For the past couple of years, twice a year, I go through my closet and my daughters’ closets, and find clothing that we haven’t worn in awhile and which I think we can consign. I can safely say that each season we take in between $50 and $100.
Does that prove to you that consigning your clothes is a great way to bring in extra cash? Clearly I think it is. Also, I think it’s a great way to declutter dressers and closets, which I’m confident every home could use.
Many people that I’ve talked to have no idea how to get started with consigning clothes. That’s why I’ve decided to pull together all the advice about consigning clothing that I’ve offered over the years here on Suddenly Frugal, and package it in one post (this one!) So here are my 7 tips for consigning clothes.
1. Make sure your clothing is seasonal.
The consignment store I use actually publishes a calendar on its website that provides a month-by-month explanation of what kinds of clothing it is looking for at that time of the year. So, for example, April is when this store is stocking up on summer clothing, and September for winter clothing.
2. Keep a sense of your clothing’s fashion sense.
To make money on things like denim, they have to have a fashionable look to them. Think darker wash, not acid wash. Also, consignment shops can usually tell from your clothing’s tags how new (or old) the item is. You’ll do best consigning something that is less than three years old, if not “younger.”
3. Brands are what command the big bucks.
Many thrift and consignment shops have guidelines that spell out exactly what brands sell well in their stores. Not surprisingly, the ones with the biggest name recognition are top of the must-have list at consignment shops. These include:
- MICHAEL Michael Kors
- Banana Republic
- Brooks Brothers
- American Eagle
- True Religion
- Forever 21
- Motherhood Maternity
4. Clothes must be clean and fresh smelling.
Clothes that you consign can’t have any stains or spots on them, and should have been laundered after their last wear. Also, since no one wants to buy a stinky piece of used clothing, at least spray the clothes with Febreze–my favorite tool for freshening up something–before bringing them into the store.
5. Prep your clothes to make them look their best.
Take the time to prep your clothes for sale by ironing shirts to a crisp finishing, replacing any missing buttons, zipping up zippers so that jackets and pants fold nicely, and trimming off any loose threads or piling on sweaters so they look neat and tidy.
6. Follow the store’s rules.
In addition to following my local consignment shop’s seasonal calendar, I also follow their other rules–such as that you have to bring in 10 salable items in order to “make a consignment.” Also, I make sure that I’m bringing in clothing that makes sense for that store–i.e. work clothes, fashion-forward casual clothing and professional-looking attire. All the other stuff? I donate because I know the owner won’t take it to sell. I don’t bring anything in on hanger–verboten!–and I respect the posted drop-off and pick-up times.
7. Understand that you’ll make money but you won’t get rich
The key to successfully consigning clothes is understanding that you’re never going to make back 100% of what you spent on the clothing, shoes or accessories you’re selling. However, you will get something for them, most likely. Some consignment stores offer a 50/50 split. Others are 60/40. Just make sure you understand the payout terms ahead of time so you don’t leave disappointed.
Now a quick follow-up to the posts I’d written in the past about selling on ThredUp.com, with which I had grown disillusioned over time. Here is a recap of my last experience with the site:
In the past I’ve gushed over thredUP as a site for clearing out your clutter, making money on clothing you no longer want or need, and buying clothes at a discount. While I still stand by the latter notion of thredUP as a great online resale shop for shopping, I’m no longer so sure that the site is the best way to make money from your cast offs.
The first time I used the site, I made more than $50 from consigning my clothes. Considering I make about the same money from my local consignment shop–and with thredUP I don’t have to schlep to the store with my stuff, go back for the castoffs, and go back again a few months later to collect my payment–it seemed like a good deal.
But then I sent in my second bag with more than a dozen items and made $2.30. Yes, only two bucks and thirty cents. I wrote that off as a fluke.
Then I sent in my third bag, with many items purchased within the last year, either barely worn or still with the tags on. And I got a big fat goose egg for my items.
I hoped that mine was an isolated incident. But then some Suddenly Frugal readers wrote to me, telling me that they felt the site wasn’t being fair in how it was evaluating items. And then I read more of these “complaints” online. Plus, when I visited the Better Business Bureau and saw hundreds of complaints there, I knew it was time to address this topic.
Of course, thredUP offers you an option to get your items back, if they reject them, but you have to pay $13 upfront for this “service.” Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure that is not money well spent. For $13, I will drive to my local consignment shop, go back again for my castoffs, and go back again in a few months for my payment. I know that I won’t spend $13 in gas for the roundtrips, and I’m supporting a local business.
I know that my friends who work in the organizing business love the concept of thredUP, because their MO is to get the clutter out of your house. And nothing is easier than a postage-paid bag that you can fill with clutter and send away. But if you’re really looking to make money and boost your income by consigning your clothes, at this point I’ll have to renege on my recommendation of thredUP and suggest that you find a local consignment shop instead, even if it isn’t as convenient.