When I first began the process of creating a minimalist (or at least useful) closet, I did a lot of decluttering. I had clothes that I hadn’t worn in years that were in great condition (those went to charity), some clothing that was barely worn that I didn’t love, clothes that were gifts that didn’t work on my body and other clothes that I had bought back when I worked a corporate job but never wore (literally still had tags on them). I tried Buffalo Exchange here, but they were mostly work clothes and nowhere near trendy enough for them. Then I found ThredUp.com, and I thought I found the answer to how to declutter my closet.
I’ll give it to you straight. When I first started using them, I told all my friends about them. I recommended ThredUp.com to anyone looking to clean out their closet. A free clean-out bag was sent to the house to be filled and sent back to them (postage was already paid). What they didn’t accept, they would send back to you for a fee, or they claimed to donate it. Bag processing took about two weeks and then you had to wait two weeks to get paid (you could use the credit at their store right away).
Easy, right? Even though the payouts were never huge for non-designer/non-consignment items, it was still more than I was going to get from setting up a garage sale or selling on eBay (and far less hassle). Over the last three years (or so), I have sold through the service 12 times and have earned a lifetime payout of $214.31.
I have never bought clothing on ThredUp.com, but judging by how picky they were with the stuff I have sent them, it seems likely that they were only re-selling stuff that was in terrific condition and at a huge discount. It looks like you can get a great deal on designer items throughout the year.
Now comes the list of caveats for using them to declutter your closet.
The first problem came with the extended periods of time for processing. They give you a month’s estimate, but it can take longer. They send you an email note mentioning that they are experiencing a high volume of bags and that the time will be longer than normal – I’ve been getting that note for nearly two years.
[Update: There is now a new, additional service that guarantees a 1 week response to your clean out bag — for a $16.99 processing fee. Unless you expect to get A LOT of money from them, going the expedited route makes zero sense. ]
Service Fees and Lower Payouts
There are now service fees deducted from earnings, even if you don’t get the expedited service. That is a huge chunk when my average payout has fallen to below $20. Yes, that has changed, as well. Even for designer clothing, the payouts are much lower. It’s still great for the buyers because they are getting even bigger discounts, but as a seller, it makes me rethink.
They say they are just picky about what they accept, and you can request your unaccepted items be returned to you for a fee. But it’s a little weird when you send something that is from a brand they accept, with the tags still on it, that is in season, in style and in perfect condition, and it doesn’t show up in your selling items list (a new black wrap dress is hardly a risky buy). If it had happened only once, I probably would have shrugged it off. But in the last two years (the same time as all those “we’re very busy” emails), it has happened numerous times. Are they donating them? Are they selling to third-party sites (which feels like a pretty big violation of what I understood our contract to be)? I don’t have proof either way, but given that the items were in perfect condition, you know I’m leaning towards the latter. I suppose I shouldn’t care because I was getting rid of the items anyway, and yet, I do.
Will I continue using the service? Probably not. If I’m in the “something is better than nothing” situation, I might. When you live paycheck to paycheck as I do at times, getting an extra $9 (minus PayPal fees, of course) will make me smile. But the recent changes have made me start looking for other options. Luckily, I’m also nearing the end of the wardrobe makeover/declutter with my closet, so it won’t matter as much as it did three years ago when I started.
How about you? Do you have a great way to declutter your closet and upsize your bank account?
17 Replies to “Do You Need to Declutter Your Closet?”
Wow, this is a clever idea although the payouts and fees are sort of making me lean towards showing up to resale and consignment shops locally that buy clothes. Before I moved abroad I got rid of 80% of my closet (I used to work in fashion and would get tons of samples too). It took ALOT of work but I ended up making at least $800 selling to at least 6 different locations…it would have been nice to have this option back then, although I’d be nervous they wouldn’t accept something and I would end up owing money.
It really was super convenient and fairly decent money when they started. I suppose it is possible that they grew too quickly, and now are focusing on buyers to scale down their inventory. I do know that in the wake of their success, other companies that focus on designer clothing have sprung up, and I bet your samples would have been big hits.
And major kudos to you for being able to get rid of 80% of your closet! It has taken me years to get down to where I am now.
I am a huuuge fan of thredup! I have bought from them as well as sent in my old clothes. One time I bought a 100% cashmere sweater and it was in excellent condition (and got it for under $20!). Another time I bought a romper and it was in great condition, but it fit weird. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that it had been altered. A bit of a disappointment, but I’ve had tons of positive experiences that outway the bad ones 🙂
They seem like a good bet on the buy side for sure! I know quite a few fashion bloggers who use them, and they are usually happy with their finds.
I wish I’d read this earlier this year! I did a massive cleanout of my closet, since it’s clear that it’ll be a long time before I go into an office regularly again. I was happy to let go of a lot of work clothes, but some office dresses were super cute. At least my building has a donation bin, so I knew they’d go to a good place, but it would have been better to get a little $$$ for some of my nicer pieces!
The promise of a little cash keeps me coming back, although I do end up donating a lot because I know how picky ThredUp is. But the good news is your stuff is going to a good place!
This is such a great thing to do. My parents have so many vintage clothes that are very unique. Would be interesting to try this out. Do you know if they do it outside of the US? 🙂
That’s a good question, I don’t. But I bet there is a service out there that looks specifically for vintage clothing, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it had shipping points outside the US. ThredUp seems to focus on clothing that are within the last couple of seasons.
My solution isn’t the greatest for my wallet but I use rent the runway unlimited. I never buy clothes anymore though. I’ve donated a ton of stuff. It’s definitely helped minimize what’s in my closet and keep my wardrobe fresh!
I’ve heard great things about Rent the Runway, particularly for people who have a lot of events for work. I know I’d be tempted if I had something coming up and couldn’t shell out cash to buy something new.
This sounds like a really neat program! The only thing I don’t like are the fees and needing approval. If it was a place I could walk into, I would like that even more! Maybe they’ll create brick and mortar stations. Ha! 😉
I’d really prefer that, too. It would dramatically cut down on the hold time and then I could figure out what to do with the things they don’t accept (without paying a return item fee).
I think closet cleaning is something which comes up frequently for us. No matter how often we clear, the closet accumulates stuff with magical regularity. The major culprits are clothes of course.
So amazing! How come I didn’t know about this service before! My closet is packed and I’ve got nothing to wear. Thank you 🙂
Hope it works out for you!
This seems like an amazing service and something I really wish I had when I left the states a few years ago. I gave away so many incredible pieces of clothing and accessories and I’m sure I could have made a decent profit. I really gotta get into living a more minimalistic lifestyle, especially as I’m on the move as often as I am. I do fine when I’m traveling, but it’s when I settle down for a few months to a year that I gain more items than I need. Thanks for sharing!
I find that I’m really good at keeping things lean for about three months and then I start accumulating again. It’s very similar to what happens after I clean out my purse. 😉
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