We are definitely in tidying mode at the Gavin household – especially when it comes to closets and storage space. Our first baby is due to arrive in July and our 950 square foot house has very limited closet space, which means that all of the things we've been tucking into the extra bedroom need to find a new home. I also need to trim down my clothing possessions to make a little closet space for the baby.
If you're like me and find yourself with more clothes in your closet and dresser than you actually need, you might be looking to cash in some of those higher-value items and thredUP might be one way to go.
Then again, thredUP might not be the gold mine that it sounds like.
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Haven't heard of thredUp? Well, it's basically an online consignment shop. According to their website, thredUP is “the easy way to shop and sell secondhand clothes.” I honestly can't speak to the shopping experience (I currently have $54.65 in unused thredUP credit that I really need to transfer into my PayPal account), but I've learned a lot from selling my clothes on the site and it doesn't always rake in the cash like you might expect.
Here are a few lessons I've learned from my own experience selling my clothes on thredUP.
I'm also going to address the elephant in the room and point out that I am most definitely not pregnant in these photos. I actually had these photos taken last July while we were still living in the condo because I wanted to feature thredUP as a unique website that helps you earn a little unexpected cash (the thought of which greatly appealed to my personal finances). My Clean Out experience wasn't quite what I expected, so I sat on these photos for a very long time while I considered how best to share this information with you. I finally decided it was best to just lay all the information out there and let you decide for yourself whether or not thredUP is the best route for your gently used clothes.
thredUP is a Business
Before you even think of shipping your clothes to thredUP, you need to come to terms with the fact that thredUP is a for-profit business. Which means that they take unused clothes, and sell them for a profit. They have overhead costs like warehouses, employees, shipping supplies, and maintaining an extensive website. Which means that they have to make a profit from the $50 blouse you send their way and the only way to do that is by offering you less money for your blouse than it's actually worth so that they can resell it at a higher price, pay their bills, and earn a few bucks for themselves. It's just how business works.
thredUP is a Buyer's Market
On top of the fact that thredUP is a business and needs turn a profit somehow, there's another major factor that will impede your ability to make bank on the clothes you send their way: discounts. Every time I visit the thredUP website, I see discount codes that invite me to save 40%. There's only one way that the company can legitimately afford to knock 40% off their listed prices on a regular basis: by purchasing their merchandise at a very low rate. Which means that the hypothetical $50 blouse in my closet will get an even lower payout than I initially anticipated.
You Have to Pay thredUP to Process Your Clothes
There's one more thing you need to be aware of before you attempt to sell your clothes on thredUP. You actually have to pay the site to accept your clothes. thredUP keeps track of all incoming clothing to sell through their $10 Clean Out Kits. The kit comes with a large pre-paid shipping pouch, instructions, and tips to maximize your payout.
If you wish do donate your clothes without a payout, the kit is free (but FYI, you don't get a receipt for tax purposes). Honestly though, if you just plan to donate your clothes, isn't it simpler to drop them off at your nearest Salvation Army, Goodwill, or other thrift store and collect the tax credit?
How to Get the Most Value from Your Clothes on thredUP
If you're aware that thredUP won't generate enough cash to pay for your mortagage (or possibly not even cover dinner for two at decent restaurant), but you want to sell your clothes and give it a try, I have a few tips to help you get the most bang for your $10 Clean Out Kit.
Sort your Unwanted Clothes
Every time I clean out my closet, I sort my clothes and accessories into a few different categories.
High value items – this includes new and like-new items from a known (and higher priced) brand or designer. For me this often includes clothes I've purchased from Stitch Fix, items that still have a tag, or popular brands like Kate Spade, J Crew, Gap, or Kendra Scott.
Low value items – clothes and accessories from less expensive stores (such as Kohl's or Old Navy) or obscure brands that other people won't recognize. This also includes items that are slightly faded, stretched, or show other signs of wear. thredUP won't list items that show more than the slightest bit of wear, so spare yourself the disappointment and be very honest with yourself about the quality of your clothes while you sort.
