While retail brick-and-mortar sales are struggling, resale is booming. Value-conscious millennials have helped drive secondhand sales to become a booming multibillion-dollar industry, according to some estimates.
“Now resale clothing is even bigger and better,” said Marshal Cohen, the chief industry analyst for retail with the N.P.D. Group. “It’s amazing how many products you can buy that have the expression ‘new with tags’ that basically means you’re buying used clothing that has never been worn.”
Today’s secondhand buyers can shop dozens of online sites for everything from accessories to formal wear. The average discount on items of 80 percent off retail has lured shoppers to online and traditional brick-and-mortar resale stores, which are also expanding their presence on the web.
Dana Avidan Cohen, executive style director at Pop Sugar, a lifestyle website, calls shopping secondhand the green approach to shopping.
“It is becoming such a huge market for people who want a really savvy customer experience,” Avidan Cohen said.
The growth in resale outlets has created a market for buyers and sellers. Many consignors and resellers rely on their customers to support their inventory. ThredUP adds that 50 percent of their shoppers also sell with them.
“This is a way you’re sort of taking the stuff that you’re not using anyway and you’re getting cash for it or credit to shop for more stuff,” Avidan Cohen said. “I think that’s really exciting to women because you’re not just refreshing trends your body changes your lifestyle changes.”
With so many re-sellers vying for your new or barely used castoffs, “Good Morning America” wanted to see where we could potentially make the most money. We asked Avidan Cohen to help with our experiment, looking at three re-sellers: thredUP, one of the largest online markets for secondhand clothing, Tradesy, an app that makes reselling entirely mobile, and Beacon’s Closet, a New York City–based re-seller, has four locations and offers cash on the spot.
Avidan Cohen selected three items that “GMA” purchased brand new: a Kate Spade handbag, which “GMA” bought for $178, a pair of J. Crew pumps for $160 — both on sale — and a little black dress “GMA” bought from Zara for $39.90.
We sent one set to thredUP, posted another set on Tradesy and took our items to Beacon’s Closet.
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The instant payout at Beacon’s, which they say is based on 30 percent of their selling price, and netted us a total of $25 for the shoes and the purse. They refused to take the Zara dress even though it was brand new, citing the store already had too many of the same kind of dress.
“There is no waiting to receive cash or store credit the same day when sellers come in. We buy items outright on the spot,” said Carrie Peterson, president and founder of Beacon’s Closet, Inc. “We are happy that the secondhand market is thriving, and that people understand that something doesn’t have to be shiny and new for it to have value.”
ThredUP took all of our items and paid us a total of $114.55. But it took, nearly two months to process our bag and get paid. The company now has a new policy of charging an optional $10 to process your bag in a week.
A ThredUP spokesperson said, “There are places where you earn more money but nowhere that’s more convenient.”
It took us about the same amount of time to sell our items on Tradesy. Over time we dropped our asking price several times to attract buyers, but in the end, Tradesy came out on top in our experiment, earning us $148.42 for all three items, after fees.
“Our systems are designed so that sellers earn more, while buyers pay less,” said Tracy DiNunzio, Tradesy founder and chief executive officer.
When it comes to cleaning out your closet, “Don’t hang on to what you’re not using,” said Avidan Cohen. “There’s no expiration date on clothes or shoes but current items with tags will fetch better prices.”
And keep tags and shoe boxes, as they help authenticate the things you want to sell and that helps make you more money.