After recently losing weight, suddenly my expensive and beloved jeans no longer fit. I decided to go onto the super popular used clothing site, Poshmark, to see if they had the same or similar jeans in my new smaller size. They did, and instead of the full retail $225 a pair for new jeans I paid $35 for a gently used pair. I was hooked.
Poshmark does a fantastic job for both buyer and seller. You can visit the site to buy or sell on the computer, but the phone app is simple—and addictive. It’s way too easy to scroll through all the used clothes while waiting for appointments or having a cup of morning coffee. The prices are often so reasonable that it is tough not to press the purchase button.
Buyers are protected by Posh Protect, a service that gives a buyer three days to inspect an item to make sure it is not damaged and is as described in the listing. But sellers have benefits too—if a buyer does not complain within three days, their funds are released to the seller. Most buyers are happy with their purchases and most sellers are honest about an item’s condition and provenance. Any sales over $500 go to the Poshmark warehouse before reaching the buyer so that they can be inspected for authenticity if the seller declares it to be a designer item. Bad behavior or dishonesty can get you kicked off the site.
The reason I have never tried to sell anything on eBay or Etsy is the shipping part of the process. The thought of finding the right box, packing something safely and standing in line at UPS or the post office seems way too complicated and time consuming. Poshmark and some other online clothing sales sites have this all figured out. They will e-mail you a prepaid shipping label with the buyer’s address on it and all you have to do is pop the item in a free Priority Mail box or envelope, slap the label on it and drop it at the post office. You don’t have to wait in line unless you want a receipt, and so far I have found that to be unnecessary as I haven’t had a Priority Mail package go missing yet.
The most time-consuming part of the Poshmark process is listing the items. Items sell best when they are photographed well and with multiple angles in good lighting. A flash tends to create shadows and messes with the actual color of the item, and a buyer needs to be able to clearly assess a piece of clothing’s color. In the winter, my daylight hours are limited, so I can only do my Poshmark photography between about 9am and 3pm when there is enough natural light and I’m rarely home during those hours.
Describing the size of an item is also time consuming. The more information you can add to an item’s description, the better, so measuring inseams on pants and armpit to armpit measurements on tops and dresses helps them sell. Is it worth it to photograph, measure, describe, pack and go to the post office to sell a pair of leggings for $13? The answer may be yes if you are selling enough volume or if you go to the post office regularly anyway. There is also some value in knowing your used clothing is going to a happy new owner.
Another benefit to selling clothes online is that you can list off-season items whereas consignment stores only take clothes in season–no winter coats during bikini season and no sun dresses in January. You can list your items and try to sell them off-season and if they don’t sell, you can always drop them at a good consignment shop, like Lolo’s in St. Helena, when the right season rolls back around.
It’s also nice to get a bigger chunk of the sale price when selling online. Typically, you will get 40-50% of the sale price on an item you consign at a store, but with Poshmark the seller gets to keep 80% of the sale price and Poshmark even covers the shipping costs, which is a pretty phenomenal deal. With over one million users, they can afford to do it.
Other online used clothing sales sites, like thredUp and Tradsey, are much less of a commitment. At Poshmark you have your own mini-business, but at thredUp and Tradsey a seller is sent a large envelope and ships a bunch of clothes in for a look-see. They will purchase any items they can resell and will send you cash or give credit on their sites. But since they do all the work of listing the items, they keep the lion’s share of the profits.
The Real Real is another great site, but it is strictly for high-end designer items. To sell, you must make an appointment with a Real Real representative and must have at least 20 items to sell, they must be in near perfect condition (many of the items on the site are new with tags or have never been worn), and they must be no more than two seasons old. The only exception to the two seasons old rule is Chanel. Chanel, unlike a good closet clean-out, is forever.