By Susan Tompor Detroit Free Press
Kathy Adams has created her own consignment boutique of sorts out of her closet.
That L.A.M.B. bag that always seemed too heavy and its matching brown-leather-with-suede-trim accessories? She sold it all for $675. Yes, she paid about $1,000 for those items at Nordstrom. But it’s gone, out of her life, and she’s freed up some cash to buy something else.
“Once you start selling things, it’s pretty addicting,” said the 52-year-old Adams, who lives in Sterling Heights, Mich., and sells online via the Poshmark marketplace, where sellers and buyers go online or via mobile phone for women’s clothing, shoes and accessories.
It’s a new year and time to de-clutter. It’s also time to consider whether there’s actually a way to make money unloading skirts that were marked down 70 percent but never did fit, trophy purses or all those blazers that you’ll never work enough hours to actually wear.
For some women, selling stuff is a creative hobby to find money to buy more cool stuff. But is it a fast way to make big bucks? Not exactly.
I met one retired woman in mid-December who was carrying what some might consider “investment” clothing into a resale shop in Clawson, Mich.
She was selling a smartly tailored Banana Republic suit and a Lafayette 148 executive-style dress. She said she thought her clothes cost more than $500 new. But she was offered less than $15 on the spot. She declined the money and decided to see whether she could get more money by going to a consignment shop.
Some consignment shops can give you 40 percent to 45 percent of the price the merchandise sells for at the consignment shop. You also must wait for an item to sell before you get any cash. But Rita later told me the consignment shop didn’t want her items because the shop wasn’t buying winter items right now. She plans to donate the clothes now to someone else.
Sellers online can run into snags, too. One seller complained to the Better Business Bureau that she sold a flawless bag via Poshmark but the buyer said it was stained and did not want to pay after receiving the item.
The complaint eventually was resolved when $28, after a 20 percent commission to Poshmark, was directly deposited to her account.
Another woman complained to the BBB that she sold size 8 Ugg boots in good condition but then the Poshmark buyer didn’t want to pay and argued the boots were stained. The seller had paid $135 for the boots and sold them for $50. Later, $40 in earnings, again after the 20 percent commission, was released to her.
Yet sellers who are prepared for some hassle say unloading some of their own stockpile can turn into a way to raise extra cash.
Think of this one like recycling metal at the scrapyard, but with slightly more panache.
Amber Gauthier, 34, said she has been able to make about $50 a month selling size 8 to size 10 clothes that are too big for her after she lost 15 pounds. She has sold shoes, including polka dot flats that cost her $15 that she never wore. She got about $8 for those flats.
“But it was better than zero dollars,” she said.
To make things work for her, Gauthier said she has taken time to learn the culture of where she sells items online.
A Poshmark seller needs to build a following in that social network and show enthusiasm for items being posted by other sellers, too.
Prices, while negotiable, need to be realistic, based on what’s selling at a particular store or site. A cashmere sweater bought on sale for $100 might sell for $30.
Some items turn into be super bargains. Someone sold $450 Prada boots for $50 on Poshmark, and Kathy Adams is thrilled to own those boots now. “They look brand-new.”
“I am a big shoe fiend,” Gauthier said. She said she has about 100 pairs of shoes but realized that it’s OK to go through her own closet and sell off some pairs that she maybe wore once.
Adams said she has sold some other handbags, including Coach bags as a way to trade up and buy a $3,000 Chanel purse.
“It’s money sitting there,” she said.
Be prepared to wait for any money. It can take a while for an item to sell. Some resale shops that pay cash on the spot warn that it could take 20 minutes or a few hours before they can price your items, depending on the traffic at the store that day.
Take time to go online to see complaints about any online selling service or community resale shops. You might avoid problems by understanding some issues that can take place.
If selling something that’s not in perfect condition, do not misrepresent the item or price it too high.
Understand that some resale shops only take goods on select days, or some might set limits on how many items you can bring on one day.
Some resale stores and sites post suggestions and guidelines. So take time to research what a particular store or online service usually sells. Don’t take high-end items to a resale store that prices goods at less than $10 or $15.
Selling winter clothes in March isn’t the best strategy. Ask what kind of merchandise the store could use before lugging over a bunch of clothes.
SOURCE: Detroit Free Press research