How To Clean Out Your Closet For Cash (Safely)

Spark joy and sprinkle pixie dust as you are ready to manifest a whole new you. Though we have left off the chaos of January, February is where we need to realign our thinking for the better. In that case, it means letting go of questionable quarantine purchases, regrettable one-time use dresses you bought for Instagram and/or one too many Lulu Lemon leggings that you embarrassingly hoarded after you graduated college. The same goes for that one Bottega Pouch bag that you are desperate to sell after you realize that you can’t fit your iPhone inside. (#firstworldproblems!!) As you tap into your inner Marie Kondo, KonMari’ing your closet is one of the biggest decisions in life as you have to think hard about whether you will wear something again. If you’ve been struggling to make some cash, take this opportunity to get your hustle on. Even if you’re a novice to selling clothes for cash, being your own boss takes a lot of hard, but very useful lessons.

While it’s so easy to spend money, it’s hard to make your bank account prosper if you keep falling into traps and shortcuts. A seasoned seller since college, cashing in clothes for money gave me the satisfaction to able to treat myself to a decent sandwich from Mendocino Farms or a budget sushi meal at Sugarfish. From my early days of Facebook groups and eBay, I’ve graduated to The Real Real, Poshmark and Depop to make it rain. While I am only on Depop and Vestiaire Collective, I still consign to local luxury secondhand shops like Reebonz or The Fifth Collection in Singapore.

Though I am not at the level of Marie Kondo, I take every experience as a learning curve for myself. Here are my top tips and tricks to resell like a boss:

  1. Research the value

What does Chanel mean to you? Which season did your LV bag appear on the runway? How valuable is a pair of limited edition Nikes to you? Who wore the same Miaou corset as you? These are questions that you have to ask yourself everyday before you sell. If you feel that a certain brand has more value to you than another, you have every right to price it as much as you’d like. However, just because you price it for one site doesn’t mean that you have to apply the same price tag on another resale site. When something has a historical value, try pricing that a bit more higher than the rest of your stuff. No matter what brands you have, take note of your inventory and see how other sellers price the same thing.

2. Not all platforms are made equal

Different platforms are made for different people. eBay is made for everyone who likes to search for secondhand goods that you can price at however you wish to price it whereas Vestiaire Collective is made for those who adore luxury goods at good deals. Depop is made for the Instabrand lover, thrift store queen/king and super cool rare gems. Etsy is for those who hate haggling for prices, but enjoys one of a kind vintage treasures that you can’t find anywhere else. While all of these sites are great for international sellers, some renown sites like Tradesy, Poshmark or The Real Real are only made for US shoppers only. While shopping is thrilling, yet chaotic, I love that there’s something for everyone.

3. BE PATIENT

I cannot tell you how many times I failed this test. When you’re desperate for cash, you just want it fast. Buyers know what you want at the end. As a buyer, I also want to buy an item from the owner because I love it. While it’s a healthy symbiotic relationship, there are moments when a buyer is testing your patience. For buyers who keep on asking specific questions about an item, they are most likely not going to buy it most of the time. If a buyer doesn’t pose too many questions, they are most likely going to buy it or ghost after you respond. As a seller, it’s honestly so frustrating because I dislike having to lose contact with a potential customer. However, I have to remain optimistic that someone will love a pair of vintage jeans or secondhand designer dress as much as I do. Apart from having to wait for the right buyer, patience also pays off when you count on your instincts.

4. Raise questions with your buyer

As a seller, I have made the mistake of not questioning my buyer enough. There were moments when I trusted the buyer too much to the point where he/she took advantage of me. Not every buyer has good intentions. They’ll either: A) return the item to you after wearing it (happened to me on eBay), B) scam you (happened to me once on Depop), C) pretend to be another person or D) beg you to keep the item for them even though they’ve purposely stalled you. While all of these situations are bad, the third one is where you need to exercise caution.

Recently, I was on Carousell and a buyer was interested in a dress I was selling. This person asked me to try it on and I complied.

See how many uses of “babe” are in there?? This should’ve been a sign.
Sir, my nipples are not worth your time to think about LOL

Even though I didn’t show my face, I felt so embarrassed that I didn’t raise any questions about him sooner as I found out his TRUE gender while going through a review where another buyer outed him for selling Pokémon cards!

Little did I know that this buyer was actually a male POSING as a female! I confronted him, but he ghosted. I blocked him, then reported the user to Carousell and e-mailed one of the founders, whom I contacted through Twitter. Unfortunately, this is a problem that’s all too common inside the app. If you have anything suspicious like this, always always ALWAYS raise a question and confront. You deserve to be protected at ALL cost.

Even when you report, make sure that the app takes it SERIOUSLY.

I had to complain to the Support Team and the founder about this
Vern, thank you!

