When I’m feeling unhappy or bored or out of control, a good clean-out always lifts my spirits. Doesn’t matter what – jewelry box, clothing closet, box of ribbons – seeing everything neatly folded and knowing that I’ve banished some meaningless clutter from my life makes me feel good. This must be the most productive addiction ever, without tipping into full-blown OCD land.
So believe me when I say I’ve got getting rid of stuff down to an art. And when you combine fifteen practice rounds of purging in the last three years alone, with an obsession with all things sustainable, you know that nothing is going in the dumpster.
The question of what to do with old clothes is one I’ve gotten consistently from friends who have just cleaned out their closet. Yes, in a perfect world you would sell everything on eBay, but which New Yorker has the time to package each thing up and bring it to the post office? Not anyone I know. We just want it all gone so we can see the back of our closet again.
I also tried one of the online resale sites, but after sending in so much stuff, only one short sold off their site. I decided to ask for what didn’t sell back, and it all came back individually wrapped in plastic. So I’m sticking to my original method.
Here it is: The definitive guide to selling and donating your clothes in NYC.
Go through all the clothing and pull out items that you think someone would pay money for. The items should be in perfect condition and be of high quality. So no Forever 21! Check for any stains, tears, or scuffs. We will call this the Sellable pile. Sort the remaining clothes into Wearable (not expensive or high quality, but in good shape) and Beyond Saving (torn, stained, stretched).
Decide whether you’re interested in staging a clothing swap with your friends with the Sellable and Wearable items. A clothing swap gives you an excuse to hang out with your girlfriends and get some fresh fashion. However, you will still have some clothing to donate afterward – maybe even more, since your friends brought theirs, too! If you want to get everything out of your apartment pronto, and/or make some money on the nice items you’re no longer enamored of, move on to #3.
Sort the Sellable pile by season. Take any out-of-season items, bag them up, and store them with your other unseasonable clothes. You’ll try to sell them next season, since nobody will take them now.
Nicely fold the in-season Sellable items and put them in a bag to bring to a consignment shop. Where you go next is up to the style and quality of the clothes you are trying to sell. If they are:
- Designer: Michael’s, Fisch for the Hip, What Goes Around Comes Around, or Encore Resale. (Make an appointment for these stores.)
- Preppy or mainstream: A Second Chance.
- Downtown or Brooklyn cool: Buffalo Exchange, Beacon’s Closet, or Crossroads.
The designer places require an appointment and will cut you a check after your items sell. Buffalo Exchange, Beacon’s Closet, and Crossroads take walk-ins, pay you immediately, and will donate anything they don’t take. There will definitely be items that a consignment shop won’t take, so you could also try your luck at other places – it can seem a bit arbitrary at times what they deem cool or cute. I tried this once and the second store took a couple more things.
Find the most convenient donation place for you. You can technically arrange for a pick-up from Salvation Army or Veterans of American, but they are both notoriously unreliable and frustrating, so you’re probably better off hauling everything in a cab to your destination. Here are some places where you can drop off Wearable clothes (to be resold) and Beyond Saving clothes (to be recycled).
- H&M – Receive one coupon per bag off your next H&M.
- Levi’s – Receive a voucher for 20% off a single, regular-priced Levi’s item in-store.
- Goodwill or Salvation Army – Get a donation receipt, which is only useful if you itemize your taxes.
- Farmer’s Market – Receive good karma. Find locations and times here.
And that’s it! Everything is out of your apartment, you’ve made a bit of money, and you’ve get items out of the landfill, with minimal frustration. No go enjoy your organized closet!