Carrie Bradshaw’s classic quip about liking her money where she can see it (hanging right in her closet) might have been said with a hint of sarcasm, but there’s actually some truth behind it. Ever since the first rummage sale back in the 1800s (organized by shipyards clearing out unclaimed cargo), people have loved selling their used stuff. It got way easier with the advent of the Internet, and now you can download a half dozen different apps to list last season’s buys all while having a glass of pinot grigio from the comfort of your own couch. You’ve heard of eBay, ShopHers, The Real Real, and other resale companies, but how about Threadflip, the latest site where its power sellers are making bank—like annual-salary-level cash.
These are the sort of items and brands that do well on resale sites, all available new at Nordstrom.
“Selling stuff has definitely affected my shopping. I take resale value into consideration when making a purchase,” explained Mariam M., a 27-year-old boutique owner in Scottsdale, Arizona, who’s pocketed nearly $35,000 from Threadflip. “I try not to spend on trendy pieces but put my money toward wardrobe staples and investment pieces that I can resell should I get tired of them.” Mariam grew up with an aunt who owned a consignment store. The boutique owner sold on eBay before moving over to Threadflip, which she prefers because of the social aspect (you can heart items, leave comments, and see whose closet you’re shopping). And while plenty of her listings are her own pieces, she said she also hits up sample sales to find stuff she plans on reselling from the get-go.
Tiffany S. has made about $44,000 on Threadflip since signing up and says she intends to double that this year (she also sells on four other sites). “I sell high- and low-end, and I share, list, pack, ship, and handle the money. I’m a full-fledged, tax-reporting LLC because I’ve made so much money. The opportunity to make six figures is there,” the 37-year-old stay-at-home North Carolina mom said. “The items I’m selling are mine. I do not shop thrift, my inventory is not from Goodwill. I buy it, and I buy myself a lot. I sell when I get bored.”
Power sellers also pay attention to timing, much like a traditional store would. “I sell certain items depending on the season, and I’ll hold items until I feel it will sell, usually prior to major holidays,” shared Caroline G., a 51-year-old former IT pro who now stays at home with her kids and sells items on three different resale sites. She’s made about $34,000 on Threadflip so far. “I’ve been in the game for 20-plus years and would put stuff in consignment stores but found it took a long time to sell, if at all.” She moved online to find a bigger audience and now sells with the mind-set of a boutique owner.
“Great customer service makes people want to buy from you again,” she explained, revealing that she does her best to ship the day after the purchase is made. “It’s important to build up a great selling record, which takes time. Don’t get discouraged if things don’t sell right away.” Since repeat buyers are a big thing for these women, they cultivate relationships with things like handwritten thank-you notes slipped inside carefully packaged items.
“I take advantage of the social aspect of Threadflip, and if I list an item that I think one of my previous buyers would like, I message them letting them know,” Mariam said. “I love writing notes for packages and sometimes adding extra little gifts.”
Another common thread between sellers was that even if posting and packing items is regarded as a day job, it’s also a passion project to fund their own shopping. “The beauty of it all is that you can sell pieces, get your investment back, and reinvest, a.k.a. shop some more. It’s a growing market that I’m very happy to be a part of,” said 32-year-old New Jersey financial operations manager Stephanie, who’s made $28,000 on Threadflip. Her strategy involves shopping for brands that age well and hold their value. “I’ve been a collector of Louis Vuitton since age 18 and will continue to do so for the rest of my life due to resale value and quality. If it’s a big-ticket designer item and I can’t find it at 20 to 30 percent off retail and in excellent condition, then I’ll purchase it at retail. Otherwise, I prefer preowned in order to save some money.”
Want to get in the game? Here are some of their top tips for selling whatever you’ve gotten tired of.
“The market is saturated with Coach and Michael Kors, so I like that my inventory is always varied,” Tiffany said. “I have some of everything.” Don’t think that just because a brand is smaller it won’t sell. It’s the Web: People are hunting for specifics.
Take care of your stuff.
All the sellers we spoke with confirmed that better condition brings in higher prices, so taking care of pieces, from when you buy them to how you store them until they’re listed, is vital.
Pay attention to the photos you take.
The better the pictures you post, the more interest you’ll create with shoppers. “Take clear pictures of the front, back, sides, interior, exterior, and any hardware, logos, and serial numbers,” Caroline explained. “I also include pictures of any wear and damage as well.” Skip messy backgrounds when snapping photos, opting for clear, simple surfaces.
Be available to shoppers.
For success on resale apps, think of yourself as a business who wants to make customers happy. Many of the top sellers we spoke to said it’s important to answer questions, ship quickly, and to make listings informative. Consider doing free shipping and allowing people to make offers.
Be realistic about pricing.
“Do your fair research on resale value before listing,” Stephanie said. “If that pair of jeans is selling for $25 on other websites and you list at $100 simply because you purchased them for $200, you’re wasting your time.” A quick browse will make some things obvious: Designer bags hold their value; pricey denim doesn’t.
Be ruthless about letting your stuff go.
Want to make a substantial amount of cash? You’ve got to be willing to part with your goods. If you’re entertaining any thought about putting it up for sale, do it. “If you’re not using it, why not see if someone else might want it?” Tiffany asked. Stephanie operates under the same idea and resists getting attached to things. “I purchased a gorgeous preowned but completely new Louis Vuitton cuff and only used it once in three months. It’s a total beauty, but I lost interested and decided to sell,” she said. “It’s such a large investment to just let sit there without using. I can sell it and buy something else that I’d enjoy more.”