My own trash to treasure
I did it. Finally! A couple weeks ago I completed the monumental task of cleaning out our guestroom which, much to Chris' chagrin, I had been using as closet overflow for a while (and by "a while" I mean over a year). Chris' dad and step-mom were coming for a visit, so it had to be done! I made a sign that said the words "DONATE / SELL / KEEP" and set to work sorting things into those piles.
I took a small selection of my best vintage finds to do my first sale to Feathers, which is one of my favorite Austin vintage boutiques. I shop there often, but I have never sold there. Since I know the vibe of the store, I only took nine pieces for them to consider. I was pleasantly surprised when they took seven. Some of my pieces even made it onto their awesome blog:
Recognize the skirt on the top right? Yes, that was a part of one of my all-time favorite outfits. I was sad to see it go, but I haven't worn it since a Ladies who Lunch event in 2010, so I figured it was time to let someone else enjoy it.
Because unloading seven pieces hardly made a dent in the Great Closet Clean-out of 2012, that very same day I took four full laundry baskets to Buffalo Exchange to do a sale, too. Way back in the day, for one glorious summer between filming seasons one and two of Friday Night Lights, I worked there as a buyer. Because of this, I made sure to only take in items that are in season and in impeccable condition. I ironed, lint brushed, and folded everything neatly. I even took a baby wipe to the bottom of every pair of shoes and clipped loose threads on clothes. I have a theory that doing all this makes a big difference. They bought almost everything except for one pair of pants, one pair of shoes, and one dress that I thought they priced too low. I now estimate that 10% of my former wardrobe is now sitting at Buffalo Exchange.
If you are in dire need of cleaning out your closet and you don't have time to photograph and list things on Swap.com or set up an online shop, I really recommend selling your items to a vintage boutique like Feathers or a resale shop like Buffalo Exchange. This is especially good for me because I just don't have time to photograph, list, package and ship things right now, and I had a ton of things to unload.
I can't speak for other shops, but I do know that both Feathers and Buffalo Exchange work similarly on terms of pay-out. You do, however, need an appointment at Feathers to meet with a buyer whereas Buffalo Exchange does not take appointments as they always have a many buyers available.
Once you arrive (expect a line at Buffalo!), both places will look through your items and say if they can sell them or not. They will immediately tell you what amount they'd sell each of the items. For example, the pieces that Feathers took (above) were priced at $78 for the black Laundry dress, $58 for the crinoline skirt (which has already sold!), $158 for the cupcake ballgown, and $48 for the sheer maxi vest. Note: that cupcake ballgown was first seen here and originally came to me from Buffalo Exchange for under $20. I altered the top a bit, removed a stain, and enjoyed a nice profit, meaning it can definitely be worth it to take upscale vintage to a vintage boutique versus a resale shop.
The buyer will look through everything you bring, tell you the in-store sale prices on the items they want, then give you a grand total at the end. Then it's time for math! At both places you can choose to take A) a 30% same day payout (they'll cut a check if it's for over $100, otherwise you can walk with cash), or B) you can choose to do a 50% same day in-store credit or, C) you can do a combo of both. For instance, if you sell $100 worth of stuff, you can walk with $30 cash or find up to $50 worth of merchandise. I recommend that you take the money and run! However if you want to be hardcore, go to the shop the day before you sell and put items you want on a 24 hour hold. This way you don't succumb to impulse buys!
If you want, Buffalo Exchange will even donate the items of yours they chose not to select to a local charity; pick up happens twice/ day and you can ask which charity, specifically, is scheduled for the next pick-up. Often, when I sell to Buffalo Exchange, I'll just ask them to chuck my donations (i.e. things I know they won't buy) straight into the donation bin so I don't waste their time or my time by having them look through those things. I'll have those in a separate trash bag and I don't bother lint brushing, ironing, and thread clipping those items.
All in all, my sale day was a great day. I made over $500 and for the briefest of moments considered becoming a professional picker. Then I remembered how terrible my guestroom looked. I took that money, bought some new furniture for Lady Bird's nursery, and reveled in the fact that my guestroom could once again be a place where we could have guests.
My recommended order:
1. Sort closet into DONATE / KEEP / SELL.
2. Bag up donations.
3. Sort your "SELL" pile into UPSCALE VINTAGE / CURRENT TRENDS / NOT IN SEASON.
4. Store your "not in season" items to sell when they are in season.
5. Prep clothes for sale by washing and ironing. Mend things as needed. Clean the bottoms of shoes and remove scuffs. For extra points go all out with lint brushing and thread clipping. Fold everything neatly.
6. Take your upscale vintage to a vintage boutique. Profit.
7. Take anything they pass on plus your current trends pile to a resale shop. Profit.
7. Donate your donations* and anything the resale shop passes on unless you truly believe it's a really great item that you can sell or swap on your own (for instance, I have this pair of Michael Kors gold sequined harem pants that are NWT for $256. Buffalo Exchange priced them for $19... which means I'd get $5.70 for them. I'm better off swapping them. Ahem! Jentine?). If swapping or selling online isn't your thing, you may want to try a consignment shop on those few leftovers items or reevaluate the item's worth.
If you donate to Savers (or Value Village) you'll get a 20% off your total purchase coupon to use the next time you thrift. I throw these in my glove box and make sure to use one any time I'm there.
Anyway, this was my personal experience a couple weeks ago, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. If you have any questions about selling to resale shops, I'd be happy to try to answer them!