As I moved into the murky waters of my 30’s I started to realize that I didn’t need all new everything. I’m pretty rough on my clothes, between my two jobs and an active lifestyle. I also came to terms with my own person “style”, or lack thereof, and decided that I was never going to be the on-trend trophy wife I briefly imagined myself as in my early 20’s. I started shopping at local thrift and consignment shops, not because we didn’t have the money to buy new clothes, but because I realized that second-hand was usually more than good-enough, and that I’d rather spend the money on other things – like vacations, fixing up our house… or Gelish!
Along the way I’ve created a short list of rules by which I shop second-hand:
- Underwear must never be bought second-hand. This includes panties, bras, and socks.
- If it can be bought from the manufacturer/store at just a few dollars more, it’s an overpriced consignment item.
- If people compliment you on an item and ask where you got it, tell them online and give them the brand. They usually won’t ask any other questions. (At first I felt weird about thrift shopping, so I came up with this strategy. Now I’ve found that most people are open to the idea, at least on the surface, and I just don’t worry about what others think that much anymore.)
So let’s delve into the details of some online thrift stores that I shop at frequently.
I dipped my toes into the water of online consignment shopping at ThredUp.com a couple of years ago.This site is very popular, so they have a good selection of regular and high-end brand clothes, shoes, and handbags for women and children (sorry, no men’s items are available). To sell on Thred up, you order a “cleanout” bags with a prepaid return shipping label, gather up all your brand-name clothing and send it to Thred Up. They sort it at their facility and, for items valued at under $60, they send you a payout in store credit or cash. Items valued over $60 are sold on consignment, which means you’re only paid when the item sells.
Since Thred up has generally already paid for the items they sell on their site, they stand a lot to gain from actually selling the item. Therefore, they market all their items just like any manufacturer – they have sales, they advertise online, and their website and app are clean and easy to navigate.
So let’s say you’re ready to shop on Thred Up. You create an account, of course, but then you can also crate what Thred Up calls Personal Shops, in which you can save your favorite brands and sizes to easily search by later. I have personal shops for jeans, dress clothes, workout gear, and more. It’s great to be able to shop at a glance! Once you’ve found your items to buy, shipping is a flat rate of $5.99, or free if you order $79+.
I really like Thred Up but haven’t shopped there in over a year, because I found a couple other site where I can usually find exactly what I want for really good prices. The first of those is Vinted.
With Vinted you can upload photos of each item you want to sell, along with a few details about its brand, color, size condition, price, etc., to create a listing. Buyers can search through all Vinted listings by keyword, price, brand, color, size, and condition to find what they want. I love Vinted because it’s so easy to search for and find what you want, assuming sellers have listed their items accurately. When someone buys your item Vinted keeps 19%, or $1 minimum, and you get the rest. Vinted handles the exchange of money, so this is basically the fee for using their services. When the buyer marks the item as received, then the seller gets their share of the sale price. If you’re a buyer on Vinted you’re immediately charged for the item you buy, but that charge is automatically refunded if the seller doesn’t ship in three days. Shipping fees are more reasonable on this site, ranging from $3.95-$7.95, I think, depending on item size/weight.
Buyers can also make offers, and sellers can accept or negotiate. All of this is handled through Vinted. Just look out for sellers who haven’t been active for many months. The Vinted site and app will show you when they last logged in and, if it’s been awhile, you may as well not bother buying from them because, in all likelihood, the item won’t be shipped in three days. I actually really like the three-day rule from Vinted. I hate sitting around wondering if my item is going to be shipped. This is one advantage Vinted has over one of my other favorite sites, Poshmark.
Poshmark has lots of listings, and therefore a great selection, and they pride themselves on high-end brands. You can even be certified as a boutique seller if your items were “purchased wholesale or from a distributor, and are being sold to the public for the first time.” As a buyer, if you’re looking for items that are New With Tags (NWT), this is the site to go to!
For sellers – Poshmark takes a 20% fee to sell your items. And they do a better job of selling than Vinted does. They really promote their listings through emails and app notifications. They have various themed parties, like “Men’s Style Party” that you can join… for those who just enjoy the social aspects of it, I suppose. (I’ve never joined a party.)
What I hate about Poshmark is their shipping. They charge a flat $5.95 fee to the buyer for “expedited shipping”. The problem is that if you buy an item the seller has 21 days to ship the item before the sale will automatically be cancelled. Why bother paying for 1-3 days shipping when the seller has three weeks to ship to you?!?! Most sellers take AT LEAST two days to get the item into the mail, so you’re looking at about 4 or 5 days before you get it, minimum. That is where the expedited shipping seems like a rip-off. Case in point: I paid $5.95 for shipping on a $10 NWT cosmetic bag five days ago. The item still has not shipped, and I’m left to wonder if or when it ever will…
If you’re not familiar with Ebay, you really should try it out. They’ve come a long way since inception in the 90’s! The cool thing about Ebay is that it provides consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer sales. There are many times that I am looking for a very specific item and I will check Ebay before I check any of the other sites. As a bonus, shipping costs are usually very reasonable on Ebay (sometimes free!). (I can’t speak to what it’s like being a seller on Ebay, because I’ve never used that feature.)
It seems like Amazon only sold new items years ago, but now you can find all kinds of second-hand items. I love buying used books on Amazon. And over the past few years it’s become more like Ebay, where you can buy just about anything. (As with Ebay, I can’t speak to what it’s like being a seller on Amazon.)
Craigslist, the online yard sale, isn’t my first choice because I live in a small city, but if you live in a more urban area the selection of items would probably be better. Huge points to Craigslist because you can list just about anything, but also, NO SHIPPING!
I’ve actually sold more stuff on Craigslist that I’ve bought, and I find it to be a good option for those of us who don’t care for yard sales. Not only do I not like going to yard sales, but I really don’t like having them. Craigslist lets you post one item or many, all for free. As with Ebay and Amazon, I highly recommend that you browse on Craigslist if you have not tried it before.
Just remember to find a safe and public meeting place to make your sales, if possible (I know some larger items, like furniture, will require the buyer to come to your house). I use the parking lot at my local mall to make the exchange. And always bring a friend or two when picking up items or making a sale.
Note that on all of these sites, except Craigslist, you can use credit card to purchase items, as well as Paypal, I believe. If you have a great site that you shop for used or consignment ites, please let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear about it!