to someone else’s wardrobe. And with all the extra cash you earn, it might just be time to head for the mall and see if you can catch some really awesome sales so that you can restock your closet once again!.