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?