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Adventures in Buying Used Clothes and Trading Clothes

As a big fan of buying used clothes, and currently tasked with purchasing a whole new spring/summer wardrobe, I have been spending a lot of time shopping lately. Buying used clothes is a great for those who are either on a smaller budget or working on debt management. I started out my mission by purchasing some spring and summer basics such as dresses, sandals, and tanks in plain colors and prints so I could get the most use of them. However, sick of stripes and solids I headed to my local Buffalo Exchange yesterday to see what I could find. (Buffalo Exchange is a retailer with locations across the U.S. where clothing is bought, sold and traded locally with store customers.)

Follow ACCC's tips for buying used clothes

Follow ACCC’s tips for buying used clothes.

Before going to Buffalo Exchange, I made a quick pit stop in my closet to see what I could bring to sell/trade. Usually, I keep a bag of things that can either be sold or donated at the bottom of my closet. I grabbed this bag and quickly surveyed what I had and set off. I followed these tips that I’ve found useful to get the most value out of buying used clothes:

  • Do your research and know your store. The stores typically buy for the current and upcoming season, but many times they are overstocked on certain items and really low on others. Give them a call before you go to get an idea of what specifically they are looking for. For example, I assumed for the spring and summer seasons, dresses would be in demand. However, they were overstocked and were actually looking for some more casual t-shirts with fun prints. Also, take into account the location of the store. For example, if it is in a trendier neighborhood there might be certain items they are more likely to buy. If you have time, visit the store beforehand to get a better idea of what they sell and what you have to offer that is comparable.
  • Sort through your items before bringing them to the store. If you are like me, you just have a general bag of things you no longer where anymore or are simply worn out. Be sure to sort through it and weed out the more worn items beforehand and consider donating them. Also, keep in mind all items should be washed, without stains, and not damaged.
  • Don’t forget the accessories! I have had success in trading in dozens of old necklaces, bracelets and earrings and I’m not talking diamonds. Costume jewelry will do and your trade value will quickly add up. Also, don’t forget things like purses, wallets, scarves, tech cases, sunglasses, etc.
  • The label is not the deciding factor, style is. Many people think that because they have a Coach handbag that stores will take it immediately. However, this is not true. Style, including the look and cut, is more important to the stores when it comes to deciding what to buy.
  • Dress nice. This might sound ridiculous, but it seems the buyers are more likely to take back your items if it seems you have a sense of style because they can put more trust in the fact that the item is fashionable and will sell.

As the buyer sifts through your items, she will set a price for each item she will take. This is the retail price the item will be sold for in the store. At the end, you can chose to receive a trade value (store credit) of 50% of your total retail value or take the cash for 30% of the retail value. On only one occasion have I found it worth it to take the cash.

On this trip, I ended up trading a fair amount of what I brought in including: three dresses, two t-shirts, a pair of jeans, a cross-body bag, a pair of earrings, and two necklaces for a trade value of $68. Using my trade card, I purchased two light sweaters, a dress, a pair of shorts, a scarf, a necklace, and a pair of earrings, and still have $8 leftover on my trade card. Buying used clothes is a process, but worth it if you have a strategy.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

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