How To Sell Your Vintage Clothing
Spring is right around the corner and with that comes spring cleaning, and maybe that means you will be going through your wardrobe and deciding to part with a few things. And there are many venues to take your now unwanted vintage garments.
If you have a few vintage garments that are a little on the sad side, but still wearable, a resale shop, such as Buffalo Exchange, (NOTE: It has come to my attention that not all Buffalo Exchanges are equal. Some do not buy vintage) is going to be a good option. You can check Yelp to find other, independent resale shops in your city to take your clothes to too. Calling ahead is key to knowing your options and details of buying policies.
So, what should you expect when you take your clothing to a resale shop? When you approach the counter, the buyer will ask you if you’ve sold before, and if you’re new they usually request a photo ID. Then they lay out their buying policies. Typically, a shop will offer you 30% cash or 50% trade credit of what the shop will sell the item for. And keep in mind, many resale shops like to keep their prices low, and the lower their prices, the less you get. When you bring a bag of clothing to Buffalo Exchange they will look over the garment, and price the item right there. If they want to pass on an item, the buyer may tell you why they are passing. The items that are unwanted are yours to take back, but some stores will donate the items for you if you do not wish to take them back. Once they are done, you are given your totals, X amount in trade or X amount in cash. You can use your trade right then and there, or save it, and they will put it on a gift card for you. You can also take the cash, and yes, you get cold, hard cash right on the spot! However, if you decide you want to overhaul your entire closet and end up with $200 in cash, you may be asked if a check is okay.
Sometimes you need to part with some really good vintage. Maybe you were in the heat of the moment and needed to buy it, but now it’s not working, maybe you went through a 60s phase, and now dig the 40s, or your weight changed. Whatever, the point is, that garment needs to go. If you’re already buying vintage, then you may already be familiar with the vintage shops near you. Next time you’re in, talk with the owner to see if they buy and what their buying methods are for people who bring their items in. Vintage shop buying varies from owner to owner. Some are very honest and upfront about their buying, and will offer the 30% cash or 50% trade option, while others may offer a flat amount. Decide how you want to go about selling. Does it matter to you how much profit the shop owner is going to make off of your items? Talking with a shop owner in person or on the phone about their buying policies, including when they buy (as some may only buy on certain days or by appointment only), is an important first move before hauling your garments to a shop.
Consignment is still an option out there, but there may be fewer shops that accept consignment than buy outright, as it is rather complicated, and there are lots of restrictions regarding consignment, such as how much you receive, and how long the item is going to be on the floor. So once again, be sure you know before you go. The upside to consignment verses selling outright is that you usually get more money, but the downside is that you have to wait until your items sell to get your money. I cannot offer any personal perspective on consignment, as I have not done it.
Then you can just sell the items yourself! But it takes a lot more work. You have to take decent photos, measure properly, describe any issues the garment may have, be able to answer customer questions, and ship properly. People expect a certain level of professionalism with Etsy and Ebay, and you need to be able to deliver that. Also, you still have to live with the garment you were wanting to get rid of until it sells.
The Bottom Line
What all of this comes down to is what you are looking for in getting rid of garments. Are you more interested in getting money or space? Are you concerned about how much money you will make? For me, I’m all about my sanity, so that means getting rid of items as quickly and as painlessly as possible, with very few exceptions of listing on-line. I take my nicer vintage to places such as Simply Vintage, Living Threads or Wanderlust, (UPDATE: All of these shops no longer have brick-and-mortar shops) where I get trade. Then I take my so-so vintage (and the items that the higher end shops didn’t take) to Buffalo Exchange (but I also have the luxury of having a space at an antique mall where I do take some items), and take the trade, knowing that every so often, vintage walks in the door. The remaining items are donated.
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7 comments on “How To Sell Your Vintage Clothing”
Great tips! My Buffalo Exchange will not except to many vintage items. I walked in with a bag full of clothing and walked out with the same bag of clothing. Their explanation was my clothing was out dated. My Buffalo Exchange prefers trendy items. Selling on Ebay and Etsy works the best for me. This way I know for sure someone will absolutely buy the clothes I no longer need. Just as Atomic Redhead pointed out selling online does take time. Not every thing you list online will sell right away it may take months or years. On the rare occasion an item that has been listed within a few days will be sold and going to good homes, this is why details, tags, and photos are very important to make sure an item is noticed right away. I love selling my stuff online and seeing someone very happy.
I find that really interesting that your Buffalo doesn’t accept vintage! I guess each Buffalo must cater to the town that it’s in. And here in Portland, vintage is a thing, and they know they can always make money on it.
Oh, I even have an AS IS tag of vintage items that are still usable. I make sure to list all of the defects and let the buyer know before hand that the listed in the AS Is clothing section of my Etsy shop. I let the buyer know in the description boy that the clothing listed here might not be ware able and can be used for fabric scraps or costume displays. I got this great idea from my favorite online vintage shop Dandelion Vintage. Also pricing items is key to getting items sold fast. I try to keep my prices low but not so low that I end up loosing money. If I’m stuck on how to price an or list an item I pop on over to Dandelion Vintage for some inspiration.
in germany consingment is the most common thing. almost all of the second hand shops here do consignment. but most of them aren’t too much into true vintage stuff, they are more interested in ‘in-fashion’ pieces (here in berlin: 80s and early 90s or selling high street fashion).
the frustrating part about consignement is, that people are rating your clothes. sometimes you feel really bad …
i like to bring my more fashionable vintage pieces to a consignment shop around the corner, if they sell, you get good money – i take the high street fashion pieces to a another shop that buys the stuff right away for just little money – and the true vintage things i sell online. its pretty time consuming but it’s the best way to make the most money.
with some lovely friends i organized a fashion flea market. this was a fun event to get rid of your things … i made good money and got a lot of room in my wardrobe. i really miss those events. the good thing about a true fashion flea market: people like to spend more then on a normal flea market.
her in germany trading isn’t so well known and popular. i would love to have a buffalo exchange here …
This is a great post! I have a great relationship with a local woman who owns an Etsy shop and a brick and mortar shop. I call her every other year and get rid of a LOT of stuff (5-6 garbage bags every time – I seem to accumulate a lot of things in a few years). She gives me a great price and I purge my closet/collection. She offers me such good prices on my stuff I’ve started buying items specifically to sell to her.
Great suggestions! I second Miss Nathalie re: Buffalo Exchange. I live in San Francisco in a neighborhood called the Mission. It is RARE that my local BE wants any of my things; my style is just pretty different from what sells. (They’re definitely looking for more hipster and trendy stuff, or 80s/90s. Not classic contemporary or older vintage.) BUT I’ve noticed that the stock varies greatly even between different store locations within San Francisco, or between San Francisco and Berkeley. So it’s a great option, and I always swing by there on my way to the thrift store, just in case. I’d advise people not to take it at all personally if places like Buffalo Exchange don’t want to buy their clothes. They base their decisions on demographics, the season, and what they currently are well (or over-) stocked with. And I’ve found that the employees vary greatly in how nicely (or not) they decline to buy.
Really terrific post – and a timely one at that, as I plan to weed out a few items this year myself (I don’t have a huge wardrobe – despite what my darling husband might have you believe! 😀 – so I don’t want to part with a lot, just those items that don’t fit well). The only one of these options (well, I guess short of a yard sale – but that would be letting them go for far less than I’m comfortable with) I can avail of in my area is to sell online, so that’s what I’ll be doing.