Selling used clothing can become a profitable venture. Although consumers might think of all used clothing stores as "thrift stores," the used clothing market includes several types of resale stores, with clothing ranging from inexpensive to bargains on luxury and high-end fashion. There are even national chains specializing in fashionable used clothing. Learning what resale shops need helps you make the most money selling clothes.
Actual "thrift stores" generally only take clothes by donation. Other resale merchants, such as sellers specializing in contemporary used fashion, vintage retailers and antiques dealers, sometimes pay cash for appropriate clothing. Consignment stores generally don't pay until the clothes sell. Visit consignment stores and other used clothing retailers. Pick up guidelines for selling to the shops, if they're available. Call ahead and speak to a buyer. The buyer can tell you what the shop needs right now, and whether the store will buy clothing outright or only by consignment.
Increase your odds of making a sale and making the most money for your time by presenting clean garments that are suitable for resale. If a garment isn't in good enough condition to give as a gift, it's probably not good enough for resale. Check for missing buttons, test zippers, and examine each item for rips or other damage. Small snags, such as pulls on a sweater, can be pulled through with a crochet hook. Take the best clothes around to shops before investing time in making repairs, so you can assess whether it's worth spending time fixing minor flaws.
Instead of taking all the clothes to one shop, target the clothes to specific shops to make the most money. For example, take all the designer clothing to the most upscale consignment shop, the casual clothing to a shop that features moderate separates, and vintage garments to a vintage shop. Only bring in clothing for the season the store is buying for. This saves time for you and the buyer, and improves your chances of selling more. Present the clothes on hangers or neatly folded, based on each shop's preference.
Designer labels often bring the highest prices. If a store can sell a $300 jacket for $100 and pays 50 percent on consignment, you make $25 when it sells. You'll typically make 40 to 60 percent of what the shop charges, according to NARTS, the association of resale professionals. In contemporary clothing, you'll tend to make more on fashionable garments that fit with current trends or classic garments with timeless appeal. Specialty clothing, such as fashions from the 70s, 60s, 50s and earlier, keeps coming back. These sell to vintage clothing stores and sometimes to antique stores that carry clothing.