I know that while negative moments like this are not expected, I feel that every woman deserves to BE in a safe space to conduct her business without being harassed by perverts. If you ever experience being harassed on a resale app, please don’t be afraid to file a report, e-mail the customer service/founder of the company and say it louder on social media because that’s where everyone will be warned to anticipate what happens. Although I am upset that it happened to me, I am grateful to have a platform to be able to speak up publicly about this because I feel that sharing stories about harassment needs to be destigmatized.

P.S. My experience on Carousell is an example of what happens there, but harassment is a common issue across ALL apps.

5. TRUST YOUR GUT!

I have failed to trust my gut more than once, but lately, I’ve been learning to lean into it more. I find that as an Aspie, it’s hard for me to be aware of online cues at times because it’s all typed out on a keyboard. However, intuition is worth more than profit. If you let yourself get into the hands of the wrong person, then you’re setting yourself up for trouble without meaning to as I’ve been there before. If you feel like a customer’s been sketchy, it’s best to cancel the deal before you get scammed. Though scamming happens before a purchase is completed, some customers will try to cheat you to get their money back by blaming you for sending a default item. (I wish I had screenshotted this as it happened to me on eBay over a Nasty Gal crop top in 2016!) You have to keep on fighting for yourself even when you know that you never did anything wrong. Remember: resale apps are on the SIDE of the customer most of the time, but you still need to fight for yourself even when you know that the customer was the one who is trying to cheat the system by taking advantage of you. Sadly, sellers get a bad rap for trying to take advantage of the system when it’s the customer who cheats. (I am speaking from experience as a seller!)

Nevertheless, your intuition is downloading things into your brain that defeats logic. Though you want to give every customer the benefit of doubt, sometimes, you just have to go along with the first instinct and protect yourself.

6. It’s OK to say no to a deal

No matter what app you use, there will be people who want to mess with you. Whether it’s lowballing or flaking out on a deal by not showing up during a meet up, don’t wait on anyone because you deserver BETTER! While you may feel guilty for losing out on a potential deal, always remind yourself that saying “no” is better than saying “yes”.

While most of you are still under lockdown, some countries like Singapore and Australia are moving so fast that anyone can meet up publicly. Though we prefer to remain cautious about COVID, delivery is the best deal as you don’t have to be obliged to meet up with anyone.

If a buyer ghosts you, but comes back like Casper, it’s best to say “no”. Thank you, next!

7. Use attractive keywords

Big name brands or Instafamous names always get more engagement than some of the smaller branded goods I sell. Keywords help to specify what you and your buyer are looking for. Given that most vintage and vintage-inspired items are often confused for each other, you have to disclose that one of these things is not like the other. Use simple, but engaging tags that can get attract traffic. While it’s great to target a big market, sometimes, you need to think niche to attract a small, but very powerful community to buy your item as popular hashtags can make your item get drowned out in a sea of other items. Remember: every resale app is like Instagram and its algorithm.

8. Take photos

I love modelling my goods because I find that it’s easier for buyers to see how a garment looks on a person. I enjoy styling myself and being my own photographer as I like to be particular about how the item is photographed. Not only has it helped me to build up my creative director role, it’s also helped my buyers and I build a seller-customer relationship transparency. However, if anyone takes photos from the Internet, it’s because it’s easier to see how an item looks when modeled on someone (when you don’t have the time to model it yourself), attract more prospective customers (if it’s a celebrity wearing it) and/or privacy. I don’t like to show my face too much when I model as I want to protect my privacy and surroundings; however, I have to give up a little bit of it for the sake of this job. Some apps put a limit on how many photos you can upload while some allows you to upload as many as possible to see all the flaws if there are any. I find that showing the item through real photos helps me to prove that it is as real as it looks. While Depop and eBay allows me to use photos from the Internet, Vestiaire Collective is a bit more strict about it as they only prefer to see real life photos of a garment.

9. Commission Fees

Some resale apps take a small percentage of your earnings. Depop take 10% while Vestiaire takes 30%. If money is a concern to you, use a resale site that has the smallest commission fee. After all, the choice is yours. 😉

10. Organize your drop

Drop ships are hot RN and I find that it’s been able to help me become more organized. When you launch a drop, think about the time when most people would be active on the app or a holiday. If you have no date or holiday in mind, you can launch a drop based on color, designer or style. I think that looking consistent is key to being able to make your shop look neat.

Published by

Michelle Varinata

Lapis - (n.) a layer Shrek once said that "onions have layers" as he was peeling one. Like an onion, I have layers. Born in Jakarta and raised in Singapore, I grew up being surrounded in a multicultural environment. Then, I moved to the States, where I lived in NYC and L.A. The creativity, hustle, bustle and vibe of those cities inspired me to become a blogger, journalist and influencer. Writing by day and living it up by night, I slay in the streets one OOTD at a time. Full-face makeup included, too. ;)

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