Summer Guide: Sell your clothes for cash — but first, read this

There's a good chance that if you shop in Tempe, you hate me. And it has nothing to do with the stories I've written for this newspaper. From August 2002 until the middle of 2006, I was the bitch behind the counter at Buffalo Exchange, sorting through your castoffs, silently judging you and occasionally paying you enough cash to buy a six-pack (but rarely anything more than that).

Actually, I think I was called a bitch only once or twice, and I usually had too many customers a day to really judge anyone — but there is an awkward stereotype that surrounds the buy counter, so I assume most of my customers felt this way at some point.

For those of you living under a rock — or in some of the Valley's classier ZIP codes — Buffalo Exchange is one of many resale-clothing shops in town. It was the first of its kind in this part of the country, opening in Tucson in the '70s and quickly expanding around the state. The same couple who founded the company still own it today. (And they're seriously the nicest people in the world. I met them only once, but I wanted them to be my grandparents.)

Here's how it works: You bring in your old clothes, they sort through them and take what they think they can resell, and you walk out with a percentage of the sales price in cash or trade. How much depends on the store. Buffalo Exchange pays out 35 percent in cash, 50 percent in trade. Other stores, like Name Brand Exchange and Sunset Clothing XChange, pay a little more but, therefore, are a bit more selective.

It's an incredibly simple system. It's also the most uncomfortable encounter you can have with a stranger. But it doesn't have to be. Believe it or not, the kids behind the counter actually want to buy your clothes. Your stuff has to be still wearable, and more than that, still have resale value. Think about it this way: If you wouldn't wear it ever again, Buffalo (and its competitors) is not going to buy it.

If you're cleaning out the closet, I have some advice for you. But first, let me tell you why you should listen to me in the first place. When I started in the resale clothing biz, I knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about clothes. I'd worked at the Gap for one holiday season and sometimes I'd read Vogue. I'd honestly never even been inside a Nordstrom. I even, though it's shameful to admit this, owned a pair of Rocket Dogs. By the time I left Buffalo, I knew how to tell quality clothing by the way it was stitched, the kind of zipper it had, and the way the fabric felt. The kids behind the buy counter may look clueless, but they're not. Buyers go through months of training before they're allowed to pick through your piles unsupervised. You can trust them — really.

If someone as fashionably hopeless as I was at 18 could learn how to buy clothes — and work my way up to a point where I trained others to do so — you can certainly learn how to sell them. As long as you listen to me.

Wash your clothes before bringing them in. As in putting them in the washer and then the dryer. Using a washcloth to wipe the dirt off doesn't count. There are no giant washing machines in the back of the store. Your clothes are purchased, tagged, and set out for people to buy as is. So if your T-shirt is covered in cat hair, or smells like you rolled up your car window and chain-smoked a pack of Parliaments while wearing it, your buyer is going to pass. Also, try to show some consideration for the fact that a stranger has to touch everything you bring into the store. I once had a worm crawl out of a pocket and onto my arm. I once had a bee fly out of a coat and sting me. My good friend once discovered a freebase kit in the bottom of a shopping bag, and there's actually a protocol to follow in order to avoid getting pricked by hypodermic needles left in pants pockets. I'm not sure what kind of crackhead forgets these things, but it happens way too often, and it makes your buyer real grumpy.

And while we're on the subject of hygiene — before you toss your jeans into your "sell to Buffalo" bag, check the crotch. Please. Especially if you just had your period, or prefer not to wear panties. There is nothing in the world more terrible than explaining to a spaced-out sorority girl that you can't buy her designer jeans because they are dirty, and then having to explain to her, "No . . . on the inside."

Aside from making sure your clothes are laundered, keep in mind you are not going to Goodwill or Savers. Resale stores will not and cannot buy whatever crap you just throw into a bag. They follow current trends, which means usually they're only going to take styles that are about six months old, or are classic enough to stay popular over a sustained amount of time.

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5 comments
Cindy Ku
Cindy Ku

I really like this article good advice! I have just heard of Buffalo Exchange about an hour ago and was looking for some more information online until I read this! This just about covers everything I need to Know Thank You :D

We Buyclothes
We Buyclothes

We pay up to 20£ per bag

CASH 4 CLOTHES

Call free now ,test us or email us :)

5 £ per bag for quality clothing ,shoes & soft toys

10 £ per bag for branded clothing and shoes

20£ per bag for new clothes with tags which are no good for you any more

Our 3 simple step process :

Call us or email us to arrange a collection

Wave your clothes ready to be checked and sorted

We turn up ,check ,weight ,and pay on the spot

We collecting Kent area.

For large quantity's over 500 kg we can travel anywhere in Uk.

0800 644 0364 or 0743 862 7652

Thank you

Char J
Char J

WOW! Great advice! I Googled 'selling clothes for cash' and I am sooo glad I took the time to read your article! I remember an experience I had a few years ago when I went to a consignment shop and I left frustrated and embarrassed. Mainly because my expectations were too high, but at least my clothes WERE CLEAN! I didn't get paid much and I ended up donating most of it elsewhere...sigh. But now after having read your article, I am READY!!!

Pack Rat
Pack Rat

I really enjoyed reading this article. Definitely very informative. Just got done cleaning out my closet and was encouraged to try to sell my clothes before giving them away. Now I'm definitely going back through my piles again to save myself & the store wasted time w/ the pieces I'd like to never see again. Thanks for saving me the embarrassment! ; P

Karen
Karen

i have a pair of True Religion men jeans valued at $328.00 in meant condition with the original True Religion tag on it, How much at a roughly offer can you give me for them. I also have a Brand new Tight fitting Dark blue Baby Phat Jean Skirt with the original tags on it as well . I can be reached at 562-443-0227

 
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