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Come Sale Away - Pad Your Wallet Edition

By Ali Trachta in Miscellaneous on Feb 11, 2009 8:30PM

2009_02_11comesaleawayconsignment.jpg Let's face it, shopping is one of the first things to be scratched off the priority list in this shit can economy. In fact, many of us are looking for ways to keep more cash in our ever-fraying pockets. Lately we've used a more discriminating eye when throwing clothes in the donation pile and weeded out a few items to take to thrift stores in an attempt to make an extra buck. Our success at selling our old duds was questionable, but we obtained a wealth of knowledge on what brings in the bucks and what doesn’t that we’ll benevolently share below. Here's our story:

Elliott Consignment: Having a small handful of designer pieces we were ready to let go, our first stop was Elliott Consignment on Broadway, whose clerk schooled us on their process. At Elliott, the store takes your clothes and attempts to sell them for 60 days, after which you collect a certain amount of the proceeds. This involved a signed agreement and a waiting period, and since we were looking for quick cash, we decided to explore other venues.

Buffalo Exchange: We headed further south on Broadway to Buffalo Exchange hoping for better luck. We dropped off our bags for the clerk to sort through and began browsing the racks, confident we'd be walking out with cold, hard cash. After all, we had some gems in there: designer jeans, cashmere sweaters and a Nicole Miller dress that retailed for $300, complete with tags. (We got the dress for $40 a couple years ago when the Nicole Miller store on Oak Street had a moving sale. Steal! But it never quite fit so actually the purchase was pointless. All the more reason to sell it and bring in the riches.) They called us back and we held out our hand, but were dismayed to find they rejected the vast majority of our booty. All they offered was a measly $12 for the dress. Wha? Our male counterpart had slightly better luck, unloading two button-downs for $10. Both of us still had bagfuls left, so our journey continued.

Disgraceland: We continued to Disgraceland on Clark only to find it closed down. -Sigh-

Plato’s Closet: We didn’t anticipate ending up at the “juniors” resale shop, but there we were. The drill was the same as at Buffalo Exchange, and we thought surely the standards of buyers for the pre-teen market would have lower standards. Wrong. Our “gems” were once again rejected, but the vast majority of our man-friend’s garb got through, and at a good price.

Frustrated, we asked for specifics, both from the Plato's Closet clerk and via a phone call back to Buffalo Exchange, and learned the following useful information:

  1. Clothes, including jeans, must show no signs of distress. This means no fringe hanging off the hem.
  2. Tops must hit at hip. None of those mid-90s, 90210-esque short shirts. Even if they’re cashmere.
  3. Some clothing brands, like car models, have better resale values than others. Thrift shops have preferred brands, so call ahead to see what they’re looking for. Even certain designer brands don’t re-sell well, so they won’t take them.
  4. Resale is typically a girl’s game, so guys have an advantage since the stock of mens clothes is usually more meager.
  5. Some shops buy clothes for certain seasons at certain times. Before you head in with a garbage bag full of sweaters, make sure they're collecting Fall/Winter styles, especially right now as we transition to Spring.
  6. Some items may be deemed "too formal" for an average thrift store. Take the time to go the consignment route with higher-priced items.

Bottom line, don't assume (as did yours truly) that just because a garment once had value that it still does. Per the experts, stick to this guideline: if you purchased it within the last 18 months and haven't worn it in the last year, and it's in good enough condition that you'd lend it to a friend, consider selling it. Lots of other sellers ahead of me in line had great success because they knew how to play the game. Now that we know the rules, we think we'll have better luck next time.

To find a thrift store near you, check out this list.

Photo by vistavision.