I read about ThredUP a few months ago, and the concept bounced around in my mind for a while because the idea of sending my unwanted clothing to a company to resell was something that didn’t occur to me. Yes, I’ve thought a lot about how to get rid of my more expensive purchases, but I usually just put clothes in a bag and take them to Goodwill or have it picked up by Volunteers of America. I feel like I am contributing to my own community when I do that, but ThredUP represents another approach that is also worth considering.
In case you’ve never heard of them, ThredUP is a website that sells secondhand clothing. If you’d like to sell your clothing to them they will send you a free bag to fill with your unwanted clothing and will then sell what you ship on their website. They will only keep what they think will sell, and recycle the rest, giving you some money in the process. Having gone through the process myself, here’s how it worked for me and I’ll share some caveats in case you choose a smililar route.
Getting Started & Why I Used ThredUp
I ordered a Clean Out Kit by filling up some information online, which included the basics such as what I’ll be sending, the condition the clothes are in, and what I’d like done with the clothes they won’t accept. That is the most interesting aspect of ThredUp, actually, and the reason I ultimately decided to use the service. You have two options to choose from when it comes to clothing that you might send that do not meet their quality standards (turns out they “typically accept less than 40% of the clothing [they] receive”).
The first option is asking them to ship any items they don’t accept back to you. Personally, I think this is an option that might work for you if you are interested in somehow making money off of what they don’t sell. After all, donation of clothes to charitable organization is deductible on your taxes so even if you don’t end up selling your unwanted clothes yourself you might still benefit financially from discarding them.
If you don’t want them back then Thredup will either sell your clothes to a third party (undisclosed who this third party might be as far as I can tell), or they will “pass on” your clothing to a third party that recycles the clothing. Now, why would you want to have your donated clothes sold without you benefiting financially from it? Well, according to Thredup:
“The proceeds we recoup through this process help us cover some (but not all) of the shipping and labor costs incurred for the unaccepted items we receive.”
I think this is a claim that you and I have to accept at face value, and being the trusting person that I am I believe they are telling the truth, because after all I haven’t read anything to the contrary. The reason I actually ended up sending my clothes to them was exactly because they will deal with clothes they don’t want in a responsible manner such as by having them recycled/upcycled. I’ve long wondered what happen to items that I have donated in not-so-great shape or when so many of us decide to discard lots and lots of items all at once. I feel so much better knowing that my unwanted clothes aren’t ending up in a landfill.
Before I received their rather large plastic envelope in the mail to fill up, I looked up whether they would accept the items I was about send and what sort of payout I may receive (more on that later). Having done that, I packed about 7-10 shirts and tank tops, and sent them on their way.
What Happened Next
Interestingly, nothing much happened for about 6 week. About a week or so after I sent my kit I got an email stating it was received, and that it would be processed about 3 weeks afterwards. About two weeks after that date I got an email saying they only accepted two items and responsibly recycled the rest. Overall, this ended up being quite the lengthy process but I didn’t care too much about that since… well, that was kinda the point. “Send and forget it” was actually my plan.
My payout for the two shirts? $3.50. If you are wondering what shirts I sent, you can see the first one here, and the second one here. I owned both shirts for about two years and actually used them quite a bit, but like all Poly shirts they maintained their shape extremely well.
Ah, the Payout
So, now let’s talk about money. When I send my more expensive items to be consigned (currently I have a pair of Jimmy Choo wedges that I loved but wasn’t wearing being sold at The Real Real) I do expect to earn some money that I can use to buy other things. While I don’t see clothes as investments, I do want my shoes and accessories to have some resale value. So certainly, I do want to make sure I earn money back from the sale of my shoes and accessories and will use a service that provides that.
I knew that my Loft shirt won’t have much resale value, so sending it to ThredUp worked for me, even thought it was a little weird getting $3.50 for them. My point here is that it might be prudent not to expect to make much money off of what you send. This may or may not work for you, so this is certainly something to keep in mind.
Interestingly, you can look at what you are likely to earn based on the selling price they determined by looking here. The gist of it is that if they decide to sell an item at less than $60 you get money upfront and can expect to earn about 5% – 40% of it. Everything above it is considered to be consigned, and then earns you more money (50%-80%).
As I understand, but have yet to experience, you can use the money you earn to shop on their website or you have it sent to your Paypal account (or prepaid Visa card) after 14 days. I have yet to buy anything from ThredUp, and I am not sure whether I will or not. I know some bloggers out there have (Reading My Tea Leaves and Style-Wise), but I struggle with the concept of buying clothes from some of they brands they have there. That is, my goal has been to buy quality items that are likely to last a long long while. I don’t trust that some of the brands they have there are making such clothes.
That’s not to say all the brands there aren’t worth taking a look at. I have been eyeing their Eileen Fisher, Rag & Bone, J Brand, Paige, Alice + Olivia offerings, but haven’t seen anything I really like in a condition I think will work for me just yet.
Would I use this service again? I actually don’t know, and it’s not because of this experience. Really, what I wanted to see happen actually did happen: clothing that weren’t deemed sellable were discarded responsibly. True, I made little money off this transaction and it took quite a while, but those weren’t things that mattered to me.
So why do I think I won’t use them again? Honestly, now that I shop with brands that make clothing that seem to be higher quality and now that I don’t have that many items to begin with… I don’t think I need this kind of service anymore. This seems perfect for those of us in the process of getting rid of a lot of clothing at once, and I am sure I would have liked to know about it when I discarded so many items about a year and a half ago!
There’s certainly peace of mind in knowing your old unwanted items aren’t ending up adding pollution to our environment, but then on the other hand I like the idea of my better items benefiting charities rather than businesses (though I can certainly donate that $3.5o to charity myself!). Either way, I hope this post helps you choose the best approach when moving towards the wardrobe you have in mind.