My First Time (selling clothes in LA)
After putting this off every day for years I've FINALLY completed my closet clean out (pause for applause, thank you). It was a massive purge that required a lot of self-reflection with me ultimately letting go of all the college going-out clothes I'm too old for and the jeans I've been saving for 10 years that I think I'm going to fit again (I'm not going to, but that's ok and I'm ok with that now, who am I trying to convince here, me or you?). May they find new homes where they can be cherished treasure instead of just a visual representation of failed diets, the relentlessness of time, and impending closet clean out doom.
And I have no doubt that they will be cherished. Quick aside - one of my mom's friends gave me some frankly random old shoes of hers, literally in shambles, with some chain detailing along the edges falling off - she told me to just toss them if I didn't want them. And for some reason I LOVE these shoes. They just fit really well, super comfortable, and go with everything - one man's trash is truly another's treasure! I tried to glue gun the chain edge back on which was really messy (and I wore them out like this) but recently, I finally just pulled off the edge all together which is still really messy but I love them. Here, I'll attach a picture after this whole essay but it's a reward at the end so you have to read the whole thing.
Anyway, my goal is that someone else might find their very own trash shoes to love and cherish. And hopefully Beni can help them in that endeavor. (Obviously a Beni plug, I mean this is the Beni blog).
So, here we go into a stream of consciousness play by play of what it's like to sell in LA, because Beni would be nothing without resale, so don't let perfectly good trash treasure waste away in your closet!
After this selling experience I truly feel like a secondhand selling veteran so I'll run you through my three main successful avenues: The RealReal, Crossroads Trading Co, personal selling, and my three main fails: Decades, Wasteland, and Buffalo Exchange.
So, The RealReal is a Beni partner (wooh!). They quickly went through everything, checking each label in their list of allowed designers, which is definitely something I could have done myself beforehand rather than waste their time, but they have to do it anyway and also the list is ever changing so if you're unsure, better to just bring it in and check. While they don't care if shoes are in their original box, buyers like it and are less likely to return the item if they have a box so try to bring the original packaging it if you have it. You don't want customers to return the items because then you get unpaid and the item gets wear and tear from the shipping, also all that shipping is bad for the environment, you get it.
Overall it was a lovely experience, they gave me free boxed water, and they didn't make fun of me for all the items that were just obviously going to be rejected. As a seller, you start out getting a 55% commission for everything you sell (you don't get paid until the item sells and if it's returned, you get un-paid), and then as you gain legitimacy your commission goes up, capping at 85%. At this time, they were running a promotion for branded luxury jewelry and offering a 75% commission. The only downside about The RealReal is that they set the prices (a few weeks after you drop your stuff off), so you can bring them your fanciest Giambattista Valli boots you got for 3k, and they can randomly price them at $100 and you end up with $55. But in general, they do a pretty solid job pricing and if you have a serious problem with the price you can have them ship it back to you (but again, more wear and tear). After all my secondhand adventures, TRR has truly been the best experience.
Crossroads Trading Co.
Next up, Crossroads! First thing with regard to Crossroads, download the app and reserve your spot in line/check how long the waiting list to sell is before you get there. Rookie mistake, I didn't know they had an app so we showed up with 6 bags and a 5 person wait ahead of us. We went to the Crossroads on Melrose - it's honestly really cool. From a shopping standpoint, I feel like there's really nice stuff for good prices, a lot of Zara, online retailers like PrettyLittleThing, FashionNova etc. but also some great high end brands like Saint Laurent & Tamara Mellon. If you want to buy fast fashion stuff, this is definitely the best place to do it cause you can see the quality in person and feel good that you're giving it a second life. When it was our turn, we definitely were surprised by what they passed on and what they decided to buy. The buyer kind of priced everything in the $16-42 range what seemed like indiscriminately to us. For example she priced a pair of $400 unworn (stickers still on) strappy heels that Kim K used to wear and a pair of burning-man-super-worn really weird yellow 2006 high top sneakers both for $32. How Crossroads does things - you can choose to take your earnings as 50% store credit (so to buy stuff there) or 30% cash. We ended up taking store credit and getting a pair of $300 Saint Laurent checkered heels - they were still in the box, had authentication tags and were super lightly worn, retail I think $1200. So overall win!
Crossroads is great because you get to see everything priced right in front of you, pull what you don't want to sell (or even discuss it with them if you were hoping for a higher price) and then you get paid on the spot. Though beware of falling into how easy it is to end up spending your credit and then some. I've now done 3 Crossroads trips and each time I end up spending beyond my credit. (Also if you were intrigued by those aforementioned Kim K heels, I ended up pulling them and still have them if you're interested... I'm a 7.5)
So far, while being semi-successful, this has been the hardest avenue. It's just so much work and you really have to market your products yourself. It definitely helps if you have a social media presence, which I don't, but thankfully my sister kind of does. Through her TikTok, we've been able to sell a few things, but frankly it's so much effort I think we'll end up packing it all up and shipping it to thredUP (who will handle everything for you and donate anything they don't take). Right now, she's actually beta-testing a friend's company where they set up ______'s Closet Shopify sites for influencers, which I think is a really good option for bigger influencers, but unfortunately my sister just does not have the reach to really get things sold. On the upside though, if you are able to sell things yourself, that's definitely how you make the most money on your sales.
Decades was our first fail. As resale rookies, we had no idea what we were getting into - Decades has a rep for only having super fancy stuff, so we brought in two vintage gowns, Vera Wang and Carolyne Roehm, of my mom's, and some other nice boots and a Mugler dress. The atmosphere was very Devil Wears Prada vibes and I felt immediately embarrassed at having parked my super beat up 2010 Prius right outside the glass front door. However, despite the atmosphere, the sales associate was still very kind to me as he informed me that they weren't currently accepting anything black as they have too much black clothing right now, and that although he loves "Carolyne", they don't take it. So 0 for 4 at Decades.
So I've tried Wasteland twice now and every time (well twice) it feels like I'm in a comedy sketch. They literally take out every single item, thoroughly look at them, fold and sort them into all these piles that seem to have some meaning, then put one pile back into the bag (ok, clearly the rejects pile, makes sense) then after making all these other piles of some apparent system, they pick up one pile, hug it like they're about to take it to go price, and then stick it back into the bag and say, "Sorry, we won't be taking anything at this time." Like what? What a trip. Anyway, they never really seem to have a wait which I appreciate at least. They just reject you weird and fast!
If you're going to come here, I'd definitely recommend calling ahead to try to get an appointment because they seem to always have a pretty long wait. They take very random things and price very low, but on the upside, they sell really low too, so good for shopping! I brought in probably 60 great items (sure I'm biased, but Crossroads ended up taking most of them so they really must have been decent!) and of those 60, Buffalo took 2. And priced me at like $8. But in the really long wait leading up to that I fell in love with some dress, so I ended up using the credit and spending a little extra.
All in all, it was a good experience, albeit hard. I feel like going forward I'll probably try to buy higher-end, better quality 'name brand' items when I'm shopping cause they're easier to ultimately sell when we've run our course. My ideal situation would be to have a closet clean out where I can bring everything to The RealReal and then anything they don't take bring to Crossroads and then ship the remaining to thredUP, though in reality I still have very little exposure to the resale selling world, so I'll keep trying new things and report back! I imagine I'll probably find myself going back for more rejection from Wasteland cause I'm addicted to the pain and at this point I'm so curious what the item they ultimately take will be.
Thanks for going through this journey with me and, as promised, here's a picture of my beloved trash shoes: