The January Cure: Day 13

This weekend I was supposed to work on the bedroom and get flowers. I'll pick up some flowers when I'm out tomorrow, but I got lucky because the bedroom was really, really close to being finished. I've been doing tons of work on my closet and drawers, so all it really needed was a quick dust and vacuum, then Jud washed the sheets.

So, since I've been working hard to whittle down my clothes, shoes, and accessories, I thought I'd share some tips on reselling them. As I mentioned last weekend, we made $215 by visiting our favorite resale shops. Here's how:

1. Purge, purge, purge. The first step is going go through your closet and be ruthless. Pull out everything that doesn't fit, is stained, that you don't wear any more, and that is no longer representative of your style. Then do it again. Try on things that you're unsure about. Think about when you last wore something. I've had items that I'll wear nonstop for one season, and then next season I don't give them a second look. The chances that I'll pull that item out next year and wear it again? Pretty slim. Don't forget to go through all your shoes, jewelry, and accessories as well.

2. Sort. Inspect each item closely and sort into two piles: one to sell, and one to donate. Anything that is stained, pilling, ripped, or missing buttons should go into the donate pile. Also throw in anything that counts as a pajama or undergarment; resale places rarely take those.

4. Know where to sell. I'm lucky to live in a large city with multiple options. I always hit up several, and I do it in order from where I think I'll make the most money and be the most successful to where I think I'll have the least luck. Do some searching online to find places, then stop in before you want to sell so you can get an idea of what kinds of items they buy and how much they sell them for.

Locally, Rag-O-Rama is my favorite, and they now have two locations. I go to both. There are also two Plato's Closets in Atlanta. Buffalo Exchange has also just opened up here, so that's on my list too. That's five places that I can–and do–go. Last weekend we hit up four out of five. The first Rag-O-Rama gave us about $40, the second gave us $130, Buffalo Exchange gave us another $40, and Plato's Closet (the last stop) only bought two things and gave us $5.

I prefer to go to stores that pay cash right away vs. consignment stores. If you're selling designer labels or higher-value items, then consignment may be a good option.

4. Pack it up. Clothes don't need to be wrinkle-free to resell them, but they should be clean and folded neatly. Wash anything that needs it, and toss anything that smells musty into the dryer for a few minutes (a few spritzes of Febreze also helps). Fold everything up and put it in large shopping bags or reusable grocery bags. A lot of people take their clothes in garbage bags, but I think that implies that what's inside is garbage.

5. Sell! When I can, I try to show up right when the stores open so that I don't have a long wait. If it's your first time, they'll explain their process to you. On average, most places will give you around 50% of the price that they'll sell it for in store credit, or 30% in cash. I always, always take the cash. If it's going to take more than 20 minutes for them to go through my bags, I leave the store and come back later. Personally, I rarely see much in the store that I want or need, and I want to avoid the temptation to spend the money I've just made.

Also, and this is really important, you absolutely can't let yourself think about how much money you've made vs. how much you originally spent. It's a losing game. If you sold an item that you wore many times and loved, then getting some cash for it is just an added bonus; you already got your money's worth out of it. If you sold an item that you never really wore, then you learned a valuable lesson about what's realistic for your lifestyle.

6. If at first you don't succeed, try try again. There are always a few items that are in perfect condition that, for whatever reason, the store doesn't purchase. Maybe it's out of season, maybe they already have several similar items in stock, or maybe they are currently looking for other sizes. Or, maybe the salesperson that day just overlooked it. Pull out the items that you think deserve a second chance and use that bag as the starter for your next visit. Donate the rest.

7. Become a more mindful shopper. The most valuable part of this process is that it makes you really think about what you do and don't wear, what you do and don't like, and what fits into your lifestyle. Use this information the next time you go shopping. I, for example, am always drawn to sparkly things, but I very rarely wear them. Last week I found myself seriously considering a sequined miniskirt and a pair of gold boots (both on sale), but I was able to think rationally and realize that the chances of me getting my money's worth out of them were slim. So, I passed.

8. Keep it up. I sell about once a season and comb through my closet each time to evaluate what needs to go. Each time I get a little better at approaching the task rationally and not getting too sentimental. Think about the value of having room in your closet and your drawers for new items that you will find and love. Some people have a one-in-one-out rule. For me, I don't ever buy new coathangers. If I run out, I know it's time for another critical look.

Good luck and happy selling! I haven't tried my hand at selling online, but I know that there are a lot of new websites and apps popping up to help you do just that. If you don't live in an area with good in-store options, those may be worth looking at.

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