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ThredUp Review Part 2: The Art of Selling Second Hand

Written by Julia Eden

Selling To ThredUP May Not Save The World, But It Sure Is Fun

I recently reviewed the buying side of ThredUP’s platform and the pleasurable shopping experience it entailed, which you can check out here if you missed it. But now I’ve advanced to the next step by selling my gear to the secondhand clothing giant. Just like shopping with this company, both online and via their app, buying came with a few caveats, but it also came with some unexpected surprises.

Selling starts with research. There are pages detailing what they will and won’t accept, how much you are likely to receive and how you will receive it, and a handy selling-centric FAQ combining all of the resources you may need to curate a successful Clean Out Bag. I highly recommend you read through it all, especially since most of the negative reviews I’ve encountered seem to come from those who did not research the experience properly first. But before you dive in, let me go through some of the basics, so that you can decide if this is the right kind of swap for you.

Sweet Cash Cash Money

ThredUP is not about making money. Let me repeat that just in case you’re skimming this: ThredUP is not about making money. Prices paid on the site tend to be quite low, though designer pieces are priced quite fairly. For clothing on the cheaper end of the spectrum, you may get less moolah, but that money is paid out in store credit or cash almost immediately. For the higher priced luxe items, a consignment arrangement means you get the payout only when your donation sells. In my recent bag, which was filled to the brim, I had 4 lower-priced pieces selected for about $20 total in credit. After the cost of the bag ($10 without the return guarantee, or $20 if you opt for your rejects to be sent back) I ended up with about $10. However, I also had a pair of pants selected for an additional consignment credit of $30, which will be applied to my account once they sell.

But There’s A Thrift Store Down The Street…So Why Bother?

Rather than using ThredUP as a source of income, it is an excellent alternative to donating your duds to some of the less-than-credible thrift stores (for example, Goodwill is mired in controversy). Since less than 40% of the received clothing makes it onto the site, it is important to know what happens to the rest –

  • Pretty good, but not ThredUP good items go on to 3rd party sellers, most likely other thrift stores and vintage shops.
  • Super not good items go to textile recycling plants where they are either upcycled (into things like rags for industrial use), or recycled (traditionally polyester items, though cotton is gaining traction in recycling).

Fill Your Bag For The Win 

ThredUP very clearly outlines what they expect to come back in their Clean Out Kits, and they aren’t lying. They also aren’t dummies. In an effort to save my dear readers pain and suffering, I filled my own bag with a mix of stuff, some acceptable and some not, just to test their boundaries. Here’s what I learned –

  • When they say “nothing over 5 years old”, they mean it. This is not a vintage seller, and for the most part they seemed to be able to tell the difference. The only exception I slipped through was an amazing pair of ready-to-wear pants from a couture designer. While they are decidedly older than 5 years, they are also in perfect condition, basically never worn, and incredibly unique.
  • You will never receive anything in questionable condition, so don’t bother sending anything in an equally terrible state. I have ordered at least one piece from the site that was listed as “slight pilling”, but upon arrival of said garment, essentially no pilling was to be seen. As a test, several of the items I sent were in, what I would classify as “slight pilling” – the company duly rejected them, and rightly so.
  • They love brand names. And it doesn’t necessarily matter what name that is. There seems to be tons of clothing from store brands such as Target’s Merona, or fast fashion brands like Forever 21 and Old Navy. So it’s worth keeping in mind: we curate this store, so if we send what’s better, then what’s better will be available to buy.
  • If you’re not ready for it to end up shredded, either don’t send it or make sure you buy the return service. Because chances are there will be quite a few pieces you think they will love, that they won’t. I’ll admit it, I’m still a little sad about the $400 Italian wool vest they rejected, but hopefully it is being resold now, just a little further down the line…
  • The bottom line is this: ThredUP is not an excuse to buy more, but it is an excuse to buy better.

To learn more about the process, you can check out their introduction to the Clean Out Kit, featuring options for both selling and donating. The bag is huge so get to your closet and start cleaning!

About the author

Julia Eden

With a passion born in rivers, Julia Eden has spent the last decade crusading for the environment. Educated in fashion design and English Literature, and skilled in dance, she is dedicated to finding the information needed to live a new and better life. While not quite a Luddite, she would very much like to live in a cave with a wolf and an internet connection.

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