Recently I had the pleasure of dragging roughly 1,387 pounds of extra clothing (what? I’ve got a big closet) to a cluster of consignment shops across town, where I planned to unload the rarely worn ponchos and the fat pants in exchange for sweet, sweet cash. Unfortunately, I was uneducated in the ways of the used-clothing buyer, who decides what lives and what dies in his or her retail microcosm. Therefore, I only sold three items out of 50, netted less than $30, and ended up ditching the rest at the Goodwill conveniently located nearby. However, one of the stores’ buyers was kind enough to explain why he rejected most of my clothes. To save you the trouble and earn you more moolah, I have summarized some crucial pitfalls.
Don’t waste your time lugging parkas and sweaters to the Buffalo Exchange in February; you’ll get sweaty and look like a bag lady (or dude). Buyers generally purchase for one season at a time, usually the upcoming one. So once the new year is upon us, you can expect them to be buying for spring. Once you’ve thrown all of your floral dresses and rain boots into a box, consider…
You can’t count on anyone to buy that brown-and-yellow jumpsuit from the 1970s. You might get lucky, but this scenario is likelier to end in tears. Such a garment lies in the valley between “stupid” and “boring.” You’ll have the most success selling your classics, such as the Gap bootcut jeans and the American Apparel tees, as well as just about anything by any big-name designer (think Michael Kors and Betsey Johnson rather than Xhilaration or Lee). Items that are super-weird, though, could net you a few bucks, so don’t resign yourself to leaving your mankini in the alley.
So you have your hamburger dress and your Wal-Mart onesie ready to go, but you face ultimate defeat if your clothes up for adoption have missing or loose buttons. Tighten all those threads. Dig up the spare button you tossed in your underwear drawer thinking you might use it later, and reattach that shiz.
The same goes for tears, holes, and snags. I know you stole that sewing kit from the time your company booked you at the Marriott by mistake, so put it to good use! Remember, though, that not everything is fixable: A rip along the inseam of a pair of pants is much more manageable than, say, a hole front-and-center on a sweatshirt. However, you might find that a makeshift patch is all you need to return the article to wearable shape.
Finally, address wrinkles and stains. You try to look your best for a job interview, right? (If not, then we all know why you’re reading this.) Do the equivalent favor for the clothes you hope to sell to their forever homes. Run the iron once over your crinkly pants, and bust out the bleach pen for your wine-stained whites.
Frequently, such cosmetic issues are why we quit wearing stuff in the first place — we’re too lazy to repair it! So if you can muster enough motivation to do so, you might not have to say goodbye to them after all. Trust me, it’s much easier than starving yourself.