7 Ways to Get More Money For Your Used Clothing

There's a bit of excitement before every seller walks in the door of Duo with gently-worn clothing that she's looking to sell for cash. Does she have a Marc Jacobs bag she no longer carries? Hangers of dresses by DVF, Alice & Olivia and Shoshanna? Are most of her pieces new with their original tags?

We see a range of styles and brands when we're looking through the casualties of our customers' closet clean outs. And we're more than willing to look through it all to pick out the pieces we'll sell in the upstairs of our boutique -- home to our ever-changing gently-worn section.  But occasionally, someone walks in with a trash bag full of crumpled clothing that makes us want to put on rubber gloves before looking through it, because it feels like we're about to go through a bag of, well, trash. And even a designer label can't make sifting through trash appealing.

So whether you're selling Mossimo or Missoni, here are seven tips to get more cash for your clothing:

1.) Prepare your clothes to sell

Before bringing your clothing into a resale shop to sell it, make sure every piece is freshly laundered or dry cleaned if necessary. Look at each item carefully making sure there are no spots or holes. As a buyer, if I've encountered several spots or holes in a seller's clothing, I become wary to purchase anything from that seller, simply because I worry there might be an imperfection that I'm missing in the few minutes I have to look through the items. Also, ironing or steaming your clothing makes a world of difference. Yes, we have a steamer to remove wrinkles, but if clothes look like they've been balled up on the floor for the past year, I'm probably going to pass, since I'm worried that all the wrinkles might be hiding a spot or snag.

Ironing or steaming your clothes beforehand can go a long way in getting more cash for your items.

Ironing or steaming your clothes beforehand can go a long way in getting more cash for your items.

Avoid bringing any items with holes/stains/damage.

Avoid bringing any items with holes/stains/damage.

2.) Remove pet hair

his could technically be a part of #1-but it is so important, we gave this next tip it's own category. Many people with stain-free, freshly laundered clothing forget to notice their best friend's fur, probably because they're so used to it. If every piece of clothing is covered in pet hair, I'm likely going to pass on most of it, even if it's great clothing we would normally buy, just because it will take quite a bit of time for our sales associates to get the clothing fur-free, and because there's the chance that I'm missing stains or other imperfections that are under the fur. Plus, many people are allergic to pet hair, including myself, so sometimes the watering, itchy eyes and runny nose becomes so unbearable that I just want to stop looking through the clothing, and I worry that we might have a customer who would have the same reaction. The last thing we want is a customer to try on a sweater and leave our store in a fit of sneezing with red, watery eyes.

Clothing covered in pet hair can be a real turn-off to a buyer.

Clothing covered in pet hair can be a real turn-off to a buyer.

3.) Don't bring your Goodwill pile

Believe it or not, I've come across many worn-out bras and underwear in sellers' bags over the years. You might think someone would be embarrassed to bring in their used unmentionables for someone else to rifle through, but that's not the case. The seller who is guilty of this is on her way to the Goodwill, and is stopping by a re-sale store to see if she can get some cash for her clothes before donating the rest. Likely, there are old t-shirts, broken jewelry, and maybe a few books in the bag too. There are a few reasons why bringing your entire donation pile hurts your chances of getting top dollar for your gently-worn clothing: First, if I can tell these clothes are going straight to the donation center after I look through them, I start the buying process with the mentality that I'm looking through clothes that aren't worth much, and likely don't price them very high, or maybe don't buy them at all. Second, if the clothes are mixed in with other unwanted odds and ends, it's easy to overlook a piece of clothing we'd be interested in buying. Lastly, when I come across used underwear, I often stop looking through the bag. Even the Goodwill doesn't want old undies.

donate pile.jpg

4.) Packaging is important

When a customer makes a purchase from Duo, we wrap her clothing in tissue, seal it with a Duo sticker and put it in a shopping bag that she'll be excited to carry with her. Most clothing stores use custom packaging because it evokes a certain feeling of excitement about what you've just bought. It works the same way when you're selling your clothes, too. While you don't need to wrap your clothes in tissue or use stickers, we love to see a seller walk through the door with organized shopping bags, rather than a huge black trash bag that's starting to tear. Neat, well-folded clothing is easier to look through, so a buyer isn't likely to accidentally skip over a piece which can sometimes happen; in the garbage bag scenario. And maybe it's subconscious but clothing presented neatly seems more valuable to a buyer than items tossed into trash bag. And the more valuable your clothing seems to a buyer, the higher she'll price it and the more money you'll get.

These are the exact same items, but notice the appeal of the neatly folded clothes.

These are the exact same items, but notice the appeal of the neatly folded clothes.

5.)  Don't tell the buyer that you're not sure she'll want any of it

I think it's a method of self-protection, but often a seller will present her clothing while telling me, "I don't know if you'll want any of this, but I just thought I'd bring it in anyway." My theory is that people say this so that if I pass on all of their clothes, they'll have already acknowledged that they knew it wasn't that great, sort of in the same way someone says "I'm not good at public speaking" before starting a speech. Usually in these cases, the seller has at least a few things that we can buy. If she's preemptively told me that she doesn't think her gently worn clothes are worthy of being re-sold, it creates doubt in my mind too. That doubt makes me price her items a little lower, because I'm now thinking that our customers might not think her clothes are worth buying. And the lower I price the items, the less the seller gets. Be confident that you are selling clothing that we will be interested in buying. The worst that can happen is we have to pass on everything, and if that's the case, you've lost nothing but a few minutes of your time and you have a better idea of what to bring in next time.

6.) Sell seasonal clothing at the beginning of the season
If a store buys clothing seasonally, like Duo does, be sure to bring your sweaters and coats to sell in August and September (or as soon as the store starts taking winter clothing) and bring your white pants and Lilly dresses in February or March (or as soon as the store starts taking spring clothing). As a buyer, we can price these items higher at the beginning of the season because we know we have several months to sell them. If you bring in a winter coat in January, we only have a month or so before customers are looking to start buying for spring, so to hedge our risk, it only makes sense to price that coat fairly low so we know it'll be purchased by season-end, and as a result, the seller will take home less money for the coat than they would if they had sold it a few months earlier.

Best time to sell seasonally.jpg

7.) Become a regular seller at your favorite re-sale store

We have several sellers who have been bringing clothes to us for years. We know their style and can trust the quality of their clothing. We know that they are loyal to our store and they tell their friends about us. Plus, we've gotten to know them and consider them friends. So if we're looking through the clothes of one of our regulars, and are debating whether to price the dress at $58 or $68, we'll lean toward $68 because we know their items typically sell well, and are worthy of the higher price tag. Plus, we want to make sure she gets the most money possible (even if we have to risk possibly marking the item down if we've over priced it) so that she'll continue to keep coming back. 


Posted on June 10, 2013 .