Do Thrift Stores Buy Clothes?
- by Reba Collins
There are so many extra clothes in this world that most people, at some point, feel they need to lighten their load and get rid of some. Our closets get full of items we no longer wear for various reasons, whether they are out of fashion or they no longer fit. When deciding where to take them you might wonder if there’s a thrift store that would buy them from you.
Thrift stores normally do NOT buy the clothes they sell, instead they accept donations. Most thrift stores are considered “non-profit” and run by charities or churches. These organizations use their profit to benefit the needy. However, there are many second hand “for-profit” stores that do pay for current, up-to-date, clothing.
If you are looking to sell your used clothing, there are several things you can do. First, check the websites of the places that accept secondhand clothing. There you will find information about whether they accept donations or if they will buy your items.
Thrift Stores That Do Not Pay for Used Clothing
Goodwill Industries and Salvation Army do not pay for donations. The money they make goes to help the community. Goodwill Industries provides jobs and job training opportunities. Salvation Army is a Christian faith-based organization that helps wherever help is needed by providing disaster relief, food pantries, homeless shelters, job training, and numerous other services.
Other thrift stores include those run by local churches and non-profit organizations. Many times, you will find the organization’s mission statement on their website. For example, in Fort Bend County in the state of Texas, there is Pennywise Fort Bend Women’s Center. Their stores help fund survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in the greater Houston area.
Organizations like these accept donations of any kind including clothing, furniture, household items and more. If you decide to donate your used clothes, consider what type of organization you prefer to support.
Secondhand Stores that DO Pay for Used Clothing
The stores that pay for used clothing are not usually referred to as thrift stores, most reserve that moniker for non-profit stores. The stores that pay for used clothing are normally referred to as secondhand stores.
There are some secondhand stores that are national franchises, where the owners use the nationally known name but the stores are owned locally. The companies that own these franchises can own one store or many. And then there are independently owned secondhand stores that are not franchises but owned wholly by one company. At least one of these companies is national but I’m sure there are a lot of smaller ones found locally.
Here’s a short list of nationally known secondhand stores that pay to take your used clothing from you:
Plato’s Closet – a franchised retail store that pays for current up-to-date clothing. These stores cater to teen and twenty-somethings with high-quality, gently used fashion. Payouts are decent but the clothing needs to be fairly new to be accepted.
Style Encore – these stores are franchised by the same company that franchises Plato’s Closet but they cater to an older demographic. Where Plato’s is teens and twenty-somethings, Style Encore is for 30+ women offering excellent condition, higher quality, timeless clothing. I’ve never shopped at Style Encore but I imagine it’s a lot like Plato’s or Once Upon a Child.
Once Upon a Child – these stores are franchised by the same company that franchises Plato’s Closet but they cater to people buying children’s clothing. Again, the payouts are decent, but the clothing needs to be fairly new to be accepted. My daughter shops at these stores and I joined her the last time she went. The racks were packed so tight it was hard to shop. She took in 3 laundry baskets of clothes to sell and got $130. But they accepted less than half the items she brought in so she took the rest home and said she would take those items to another location.
Buffalo Exchange – these stores have been around for almost 50 years and are owned by a mother-daughter team. They have 40 stores throughout the U.S. I have never shopped at Buffalo Exchange, but they work like the other secondhand stores. Bring in the items you want to sell, they pay 25% of the price they will sell for in the store or 50% in a trade card. Clothes need to be in excellent condition, they keep the items they want, and send the rest home.
Uptown Cheapskate – a franchised retail store that pays for current up-to-date clothing. They have over 100 stores throughout the U.S. They pay similar to Plato’s Closet and give you 25% more if you take it in a trade card.
Consignment Stores – consignment stores allow you to give them your items and they pay you a portion of the selling price after the item sells. They will inventory your items so they know who owns what and when the items arrived. They then put the items on the sales floor. Most consignment stores discount the items weekly until they sell and only hold on to items for a pre-determined length of time. If your items don’t sell, you can designate whether the store should call you for pick-up or just donate the items.
Other Ways to Sell Secondhand Clothing
Garage or Yard Sale – Having a garage or yard sale is a great way to sell your old clothes. Most people go ahead and clear out more than just clothing so people who come have other things to buy. You can’t expect to get high prices for your used clothing at a garage sale, but it is a way to get it out of your house. And you can always try the places above for the items that don’t sell.
ThredUp – ThredUp is an online secondhand clothing reseller. Just like a brick-and-mortar consignment shop, they pay you for your clothes IF they sell. Basically, you get a percentage of what it sells for, and the percentage is lower for lower priced items. For this reason, it’s best to send your better brands to ThredUp.
They make it easy, you send the items to ThredUp, they photo and list. They even send you a bag to send the items in. you just drop at Fedex or UPS and you don’t have to pay shipping. You can find a list on their website of which brands they accept. I tried selling some items on ThredUp once and did sell quite a few pieces but I sent them a lot. If you want the items back that don’t sell, you will have to pay the return shipping cost. You can find all the details on how it works at their website ThredUp.com.
Poshmark, Ebay or Mercari – I’m very familiar with these platforms as we sell on all three. With these platforms you keep the clothing until it sells. Poshmark and Mercari will create shipping labels for you and both make it super simple to get started.
Ebay is a little more like running your own business where you need to know a little more about shipping. There are lots of resources online and in Facebook groups to help you get started should you choose to go this route.
TheRealReal.com – TheRealReal sells high end and luxury brands only and like ThredUp, you send the items to them, they photograph and list, then when it sells you get a commission. They have a commission list on their website, it seems you can earn some nice money on the more expensive items. As the price goes down, so does the commission. Since I’ve never sold with TheRealReal I don’t know what happens to the items if they don’t sell and I couldn’t find it on their website.
I feel certain there are a ton other places to sell your used clothing, but this article should give you a good start with lots of options. Thinking into the future, I’m considering writing an ebook or setting up a video course on how to sell on Poshmark, Ebay and Mercari. If you have any interest in learning how to sell on these platforms, let me know in the comments section below. It’s always nice to know if people would have interest in a product you want to create.