I have always been interested in ways to make money unconventionally, on the go, and without a “job.”
So, I’m continuing a series of posts here on the blog about creative ways to turn a buck while traveling–all requiring little to no experience and approachable from Day 1!
There are secondhand stores out there (the ones I mention here are located quite broadly throughout the U.S.) that will buy your clothing/shoes/gear and pay you cash today. I’ll lay out which items each one takes and why, what kind of money you can expect, and how you can use these chains to your advantage as you travel the country.
Plato’s Closet exists in nearly every state–and focuses on buying clothing that is suitable for teens-20 somethings. This is a franchised business model, like nearly every kind of resale shop, which means each location will differ slightly on what they take from you, and thus pay you for.
One of the first things to understand about Plato’s Closet is their target market. Teens-20 somethings – both girls and guys clothing and shoes. They say they only take clothing sold within retail stores in the last 18 months, but really they will consider anything if you present it properly. Do not include clothes in your buy that have any rips, tears, or stains. This diminishes the appearance of the entire lot and influences whether the person looking through your clothes thinks this is a valuable lot.
Step for Success
Fold all the clothing neatly in a nice reusable bag or basket
Put well-known labels/brands toward the top of the pile
Include only clothing, shoes, and basic accessories (jewelry/fashion backpacks, etc)
Do not include career wear, designer brands, or anything that has a target market of age 40 and up
Do not include vintage items or items without brand tags
Do not include “Walmart” clothing brands
See if the individual location is selling teamwear for the local college or sports teams – if they are, include only LOCAL teamwear in your buy
One of the best paying options for secondhand clothing! Unfortunately the pandemic hit Crossroads hard, a lot of locations closed or severely reduced their hours and buying volumes. In years past and hopefully years to come this chain is a great resource.
Found in chic urban centers, these locations can be a bit hard to get to, sometimes near paid parking areas, but are well worth a walk down the block with a bag of your nicest clothing finds. A good return on two bags of clothing here could easily be around $100.
Steps for success
Select high quality clothes – they pay well for high end brands like North Face, Patagonia, Doc Martens and more
Fold and present nicely – always do this at every store!
Jackets/coats fetch a good price
They offer a much better deal in store credit – you get 30% cash or 40% store credit.
Buffalo Exchange has been around for years, but has taken a hit recently throughout the pandemic and also a controversy surrounding the owners of their Colorado stores. The chain no longer exists in Colorado, but still maintains trendy locations on the west coast, south, and some scattered locations all throughout the U.S. Just google map it if you aren’t sure if you have one close by.
Here the name of the game is odd, vintage, and flamboyant.
Steps for success
Select vintage pieces – coats, leather coats, costumes, blouses, blazers – anything is game if it fits within the bizarre hipster/bohemian vibe of Buffalo Exchange.
Be prepared for some buys to go extraordinarily well and others to be a complete bust.
Stay in store while they look at your items – this is a requirement and can get very tiresome if there is a long line of buys in front of you. Best to go at off times if possible.
This one is an easier sell, but the dollar amount you receive will be lower, on line with Plato’s Closet or a little less per item.
The big positive is how lenient they are with what they take. This is the place to take more basic streetwear. Nike, Adidas, that kind of stuff does well here–even if it is a little older or rougher around the edges than the other establishments on this list would take.
These stores are scattered more sparsely throughout the country. There are quite a few in Utah and Texas. The vibe here is very much more casual and “basic.”
Steps for success
Put forth your casual classics – hoodies, zip hoodies, T-Shirts Nike/Adidas/American Eagle type brands
Runway Fashion Exchange
Not so common chain, but often found in outdoorsy college towns like Flagstaff or Missoula. I’ve been to a lot of these in Montana and they are one of Montana’s only options for this kind of resale chain.
Similar to Uptown Cheapskate or Plato’s closet, this is another teen and college aged market for inexpensive yet trendy secondhand “mall” clothes and shoes.
Steps for success
Similar kinds of clothing as Uptown Cheapskate or Plato’s Closet
So, there’s five popular resale clothing chains you can find all over the country, no matter which corner you travel to! It may take a few buys to get the hang of what each store will buy, and of course each chain also varies in selection by location/state/region, but in no time you’ll likely be making some money from unwanted clothes and shoes.
So how do you get clothing to sell?
Well, the first place is obvious. Try thinning out your closet and selling a few things. You’ll begin to see how much value is assigned to certain brands or styles.
If you are ready to move beyond that and want to use these methods for profit, start by looking at garage sales for brands that have sold well in your trial runs visiting these chains. Always make sure there are no stains, rips, fading, or pilling on clothing you buy to resell. It’s a good idea not to pay much more than $1 per item if your intent is to add to a lot to resell at one of these chains.
Thrift stores often offer discount days where clothes are $1 or even just 25 cents! Ask around as you visit thrift stores if they have any special deal days/sales upcoming. Also search the special color deals at thrift stores that are 50% off.
Free “piles” also can be found. Especially when you are in a wealthy area, people will post large clothing giveaways on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. If you become very observant and open to manifesting, you can happen upon these piles when just driving around as well. A great time to check on CL in the free section is between 12-2 pm on Saturdays, when people have just finished their garage sale. They will often just put it all up for free to spare themselves the effort of packing it up and taking it to Goodwill to donate.
Once you have a feel for what clothing has value, you will likely only use chain resale stores to clear out your own personal wardrobe or things that aren’t selling online in marketplaces like Poshmark or Depop. Though there are people out there who move such volume that resale shops can be an integral income stream. Definitely fits with the nomadic life–if you have enough storage space in your rig and get really great at turnover.
Next up in the clothing department on the blog will be an article on how/where to sell online for premium prices and more unconventional ways to get top dollar for your clothing in person! Stay tuned!