I don’t call myself an expert in selling my used men’s clothes, but I’ve been around the block dozens of times between multiple Buffalo Exchanges and Crossroads.
And not only do I have experience with the two franchises above, depending on how much of a load I have, I’ll hit up multiple stores in one day. More on that later.
With some experience selling used clothing for cold, hard cash — I’ve walked off with over $100 a handful of times — I wanted to put together a best practice guide for all the newbies out there and those that want to squeeze every penny out of their worn shirts and jeans.
You might not get close to $100, but if you prepare yourself and have a little luck, it can be definitely worth your investment. Here’s what you should consider when selling your used clothing, in order of priority:
#1 BUYER: When walking into the store, there are typically one or two buyers. The right buyer is the most-important aspect and most-difficult to control. I’ve had buyers that passed on everything (a couple times), buyers that bought almost everything I had, and everything in-between. Yes, they’re supposed to be trained to look for the same things, but some buyers are just less… picky. Not that they’re buying a busted Hanes t-shirt with holes and armpit stains, but they’re just more open and typically, more friendly.
That’s the keyword, you can’t read a buyer by their gender or personal style, but it seems the nicer and friendlier and talkative the buyer is, the more likely they’ll take more of what you’re selling. If you can stay away from the grouches (and there’s a lot of them), you stand a fair chance of walking out with some money. In any case, being polite and chatting with the buyer will help your cause.
Obviously, this is all dependent on whether you have stylish, quality goods that they want…
#2 DEMAND/LOCATION: Most Buffalo Exchanges locations have a bulletin board in-store detailing the styles and items that are in-demand — no matter what season they’re in. As we mentioned in the past, the location of the store is a huge factor when you buy/sell. A Buffalo Exchange in the East Village is different in Chelsea is different in Brooklyn — the styles, and buyers, vary by neighborhood.
For example, my recent visit to the East Village store was looking for men’s bags and men’s lightweight clothing. Look for this information before hauling your inventory in, or give them a call and ask them what they’re jonesing for (sometimes a specific store will post their “needs” on BuffaloExchange.com)
#3 SEASON: Season matters; don’t try selling a parka or scarf in the summer months. And you’re not going to get any bites on shorts and tank tops in the winter months no matter how stylish and vintage it is.
#4 STYLE: The next visual cue for the buyer would be the clothing’s style. With most items, a buyer can immediately tell if it’s in-style or they’re interested in with a quick glance. I’ve seen buyers not even unfold the piece of clothing; moving it from the sellers bag to the “pass” pile. Your best bet is to sell clothing from the last couple seasons, with designer labels and are vintage — if your item meets all three criteria, you’re in really good shape. Items buyers are likely to pass on: an Old Navy t-shirt from 2009 (see below).
#5 QUALITY: If they’re interested in the style of the item, they’ll look to inspect the quality — is it missing buttons? Are there stains? Does the zipper work? Here’s a quote from Chrissy Giles, an assistant manager and buyer for Buffalo Exchange:
It has to be in good condition. We want the store to look nice. We don’t want items that are too faded or too worn — it can’t have had much of a “life” before it comes to us… Beyond that, we look at the construction of the garment. Say the label fell off — is this something that’s made well? Is it going to keep up in the store? Are there holes in it?
Quality isn’t just a couple loose threads and wear/tear, but the presentation matters too. Before getting to the store, fold up your items nicely and don’t forget to remove dirty socks and old underwear from the pile. Once, I accidentally left some undies in my bag and it didn’t go over well. She basically didn’t look at the rest of my stuff after seeing the unmentionables. I wasn’t happy she stopped, but I understood.
#6 TRY AGAIN Don’t be discouraged if you don’t sell as much as you’d like. As mentioned, a lot depends on your buyer. If you just tried selling some clothes at Crossroads, nothing is stopping you from taking it to a Buffalo Exchange immediately after. There’s no non-compete clause you agree to, so what do you have to lose?
Just yesterday, out of approximately 50 items I brought to the first Buffaloo Exchange, I sold just 5-6 items and pocketed a respectable $28. Right after, I took the same rejected items to a different Buffalo Exchange uptown and sold another 25+ for a cool $116. If that doesn’t tell you it depends on location/buyer then I don’t know what will.
If it wasn’t pushing 90 degrees, I would have walked a couple blocks and pushed my luck with a Crossroads to try and squeeze another $15 out of the remaining, but decided to call it a day.
Another way of trying again is paying attention to the season, are you selling jackets, jeans and sweaters in the summer? Save those pieces for a couple months later when it’s Autumn. Heck, for items that they pass on and I think they SHOULD buy, I’ve taken those clothes back home and brought them back for another try (and hopefully another buyer) with mixed results.
If you’re considering selling your used clothes, base your expectations on how much work you want to put into it and consider the above attributes that the buyers are looking for. Good luck.