Whether you’re looking for ways to expand your wardrobe on a budget or cash in on nice clothes you no longer wear, consignment stores can be a solid option.
Most consignment stores offer a broad selection of second-hand casual, business, and evening threads at much lower prices than you’d find in your local department store.
Some even let you “sell” your clothing back to the store in exchange for cash or store credit.
ThredUP is the online equivalent of a traditional consignment store.
Customers who choose to sell through ThredUp can mail in their clothing for cash, and buyers can purchase used clothing for bargain basement prices.
The discounts you’ll find depend on the item you’re buying, the brand, and even the season, but you can count on scoring at least 50 percent off retail — and usually a lot more.
But, is online consignment as convenient and affordable as the in-person version? Depends on who you ask.
While buyers tend to have a positive experience with ThredUp, many sellers who have mailed clothing into ThredUp report they received “pennies on the dollar” for their contributions, and that they could make more money reselling their items themselves.
In this ThredUP review, we’ll talk about how the service works, what it costs, and what to expect as both a buyer and seller.
Is ThredUP worth it? We’ll let you decide.
Related article: Sell your engagement ring online
ThredUp: How it works for sellers
Before we get into the pros and cons of using ThredUP, let’s get down to how it works. For sellers, the process works a lot like a local consignment store resale process. The big difference is, you’ll mail your clothing in instead of hauling into the store yourself. Because really:
ThredUP accepts over 35,000 brands through its resale site, and you can see those brands here.
While there are plenty of off-brands or obscure brands represented, ThredUp also loves to resell big brands like Burberry, 7 For All Mankind, Lululemon, and White House Black Market.
ThredUP says that
“only high-quality items that meet their strict standards will be accepted.”
In other words, items must be new, or like new, and freshly laundered.
When you’re ready to sell, you can use the ThredUP website to order a “Clean Out Kit.” This kit is a bag that you will use to ship all your high quality, unwanted clothing back to ThredUP.
Once you have gathered and laundered all the clothing you believe you will be eligible for resale, you can drop your bag off at the post office or schedule a free residential pickup.
Once ThredUP has received your clothing, you’ll receive an email with details on the payout you can expect and which items they accepted.
For the first 14 days, you can use your payout to purchase items from ThredUP.com.
After that, you can cash out your earnings via Paypal, or a ThredUP prepaid Visa card.
How much will you earn for your clothing? Now, that’s a tricky question.
ThredUP acknowledges that they cannot guarantee earnings, but they also share a handy chart that shows traditional payouts.
Using the chart below, you can see that you might earn 5 – 90 percent of each item’s value depending on the item’s original price and the type of clothing.
The lack of transparency regarding payouts has become a big problem for ThredUp as the company continues to grow.
On the review website SiteJabber, there were 1,279 one-star reviews and paltry payouts are a constant source of complaints.
“This felt like a ripoff. It takes a LONG time for them to process your clothing, and then you get pennies for your things,” said Meg S. in her review.
On March 5, 2018, Liz W. had this to say:
“Eventually ThredUp will have to fold after taking advantage of first-time sellers. I heard about them on a podcast and thought I'd send in clothes. Sent several J. Crew and Banana Republic items still with tags and made $3. Sure, their rules are laid out, but the pay outs are not fair and I will never buy or sell or recommend any friends do the same from here on out. Do not waste your time.”
Another big problem for sellers is the fact that you don’t automatically have items returned to you if ThredUP doesn’t accept them. If you want to ensure you get all your items back, you have to pay $10.99 for “return assurance coverage.”
Without this coverage, ThredUP keeps the clothing they don’t plan to use, citing that it’s too expensive to mail it back to you.
In other words, you could find yourself in a situation where you sent in a bag of clothing only to get nothing in return.
ThredUp says they donate or recycle the clothing, but there’s no way to know for sure.
But, there are other problems with this setup. Imagine you have an expensive, brand name dress you would be happy to sell as long as you got at least $30 or $40. If you couldn’t get that much money for it, you would rather just keep it.
