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Out With the Old, In With the New:
Buying, Selling and Trading Clothes on The Digital Sales Rack
By Kate Kliner

Resale and consignment shops are industry staples for recycling clothing. They're a great way to let go of pieces that don't fit, have gone out of style or just never felt quite you. These shops connect your clothing with a new owner, while providing some cash (and closet space) for new items you'll really love and wear.

But, in order to sell you must bundle everything up and take it to the store, and wait for an associate to assess your items. They can be picky and may even refuse designer brands. Often, they'll only take one or two pieces that are in season and you can either donate the rest or lug it all back home, perhaps offering your leftovers to friends. Most shops offer cash or in-store credit, but you'll get a fraction of what you originally paid. In addition, at consignment stores you may have to wait months for a high-priced item to sell and to receive your cut of the profit.

Out With the Old, In With the New

Given we're in the midst of the "there's an app for that" era, it's no surprise that sellers have become savvy to many online entities (mostly all with a handy companion app) offering a streamlined way to recycle clothing and accessories. Rather than taking your clothes to a shop, one type of digital avenue lets you simply send in a bag of clothes, often using a pre-paid shipping label.

One such option is ThredUP?, which has an iOS/Android app. They send you a clean-out bag and you send it back free of charge, filled with the items you're looking to sell. As a seller, it's convenient not to worry about the details of each sale and you'll receive 80 percent of the resale price. Users don't sell directly to each other, so this is basically a digital consignment store. ThredUP buys from users and resells to their community. They even have a section for kids and baby clothes.

There are many online boutiques dedicated to buying and selling designer items, and the RealReal is one solid option, offering a free iOS/Android app. Their tagline is "Authenticated Luxury Consignment," and true to form they authenticate each item before sending it out. Sellers pocket up to 70 percent of the sale price. Or, if you're a buyer seeking deeply discounted designer items, this is your spot.

If your style is a bit more quirky, you may want to check out Refashioner (no app for this one). This one is great for scouting unique and/or vintage pieces, and is a good place to turn if you have some niche items that may not sell on a more mainstream-oriented digital marketplace.

I don't like to play favorites, but I'm partial to Poshmark (I use the free iOS app but there's an Android-friendly one too) because of the freedom I have to curate my own digital closet, taking photos and naming my own prices. When a friend told me about the app she said, "it's like Instagram for your clothes," but I didn't really get it until I saw the feed, virtual closets of my friends, and got some "likes" and comments on my posted items - all right there in the palm of my hand.

The main draw is that this platform is socially-oriented. You can "follow" other women's closets who have a similar size or style to your own. You can also receive party invites for certain styles or designers. One thing I do enjoy about selling in-person is the opportunity for social interaction, so I appreciate the fact that Poshmark seeks to recreate some of this in a digital way. Even if you're just checking out someone's inventory or discussing an item, it makes the process fun and promotes a feeling of community.

While Poshmark allows greater control and freedom than some other options, many people may not have the time to create listings and engage in dialog with buyers about their items - so of course, some people prefer the convenience of shipping a whole bag of items and having the digital entity take over from there. Each online store takes a percentage of the sale price, but it's often less than at a real-life resale or consignment shop.

These online marketplaces are just a handful of what's available, and there are many more. Each is unique and caters to a different type of look, market, and demographic. Depending on what you're selling and how much time you want to put into the whole process, you may find that one works better for you than another. It's all based on personal preference and selling style. To ensure you'll get top dollar for your items, an essential part of the selling process is making sure your clothes are clean and presentable. You'll want your items to be in pristine condition for their new owner, because no one wants to open their care package to find they've just bought a coffee-stained blouse or pants with a rip in them. Consider replacing any missing buttons, or taking any dry clean only items to your favorite cleaners (yes, that's Orth!) in order to score the highest possible sales price. With a little TLC, your items can be in almost-new condition.

Selling in person still has its advantages, but the digital option for buying, trading, and selling offers new opportunities to create your dream wardrobe on a budget or to make a little extra cash. These online marketplaces certainly simplify the process of updating your closet, since they eliminate the need to drag your items to a physical store. Taking all this into consideration, there's never been a better time to get out there and recycle clothing, whether you're doing it the traditional way with resale or consignment shops or using a website or app.

Happy selling!

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Stinky Shoes
Stinky Shoes?

If you have a favorite pair of shoes or boots, chances are they may acquire a certain scent after repeated wearing. There are many ways you can clean them but try this easy and inexpensive way to freshen them up: put a generous amount of baking soda on the insole of each shoe or boot. Place them in a plastic bag and then put them in your freezer overnight. After that, just dump the powder into the garbage and your footwear should be smelling better. If you can't get the smell out, feel free to have our experts take over. Arrange for a free pickup and delivery from one of our friendly drivers.

- Kate Kliner

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