Last summer, I did a major closet clean out after learning about the KonMari method. I resold all of my Stitch Fix clothes on my sale Instagram account: @MariaSellsThings, pulled a stack of non-Stitch Fix clothes that were in top-notch condition to sell on thredUP and donated the rest to the Salvation Army (you can see photos of what we donated in this blog post. It was a lot.).
Here's the full stack of clothes designated for thredUP.
thredUP decided to keep 6 of the 9 items I shipped in my Clean Out Kit and list them online. In exchange, I received $37.40 in thredUP credit.
I will say that thredUP is pretty transparent about the status of the clothes they keep and list online. Each garment in the list is linked so you can track it's sale on the site. I added up the value of the five garments that had sold and thredUP earned $99.95 for those items (with one dress yet to sell). They paid me $37.40 (less than half of the money they earned) and they donated three of my items that were not high-quality enough to sell online. It's worth noting that thredUP still profits from these items, even though they were not listed for sale online. They refer to their earnings as nominal but that's kind of a vague word, don't you think?
Ship Seasonally Appropriate Clothes …
thredUP encourages everyone with a Clean Out Kit to send timely and seasonal clothes their way. Which makes sense, because very few people will be shopping for a new winter coat in July. So as you are sorting through your clothes, you'll want to make sure they are seasonally appropriate. Send any items that fit the current season and set non-season items aside to ship at a later time.
But Be Prepared for a Very Long Processing Time
According to the thredUP website, it takes 1-3 weeks for your Clean Out bag to be processed and have your items listed online. In my experience, it can sometimes take even longer. When I shipped my own Clean Out Bag last summer, I shipped my bag sometime in July, but thredUP never contacted to let me know it was received. I contacted customer support so they could look into it. Somehow, my bag slipped through the cracks even though thredUP had a record of it arriving August 12. One month later, on September 12, the bag still wasn't processed and I was made aware that it could take an additional 3-4 weeks for my bag to be processed because they were backlogged at the time.
Keep in mind that I had followed all of the instructions that came in my Clean Out Kit and sent summer clothes to thredUP in August. They weren't processed until sometime after September 12. Lesson learned! If you plan to send your clothes to thredUP, my best advice is to send the clothes at the very beginning of the appropriate season (right when they start to appear in stores).
Is thredUP worth the Trouble?
So after all of that information, the question remains whether or not thredUP is the best way to get the most value out of your old clothes, shoes and accessories. It's possible that thredUP will yield the best profit with minimal effort, but unfortunately it costs $10 just to find out. And you could get your unlisted items back from thredUP, but that service costs an additional $11 and you have to pay it when you order your Clean Out Kit, which makes the added cost even more of a gamble.
My best advice is to only send thredUP your very best quality unwanted clothes and to wait until you have enough to justify the cost of a $10 Clean Out Kit.
It also wouldn't hurt for you to consider listing your gently used clothing on Poshmark or Ebay. If you're like me and find yourself with a surplus of clothes from Stitch Fix that no longer suit your style, I highly recommend selling those items yourself in the Stitch Fix B/S/T Facebook group that has 50,000 members and is completely devoted to the buying, selling, and trading of Stitch Fix clothes.
I recently started selling my higher-value clothes and accessories on Poshmark and I have had far more success. I have had success selling tops and dresses for about $20 each (sometimes more, sometimes less) and have loved how easy Poshmark makes it to ship any items I have sold. You can check out my Poshmark closet to see what I've sold and the price I've received for each item.
If you have more than just clothes that you are looking to clear out or you want a more complete list of options to turn your gently used items into cash, this blog post about the money hiding in your closet may be just for you!
Have you tried to sell clothes on ThredUP? Did you rake in the cash or walk away from the experience feeling completely deflated? Maybe you have an even better tip to turn your gently used clothes into cold, hard cash. Please share your experience in the comments!
Thanks to Brian from BTW Photography for the great photos in today's post.