ThredUp, the secondhand store that looks like a new, mid-range clothing store with a price glitch.
Stocking brands like Banana Republic, Donna Karan and J. Crew literally next to luxury labels like Jimmy Choo and Diane Von Furstenberg can put you in danger of rattling the retail industry. Especially when, on average, you cut MSRP by approximately 80% and source your clothing from customers of other retailers.
It’s a pretty punk-rock way to participate in the online fashion retail game, if you ask me.
Wearing my insanely priced Seychelles from ThredUp – $17!
I was introduced to ThredUp as an online second-hand retailer who was doing things a little differently. The first time I shopped there was in March of 2014, and I will likely never stop. I have probably received a total of 5 polka-dot boxes from them – big, teal polka dots are their signature motif. It’s safe to say that I wear something I got on ThredUp daily, but that’s mostly because I got my everyday handbag from them and it goes with me everywhere.
Then there was that one time when I got five outfits from ThredUp for $62.
$62! Five! That’s bonkers, right? I mean, I’m wearing The Limited, Charlotte Ronson, Anne Taylor LOFT, Simply Vera Vera Wang… Every single piece looks unused. If I received any of these as a gift, I’d have no idea that they were previously owned.
Also, I wasn’t aware of this when I first started shopping there, but ThredUp has sales. They just finished up their semi-annual sale, and by that I mean they extended it and increased the discount from 40% to 50%. Dream store. Just like every other second-hand reseller, they have to clear out old inventory to make way for new stuff. The seasons are changing, and I’m hoping they have an awful lot of sweaters and boots waiting for me.
So we know the ThredUp buying experience is great, what about the selling experience?
The inventory of ThredUp is decided by its customers in the sense that what we send in is what they have for sale. By sending in high-quality clothing to resell, we allow ThredUp to have high-quality items for sale. Seems pretty simple, right? A level of discrimination is definitely necessary – we can’t have pit stains and lipstick collars up for sale!
But how new does something have to look in order for it to be wearable?
I have had several discussions with several people on our Facebook and Twitter about the experience of selling clothes to ThredUp for resale. It piqued my interest because the overwhelming majority of people had heard that the experience was not good. As in, they don’t take much, and what they do take, they don’t really compensate very well for.
This popular opinion was collected from friends of friends, as well as a few personal accounts, so credibility was definitely there. It was feasible that ThredUp was able to offer such crazy prices on excellent clothing by stiffing its resellers, but I hate applying an opinion to something I haven’t tried, so I ordered myself a Clean Out bag and hit my closet.
How I Sold My Clothes Online
FIRST, now that I’ve posted this picture, let me jump in and admit that I had last-minute heartache over those black boots… but the rest all went into the enormous Clean Out bag that they sent me. It was neatly folded up in that bright-ass envelope, and included instructions on how to maximize your payout.
The tips included the brands that they tend to accept the most… as well as brands that they don’t. When I was trying to figure out what to send them, I decided that anything ThredUp said they accepted – I would send to them. Everything else, I’d save for a different reseller. (Don’t hate the player…)
Fortunately, another tip that ThredUp provided was the suggestion to use their Payout Calculator. You can enter the brand of clothing you’re trying to resell and the category of garment it falls into, and it’ll straight up calculate the estimated payout right then and there. The estimation is based on the assumption that your clothes are in great shape, but it’s a nice little fail-safe!
– Unworn heels I got from a clearance sale at Target
– Faux Leather sleeve cardigan (seen here) from Boohoo
– Derek Lam x Kohl’s DesigNation Dress I received in a size small from a PR agency who didn’t care that I’m a person and not a cookie cutter mannequin (bitter, sorry)
– A scarf I picked up at Marshalls several years ago for about $8, I think? (Seen here, actually.)
I dropped the pre-paid bag into the mail on a Friday and by Tuesday, ThredUp had received and connected the bag to my account.
A cool feature of this process: you get to really monitor the progress of your submitted items through the Bag History page. It’s about as accurate and detailed as tracking information on a package. It told me when to expect my payout right away, and delivered on time.
Once my estimated date rolled around, I checked my page and saw an itemized list of the items they accepted, as well as the payout they were offering me.
Wow. They accepted four of four items that I sent them. What? Really? I mean, I guess that a lot of them were only very gently used, but I was still surprised at how… accepting they were, given the horror stories of rejection I’d been hearing. And $25 in my potential pocket?
For the record, I included no information about the brands of the items I sent in. That scarf? Bindya? News to me. They did all that work on their own.
(PS, apparently my scarf has an MSRP of over $70?! That was a pang of almost-regret, but I doubt I could have gotten that kind of money from anyone!)
“We’re the company who would love to buy EVERY SINGLE ITEM you send us. Every item we buy from you, we can sell at a great value to someone else and make some money in the process. We can’t stay in business unless we keep buying items from you. There is absolutely zero reason why we’d try and not buy items from you – after all, we pay to create the bag ($2), ship you the bag ($1), ship the bag back ($12) and pay the wonderful team members who go through each item ($5/bag). That’s $20 per bag. If we get a bag with only a few items in it that we can resell, we actually lose a lot of money, even if we’re able to offset some of this cost by working with our network of recyclers. The more items we can resell from you, the better! I can’t emphasize this enough.”
As you can see from the screencap, I can also watch the progress of my clothes as they’re sold off to new homes. This could get addictive. I can take my money and receive it via Paypal, or I can use it as store credit and start shopping immediately. As I am a regular customer at ThredUp, there is a 99% chance that I will use it as store credit.
Well, it did get addictive. I sent in bags and bags of my lightly used and new clothing that I’d acquired from shopping sprees past, and I finally got rid of that box of “thinner me” clothes. Slowly, my sell rate started going down… and prices at ThredUp started going up. I was sending in 20 lb. bags of clothes and shoes with only 20% of items being accepted.
This was from a bag I could barely close. If you’ve seen their bags, you know how many clothes that is! Also, those 7 For All Mankind jeans were worth way, way, way more than a fraction of $11.60. It said so right on the price tags (which were still attached, btw).
Overall, I’d have to say that my experience selling clothes through ThredUp was neutral, erring on the side of positive. For the amount of clothes I gave them, many of which had to have been rejected for being off-brand because they were virtually new (some with tags), I’m not sure that I got what I should have in compensation.
In retrospect, I wish that I had sold a lot of the clothes on Poshmark, instead.
If ThredUp only wants clothes from certain brands, then I should have sent them my best products and sold the rest on Poshmark, where there are no restrictions on brands accepted. The price to get your rejected clothes back from Thredup is over $10, so you have to cough up cash to get your own clothes back if you want to resell.
The moral of the story is select the clothes you send to ThredUp carefully, and use the payout calculator to determine what you should send. Sell the rest through Poshmark or a second-hand retailer – we’re too broke to let potential cash slip through our fingertips!
What has your ThredUp experience been like?
Leave your story in the comments! I’d love to hear how people have been able to make reselling clothes online work for them, or any struggles you’ve encountered in trying to get some cash for your stuff.