You know that feeling when you walk into a room and someone gives your outfit the once over; there are women skilled at casting an eye from head to toe in a nanosecond without so much as tilting their head. I have a relative with that skill. It’s irksome.
Well, you can get that very same feeling in stores all over the city, as I did this week when I set out to sell some long neglected pieces of clothing. For anyone not familiar with the concept, there are stores staffed with skinny, twenty-something hipsters that will pick over your gently-worn clothes, trawling for current styles or hot labels.
For what they deign to keep, the seller gets a percentage of the price tag they will resell it at, or can take a bigger percentage in credit to spend in the store. For instance, Beacon’s Closet, with locations in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Park Slope, will pay exactly 35% cash, or 55% store credit, of the price tag that they in turn put on your clothes and accessories. Unlike a consignment shop, where you have to wait for your items to be sold, stores like Beacon’s give you cash or a credit voucher on the spot. It’s a great way, albeit potentially demoralizing, to get something back for clothes that you don’t wear anymore, but are that little bit too good for the donation bin.
Beacon’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange are the two where I have tried my luck in the past. And that’s where I traipsed this week, bulging bag in hand. Like many things in fashion, it’s a lottery. I’ve sold armloads of H&M and Forever 21 tees and tunics, while Dolce & Gabbana dresses and even up-and-coming Asian designers were rejected at the same time. It’s a crap shoot to predict what they are looking for on any given day.
So I hit Buffalo Exchange in the East Village first. They were pretty full-up, the girl said, but after some back and forth they decided on a Clu jersey and cotton bubble dress, which I had actually bought a couple of seasons earlier at rival store. The staff at Buffalo Exchange are friendly and pleasant. Even when the girl rips through your fashion history in seconds, she does so nicely.
Which takes me to my next stop, Beacon’s Closet on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope. I have a love-hate relationship with this place. As annoyed as I am most times I sell things there, I keep going back. I feel like I almost have their formula down; there is certain “look” in everything they accept and then resell, and it’s generally not a look I dabble in. This particular day I did well though, selling a Tim O’Connor halter neck top with ruffles down the front, a very 80s black Betsey Johnson tiered skirt, a sequined skirt I bought a decade ago and never wore and a nude leather pencil skirt by the Australian brand David Lawrence. Curiously, both stores rejected a Paul and Joe silk slip dress. That one’s too good for the scrap heap and came home with me.
So, was it worth the schlepping a bag on the subway and enduring the judgments of girls barely beyond their teens? Sure. And what’s more, I didn’t feel bad acquiring a couple of new things with the earnings. A blue and white striped knit blazer-style cardigan from A.Cheng in Park Slope and the Kenneth Jay Lane diamante embellished leather cuff from Outnet, which I have had my eye on for ages.
Outnet, by the way, is offering free shipping though May 19 to everyone who signed up for their $1 sale, as a way of apologizing for the craziness of the online birthday fiasco.
Now, my drawers are tidy. I have a couple of new pieces and my wallet is a little better padded. Not bad for a week’s work.