With ThredUp, you would have to mail it in blindly knowing you may not get a penny for it and you will never get it back. You could pay $10.99 for return assurance, but you still wouldn’t know if you’re getting the $30+ you want for the dress until it’s too late.
ThredUp: how it works for buyers
While ThredUp has many negative reviews from unsatisfied sellers, the buying side seems to produce much better results.
Even people who complain about getting ripped off on the sales side admit that there are plenty of deals to be had when you purchase barely-worn brand name clothing through the website.
If you've ever bought clothing on Poshmark.com before, the process is very similar.
Create an account, or log in via social media, then browse clothing by brand or by size until you find the items you want.
The website accepts credit cards for payment, and shipping costs vary but start at $5.99.
At the end of the day, shopping and buying through the website is easy. They also offer frequent discounts for new customers for up to 30 percent off.
Most of ThredUp’s positive reviews come from buyers who received high-quality clothing for prices they found reasonable.
In June of 2017, Kate G. had this to say on SiteJabber:
“I’ve ordered women's and children's clothes eight times and the quality and prices were great. I'm an avid thrift store shopper and the prices are close and most items I have purchased still had the tags on them. I also sent three items in my clean up bag and received $70. I was sure, after reading these other reviews, that I would be shafted but I guess people most likely think their old clothes are in better condition than they really are.”
How to make the most of ThredUp
If you’re hoping to make the most of ThredUP, recent reviews seem to suggest you’ll do a lot better buying second-hand clothes than you will trying to make money off your own.
When it comes to your own clothing, you may be better off selling individual pieces through an online resale site or your neighborhood Facebook group.
Hell, you could even have an old-fashioned garage sale and sell your clothing along with other household items.
On the buy side, however, there are some really awesome deals to be had –— especially if you know the type of clothing you’re interested in and what fits you best.
Recently, I bought several dresses off of ThredUP that were made by a great clothing brand I love, Soma.
While Soma mostly focuses on underwear and pajamas, they also make beautiful, comfortable dresses that fit nearly any body type.
Some of their dresses even have pockets! The dresses I bought on ThredUP were a steal compared to in-store pricing. I know for a fact I have paid over $90 for their long dresses and over $80 for their shorter styles in Soma stores.
When the dresses arrived in the mail, they were truly in “perfect” second-hand condition. They had all been freshly laundered, and they were exactly what I wanted.
With that in mind, it’s my personal opinion that ThredUP is best for buyers who want to score a deal on used clothing and know what they want.
The website may also be perfect for people who purchase children’s clothing and prefer to buy second-hand. Why? Because most kids look good in anything their size, and they may not be as picky about brands or style.
If you want to get rid of your unwanted clothing, on the other hand, you may want to consider donating it to a shelter, the Salvation Army, or to someone who can use it.
If you mail it into ThredUP, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the money you want for your items and you won’t get them back unless you pay an extra $10.99.
Who ThredUP is good for:
- A buyer who knows which brands fit them and which brands are worth the money
- Anyone who wants brand name clothing without the new price tag
- People who don’t mind buying second-hand
Who should skip ThredUP:
- Sellers who want to get a lot of money in exchange for their used clothing
- People who don’t focus on specific clothing brands
- Anyone who doesn’t like buying used
The internet has changed how we do almost everything — and that includes how we shop for clothes.
Where you once had to schlep into a department store or your favorite consignment shop, all your shopping can be done from the comfort of your home these days.
If you like the idea of saving big money on second-hand clothing from the better brands, then ThredUP may be exactly what you’re looking for.
Not only can you save money, but you can shop for the exact brands and sizes you want.
On the selling side, you should definitely consider all your options before you mail clothing into ThredUP.
Your dream of a big payday could be dashed quickly if recent reviews are any indication, and there’s absolutely nothing you could do about it.
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Holly Johnson is a financial expert, award-winning writer, and Indiana mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting and travel. Her personal finance articles have been published in the U. S. News, Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, and Life Hacker. Holly is founder of of the family finance resource, ClubThrifty.com, and is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love. Learn more about Holly here.