3 tips for selling used clothes online, from sellers who have made tens of thousands of dollars

"Vintage shirts sell really well in my closet."

Kaitlin Kao, founder of Kao Closet.
Courtesy Kaitlin Kao

Among the most popular side hustles for U.S. adults is e-commerce. More than a third, 37%, of adults said if they were to add another source of income, it would be selling items online on a site like Etsy, according to a January 2021 survey of 2,006 adults by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

One option: selling used clothes. With the help of online marketplaces like Poshmark, Mercari, eBay, and Etsy, some people have made thousands of dollars selling apparel, often a blend of their old clothes or cheap finds from local thrift stores.

Here are three pieces of advice from sellers who've made tens of thousands of dollars selling secondhand clothing online.

Get a sense of 'what buyers [are] looking for'

In 2013, Keshia Ross turned to Poshmark to get rid of some of her old clothes. She quickly realized "that I could actually make decent money doing this," she previously told Grow. By 2018, Ross decided to go full time with her hustle, selling on not only Poshmark, but Mercari and eBay as well.

Thus far, she's made more than $40,000 through Poshmark sales alone.

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Get to know the platform and tailor products to each site's unique audience, Ross recommends. "I quickly got a feel for what buyers were looking for, and at what price point," she said.

One of her most significant sales was a vintage, sequined Bergdorf Goodman jacket, which she bought for about $10 and sold for $275. She knew it would be the kind of item Poshmark buyers would respond to.

When considering the right selling platform for an item, make sure to consider its fees as well. Poshmark, for example, charges a $2.95 fee for sales under $15. For sales above $15, the fee is 20%.

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'Vintage shirts sell really well'

When her closet got a little too full, Kaitlin Kao started selling her own clothes on Poshmark. "The feeling of making the sale just drove me, and it became addicting," she previously told Grow.

Kao, who's now 21 and who started her Poshmark business in 2016, has made about $31,000 worth of sales so far.

She has found particular success selling vintage apparel, a designation given to items that are at least 20 years old. "I think for sure there is a novelty in selling used clothes," she said. "Vintage shirts sell really well in my [Poshmark page] — not only are they comfortable and trendy, but there's that sense of nostalgia in each shirt and each graphic."

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Have your store reflect your unique style

Like Kao, North Carolina native and college student Aleah Mazyck joined Poshmark to get rid of some old clothes. She opened her Poshmark store on a whim in her freshman year; three years on, she's grossed more than $30,900. She later joined Mercari, where she has brought in more than $10,000.

Mazyck's advice: When you set up your store, make it reflect you and your unique tastes. "My [store] is full of fun and colorful pieces, because that's how I dress all the time," she previously told Grow. This has helped her attract and retain the kind of customer base that really responds to her aesthetic.

"This is definitely not something that's going to stop after I get out of college," she said. "It's too fun to just end that quickly."

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