My mom and I couldn’t be more different — except when it comes to our taste in fashion and style. Recently, we had a lengthy discussion about the effect cheap, fast fashion has on our style choices. She expressed disappointment in single-season sweaters that weren’t exactly off-price, and either lose shape, pill, or literally fall apart at the seams after minimal wear. So I asked where she shopped and about the main styling features she needed. (You can take the girl out of retail but you cant take retail out of the girl.) I rattled off brands she may like and let her know about a few online consignment stores where she could find those brands. I also looked up consignment stores in her area to help her find brick-and-mortar stores where she could try pieces on. This was my mother’s first time seriously considering consignment.
This interaction made me think of our clients here at Intent and the questions they often ask when it comes to fashion — both when it comes to buying and selling. When did poor quality clothing become acceptable, even chic? When did high quality become so expensive? And how can you avoid purchasing low-quality pieces when consignment shopping? Is it better to buy and sell online or at brick-and-mortar consignment stores?
Read on for our tips for buying and selling consigned clothing.
Buying and Selling Clothing Online
It can be intimidating to shop online for consigned items — how do you know you are getting quality? The following two websites, which are different but special in their own ways, are my personal favorites when it comes to both consigning clothing and buying consigned items.
This site allows users to price and sell their items and takes only a small percentage of the final sale. Poshmark takes several measures to ensure quality of the items being sold. If a seller is not honest about brand and/or quality, the site will revoke their shop or ability to sell. Buyers can rate an item when it’s received, and they are encouraged to review other ratings before purchasing an item.
Poshmark also educates buyers and sellers on how to prove authenticity by picturing style numbers, labels, etc. Buyers can even communicate directly with sellers to ask questions about pictured defects or flaws.
PRO TIP: I have been selling and buying on Poshmark for four years and have had consistently good experiences. However, if you do have trouble, immediately inform Poshmark’s help desk, and they will help you resolve an issue.
Poshmark allows sellers to make the most profit, by far. The site only takes a small percentage of each sale and the seller takes home the majority. What can make selling on Poshmark difficult is how long the process takes to list items and to share your items so they stay at the top of the results. Effective sellers are constantly sharing posts both to their followers — and it often takes months (if not years) to cultivate a following.
PRO TIP: For all forms of consignment, you will want to prepare and examine all pieces before sending them in. They should be clean, free of any pet hair, wrinkle-free, and scent-free.
ThredUP allows sellers to send items to their facility, where the company selects the items they will sell. They then refurbish all items so you know they are in good shape. There is a bidding section where a brand new item is placed for 12 hours — if it does not sell, then it goes live on thredUP’s site for up to 90 days before it is sent to a third party consignment store.
PRO TIP: I’ve found thredUP’s process to be the most simple and straight-forward — they stand behind what they are selling; you just have to find the piece you want.
If you recently purged your closet and plan to donate your quality apparel, thredUP is a great place to start. This site takes a bit less time to consign than Poshmark, and not all items at thredUP are accepted (just like at any brick-and-mortar store). However, when your items are accepted, you make a small percentage based on a dollar amount of the final sale (the lower the price the lower the percentage).
ThredUP doesn’t return any unaccepted items — and the company specifically states that only 40 percent of most starter kits are accepted and resold in a third party consignment store. However, with thredUP, you will typically still make more than if you consign your clothing via a brick-and-mortar store.
PRO TIP: ThredUP is particular in what they accept — because they have the ability to see what categories are selling, make sure you send seasonally relevant products. (For instance, sweaters do best in fall and winter; also, remember that holiday party season begins in October and tapers off in December. By the second week of December, we are in full gift-giving mode, but don’t underestimate the self purchases that are still happening.) Seller beware: if you send off-season items (even if they are of high quality), thredUP may not accept them simply because of timing. Your beloved Kate Spade handbag could easily be donated to a thrift store.
The Best Ways to Use These Sites
If you have a favorite brand of leggings, for instance, visit either Poshmark or thredUP and search for the manufacturer. You may be amazed at how many items appear — and some with the original sales tags still attached.
Or maybe you recently discovered a favorite new brand where you can only find items in-store. For a specific search, type in the brand name, a category (like “dresses”), and your desired color to see what’s available. This can help you find what you’re looking for — before spending full price. I’m always surprised by how many items on these sites are available — and in flawless condition.
Buying and Selling at Brick-and-Mortar Consignment Stores
While online consignment stores offer sizing charts and measurements on all items, there’s no guarantee an item will fit perfectly. So if you’re shopping online and come across a brand you’re unfamiliar with and don’t know how something will fit, it can be difficult to commit to purchasing the item.
And that’s why brick-and-mortar consignment stores are so great!
Consignment Stores: BUYING
If you’ve changed sizes or suddenly notice a gaping hole in your wardrobe, you may want to consider shopping at a physical consignment store. Such a trip will allow you to try everything on to make sure it fits perfectly. The selection in your size may be limited if you are looking for a very specific item. But if you’re shopping for more categorical items like tops, sweaters, or denim, brick-and-mortar consignment stores are a great way to shop.
PRO TIP: If you’ve never shopped consignment before and you are hesitant, take a group of friends with you. Maybe locate a part of town with multiple shops in the area and visit them all until you find a place that speaks to you. It took me a year to find my favorite consignment store where I buy and sell.
Consignment Stores: SELLING
Most stores pay out after an item is sold, but some pay sellers on the spot. Most brick-and-mortar consignment stores don’t pay much, but if you want an easy way to get rid of a few items and make a little extra cash, this is your best bet. (I would encourage people to start here if they are at an initial purge point and just want things gone.)
PRO TIP: Each store is different when it comes to their consigning schedule and rules. Inquire before dropping in, because some places will even limit the number of items you can drop off without an appointment. Find the place that meets your expectations.
Like many shoppers, my mom and I both love a great deal — but we discovered we are also both unwilling to sacrifice quality or fit. As the weather gets colder and the holiday season approaches, I am most excited to be able to lounge around with my family while in our pajamas and shop my two favorite online consignment sites. Maybe we will even hit some of my favorite consignment shops while I’m home for the holidays.
Are you overwhelmed by your closet? Do you know you need to purge some items but don’t know where to begin? If you’re in the Boise area, contact us for a free consultation.