eBay vs. Consignment Shops: Where to Sell Your Old Clothes

pile of clothes

Most people have at least a few clothing items lying in their closets that they could stand to get rid of. Maybe you’re tight on cash and want to make a few bucks by selling last year’s fashion or maybe you just want to make some room in your closet so you can revamp your wardrobe. Regardless, you probably want to know where the best place to sell your old clothes is. 

The way I see it, your two best options are either to drag a bag of your clothes down to the consignment shop and let them get sold there or to list your own clothes on eBay and hope that some buyer snaps them up. But which is the better option for you? It comes down to a few main factors. 

Consignment Shops: The Pros and Cons

nyc consignment store
Time Out

When it comes to consignment shops, the main advantage is that you don’t really have to do any work to make money off your old clothes apart from actually taking them to the consignment shop. It’s easy! You hand them a bag of your old clothes, they price them and put them in the store, and then you get money. There’s no fuss with shipping and handling. There’s no communicating with buyers. If you have a super busy daily schedule, selling your clothes through a consignment shop is probably the better option for you. 

Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to selling through consignment shops as well. First and foremost, they need to make a profit, and so they’re going to take a commission. Most consignment shops take between 25% and 60% of the profit, leaving you with a smaller chunk of change then you would’ve had if you’d sold on eBay. 

Consignment shops also often have rules about what kind of items they’ll accept and what kind of condition they’ll accept them in. They may ask you to have all of your clothing items washed and ironed and hung on hangers, which means you may have to do more work than you want to. And if you want to sell a winter parka in the middle of June, they may turn you away flat-out. 

Additionally, most consignment shops will only keep your items on the shelf for a certain period of time (usually 30, 60, or 90 days). After that time period, they’ll either ask you to take back your item, slash the price, or donate it to charity, depending on the shop’s policy. It’s important to ask what happens to unsold clothes before giving your items to a consignment shop. 

However, if you choose the right consignment shop, you may find one that pays you upfront, eliminating any risk that you won’t make money off your old clothes. And if you’re the kind of person who likes shipping consignment, many of these stores will give you the option to use your earnings as store credit and will sometimes give you discounts. 

eBay: The Pros and Cons

ebay on tablet
The Balance Small Business

So, the main advantage of eBay is that you get to keep pretty much all of your profit from selling your clothes. They usually charge a 10% commission on sales (unless you’re selling a ton of items every month) and you’ll have to pay an additional 2.9% if your buyer pays through PayPal. In general, though, you’re going to end up with much more money in your pocket if you sell on eBay. So if the bottom line is the most important factor to you and you’re willing to give up some more time, then selling on eBay is the way to go. 

The drawback of selling on eBay is that it’s far more time-intensive than selling through a consignment shop. You have to take pictures of the individual items, create an eBay account, list them on the site, and then coordinate with potential buyers. Once someone actually buys your items, you have to package them, print out shipping labels, and take them to the post office. All of this can take up a lot of time, and if you’re selling a few inexpensive items, it may not be worth it. 

One thing that eBay makes really easy, though, is calculating the shipping. If you go with their recommended shipping cost, you’ll pretty much never get burned. They also make it rather easy to get your earnings into your bank account, that is, if you already have an account with PayPal. You can transfer money directly from a PayPal account to your bank account without ever having to hold it in your hand. By contrast, a consignment shop will probably pay you in cash, which means you’ll have to make a trip to the bank to deposit it. 

And, unlike some consignment shops that may donate your unsold items or slash their prices, if you don’t sell an item on eBay, your listing just expires and you still have the item and full control over how it’s priced in the future. 

The Verdict

clothes in closet

If you’re looking to offload some clothes without putting in much effort and make a few bucks from them, then you’re probably better off going through a consignment shop. If you’re more concerned about the amount of money you’re going to make and you’re willing to put in a little more effort, selling on eBay is the better option.

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