2016 is all about fresh starts and new beginnings. To kick it off with the freshness it deserved I took a closer look at all of the stuff I had in my room, specifically my closet. My closet was bursting at the seams with barely worn product that hid the product that I did love. So pre-2016 dedicated an entire weekend to purging. I unloaded everything out of my closet and dresser and piled it on my bed (that way you can’t sleep until everything is put away). I then enlisted the help of a VERY honest friend who had me try on every item and told me to hold on or to chuck.
After several hours I had 4 large bags filled to the brim with old clothing that I used to love but was ready to let go of. Before I took it to Goodwill I reached out to Carolyn Stine who has been a pro at making money on her closet cleanses for her suggestions. Check out her feedback and tips on the do’s and don’ts of consigning used clothing in our interview below. Now go tackle your closet!
1. I just purged my closet and now have a bag full of designer and non-designer products I don't know what to do with. What's your first step in getting this stuff out of your apartment?
Step one – the sort. Go through all of your items and divide them into piles based on designer and condition. High-end designer items go in one pile for consignment, middle of the road items in another pile for eBay and other comparable sites, and items that are not in saleable condition, but could still be helpful for someone, go in a pile for Goodwill donation.
2. I'm so overwhelmed by all of the online consignment options. What's the difference between The Real Real, eBay, Poshmark, Material Wrld, etc? Do you have any recommendations on sites to get the most bang for your buck?
The more attention you pay to choosing the correct outlet for selling your items, the more success you will have. Each site has its own specific demographic and customer base, so you just need to make sure you are selling the right items through the right channel to maximize sales potential, and ultimately your return.
The Real Real is my go-to for selling high-end designer items. Think that old Prada bag that you bought on sale, a Missoni scarf, or Jimmy Choo shoes. Note that you send your items in and they price them for sale, and then they take a commission that’s a percentage of the sale price. When you send those items in, you need to be ready to accept whatever price they are giving for that item.
Vaunte is a channel I’ve used to sell mid-level designer items, like a 3.1 Phillip Lim Sweater or a Milly dress. With Vaunte, you photograph, list, and price the items yourself, so you have a bit more control over the process. I recommend listing the item at your ideal price, and if it doesn’t sell within two weeks, reducing the price. Vaunte also takes a commission from the final sale price.
Ebay is the place where I have had the most success for selling in bulk. This is where I offload the majority of my items, such as old J.Crew, and items that may have small defects, stains, etc. Even if you are listing items in the $20 or less price range, if you sell enough items, it adds up. With Ebay, they are not taking a commission, so you will receive the full amount for the sale, minus a nominal listing fee. You can either list in an auction format, where buyers can bid for a period of time designated by you, or you can list at a specific price.
3. Do you have any tips on pricing? Do sample sale items fetch the same price as full-price and do I have disclose that it's from a sample sale?
At the end of the day, you have to be willing to part with an item for significantly less than you paid for it. But the other side of the coin is that time is money, and a big piece of this is how much time you are willing to spend listing and monitoring the items you are selling. With a site like The Real Real, they do all of the work for you. You literally send it in and then receive a check when it sells. But you do not have control over the pricing of your item. If you want to spend more time being involved in the process and the pricing, sites like Vaunte and Ebay may be a better choice for you. With Ebay, if your item doesn’t sell for your listed price, you can relist it. With Vaunte, you can continually reprice it until it sells.
I would always disclose if an item is a sample. The quality is usually poorer than a final production item, and sometimes the tagging is different, or there are no tags, or strikethroughs on the tags from a sample sale. No one wants to be surprised when they order an item, and it arrives and they find out it’s deceptively not the real deal.
4. Is there a time of month or season that you see an uptick in sales of your items?
Unfortunately not that I’ve noticed, but then again, I’m no professional. I have not observed any time of year or month where items sell more frequently or at higher prices.
5. If my items aren't moving online, are there any NYC based consignment shops you recommend?
My last line of defense, before donating to Goodwill, is bringing my items to Buffalo Exchange or Crossroads Trading Co. Both are consignment businesses that operate as actual storefronts. You won’t see big money from selling to these shops, but it is better than nothing. Note that they only buy in-season items, and are quite picky about quality.
6. Any additional consignment etiquette tips you want to add?
Honesty is the best policy, in consignment and in life! The buyer should feel as though the photos, information provided, and pricing accurately reflect the item they receive in the mail from you. Also, note that if you are selling on sites such as Ebay, once the transaction is complete, the buyer rates you as a seller and leaves commentary about the item received. If they are disappointed with the quality of the item they purchased, such as if there is an undisclosed stain, or if the item is a sample and you did not mention this, they can actually request a refund and open a case against you. Buyers do read sellers’ reviews prior to purchasing, so you should strive to build up a positive reputation with sellers. At the end of the day, a collection of positive reviews might be the tipping point that convinces someone to make that purchase.