Consignment shops are notoriously at the top of lists of ways to earn extra money, declutter, and move toward minimal lifestyles. However, for me, that meant lugging a bag or tote full of 10-year old suits and shoes from my office days to consignment shops near me.
And then, they usually didn’t even end up buying any of pre-loved belongings. (In which case, I’d end up either lugging it all back home or dropping it off at a nearby goodwill and earning exactly $0 for my time and energy.)
It was such a hassle, that I decided if I go through the trouble of transporting boxes of stuff somewhere, it’s going to be for donations only. Still, I had a lot of stuff I knew I could earn some extra cash with, so I looked into online consignment options.
What I learned is that you don’t have to search for consignment shops nearby to get rid of all of your stuff and make money on the side. In fact, you usually don’t even have to leave the comfort of your living room.
Consignment Shops Near Me Weren’t Always the Best Deal
So, let’s say you don’t mind packing up and toting all of your stuff to the local consignment shop. In my mind, the work was worth it if I squeezed out a few dollars.
Unfortunately, nearby consignment shops might be a good way to get rid of your stuff and make a couple of dollars, but you probably won’t get as much as you could if you sold your stuff online. Most sites allow you to post pictures of your items, at the price you want, and buyers can either purchase or send you an offer. For this reason, it allows you a better chance of getting the most money for your items.
Further, you usually have the best chances of getting rid of high-dollar, designer stuff at physical consignment shops. Most won’t touch non name brand items. And, in some cases, your only option, is donation or selling for pennies at garage sales, even if they are brand new. On my best days at a physical consignment shop, only a couple of items were returned. However, I still only earned about $10 for everything else. This was definitely not a good use of my time and energy. (Especially considering I drove 30+ miles one way to get there.)
Also, you can’t forget about reachability – your audience and potential buyers. Most consignment shops are limited to the customers who happen to enter the store. Online, you can reach buyers all over the globe.
A Better Option: Online Consignment Shops
I found selling online much easier, more valuable, and a lot less hassle than dealing with the consignment shops near me. While it might vary, the process of selling clothes and other items online are usually similar. For the most part, you’ll need to take a picture of your item and upload to the appropriate site.
You’ll also need to put together a detailed description, including sizes, measurements, colors, and brand. If you aren’t sure of measurements or sizes, you might have to research online to find them or actually measure yourself. Believe me, people will ask you and you’ll need to be able to provide that information if you want to make the sale.
Once your listing is up, you’ll also have options to share with your communities online. Whether you do this or not, is your choice. Most online consignment shops have their own communities and buyers who will likely shop with you anyway.
After you’ve posted your items for sale, you just need to wait for offers. Sometimes, they won’t happen right away, especially if you’re new to the community.
Tips for Successfully Selling Used Stuff Online
So, I’ve tried being lazy and snapping a quick pic and crossing my fingers. However, when it comes to selling online, pictures matter … a lot. Make sure you’re taking the best photo you can. You don’t need any fancy camera equipment. However, you’ll have a better chance of selling your items if you take a picture with a clean background (move the dirty laundry) and good lighting. In fact, some of the apps have filters you can use to make your pictures look better. Just make sure the filter or image isn’t deceiving and changing the quality of the actual item.
Also, when writing your descriptions, try to keep keywords in mind. Many people search for certain items, and you’ll want yours to come up when they do. This also means you need to be extra careful with spelling and typos. If you have a typo in your description, those searching for it might never find it. To get the best descriptions, look for the product online and see what the retailer has listed and write yours up accordingly.
Think outside of the box. For instance, do you have a bunch of no-brand kids clothing? Bundle those together and sell as a package rather than making separate dollar listings. Kids grow out of things so quickly that moms and dads are always looking for bundles of cheap onesies, tee shirts, and pants. Also, make sure you have your stuff ready according to the season. Is it almost winter? Clean up and post all of those winter coats and boots you aren’t using, at least by fall.
Things You Will Need To Sell Online
Luckily, I didn’t need much to get started selling online. I already had a ton of stuff I needed to get rid of.
Although not imperative, using a mobile phone makes selling online super convenient. It’s a good idea to have the app or at least access to your products on your phone. You will want to be able to reply to buyers and accept offers right away. If you wait until you log into your laptop in the evening, you might miss opportunities to make some cash for your used items.
You will also need some supplies – although it shouldn’t require anything complicated. For instance, many times you’ll need access to a printer so you can print out the mailing form (many of which are prepaid). You may also need large mailing envelopes or small boxes. It’s a good idea to keep a couple of them around, so you’re ready when you need to ship something out.
Selling Your Items Online: 5 Things You Should Know
After selling online for a couple of years, I’ve learned a few things. It might be super easy and convenient, but like anything on the Internet, there are some caveats and things you should know.
1. You will need to be flexible. Sure, you can get a lot more for your items online, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always get what you want. Consider how long you’ve had the item for sale and whether you’ve had any offers at all. Further, calculate how much less you’d get if you took it to a brick and mortar resell shop or sold it at a garage sale.
2. Honesty matters. Many online sites let buyers and sellers rate the transactions and leave feedback. It might be tempting to hide a small hole or describe the item as EUC (excellent used condition) when it’s really just halfway decent. However, keep in mind that it could backfire and mean the difference in whether or not a buyer trusts you later. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes – think about the kinds of things that would lead you to leave negative feedback.
3. There is a time commitment. Although it’s more convenient, make sure you’ll have time to package up your sales and get them out in a timely manner. Don’t risk losing because you’ve dragged your feet on a sale and waited three weeks to ship it out. In fact, many sites will cancel the sale if you take too long to reply or mail the item.
4. You can sell more than clothes. This is all fairly convenient for clothing, but what about selling electronics and household items? As you might guess, there are online apps and sites where you can sell nearly anything. In fact, sometimes you’ll sell more on an app that targets those particular types of purchases. For furniture and large items, you can use LetGo or Facebook Marketplace. For electronics, household items, and other small items, you might try an app like Mercari, where you can basically sell anything imaginable.
5. There may be fees/commissions. Although you might earn more using an online consignment shop, it will also cost you. However, most of the time, it isn’t any more than what the consignment shop near you would take as their cut anyway. These fees are usually taken out directly from your sale, so make sure you price accordingly. To give you an idea, here are some of the fees or what it will cost you to sell through some of the top online selling sites.
- Poshmark – Sales under $15, $2.95. Sales $15 or more, the fee is 20%. This includes a pre-paid shipping label.
- eBay – varies but for items up to $50, fees range from 8% to 12%.
- Mercari – flat rate of 10%; you do pay for your shipping label.
- TheRealReal – Receive up to 85% commission.
- ThredUp – Payouts vary; From $14.99 or less you receive about 5% up to items $300 or more you receive as much as 80%.
- LetGo – Currently free.
Is Selling Online Worth It?
For me, the amount of money I’ve made selling my stuff online from my living room versus the cost, time, and trouble to maybe sell something at consignment shops near me has been worth it. For most people, the pros will outweigh the cons. Just make sure you do a little research into the best platform for your items. Then, snap some pics and upload. You’ll be well on your way to clearing out your used stuff and earning some extra cash in no time.
Have you tried any online consignment shops? Which ones were most successful?