Richmond thrift stores: Reaping what you sew

Maya Earls
Spectrum Editor

People can donate gently used clothing items to Rumors in exchange for 35 percent cash or store credit. Photo by Becca Schwartz

After a few years, closets run out of room for hangers, dressers get overstuffed and shoes accumulate in piles. Selling an item in good condition will not only leave more closet space, but also cheer up the starving piggy bank. Curious to see which store would offer the most money for my clothes, I grabbed some barely worn shoes and set out on a shopping experiment.

Online, a pair of The Beatles and Vans Yellow Submarine skate shoes is priced between $40 and $80. With the shoes still in the box, I drove to Plato’s Closet on 9127 W. Broad St. in an attempt to get a price close to the one listed online.

Plato’s Closet buys gently used brand-name items for young adults and teens. The store buys items every day they are open, and sells all styles of clothing throughout the year. When buying, Plato’s Closet inspects the clothing and estimates the original value.

For the Vans, the cashier looked online and informed me the selling price was around $50. She then said Plato’s closet sells items for 50 percent lower than retail value. The store pays the seller about one-third of the discounted price. For my Vans, the woman said she could pay me $9.50. I told her I would have to think about the price, and drove to my next location.

Next, I went to Round Two on 104 W. Broad St. Walking into the store, I realized they only sell men’s shoes so I took my Vans and tried another location. A few blocks ahead was a store joined with Books, Bikes and Beyond. The clothing selection was small, but they did buy items regularly.

Unlike Plato’s Closet, there was not a standard for buying items. The man at the counter simply asked me how much money I wanted for the shoes. When I said $10, he said he might be able to do $3 or $4. Since he was not the official man who buys clothing, he said if I came back later there was a possibility I could get a higher price.

I left the store and walked down Broad Street towards Rumors Boutique. Opened in 2007, Rumors has long been a VCU staple, buying selling and trading stylish clothing. Normally Rumors pays 35 percent of their selling price in cash, but they were offering 50 percent cash for men’s shoes.

Making a beeline for the counter, I placed the box in front of the cashier and asked how much money they were worth. The man told me my shoes were too small for men’s sizes, so he would not be able to over 50 percent cash. He said he could pay $11, but if I left and came back another person might offer me a different price. While Rumors did offer the most money for my shoes, it was quite far from the online price.

If someone has a gently used, fashionable piece of clothing, Rumors Boutique is currently the highest bidder. For a limited edition clothing item, it might be better to try selling online for a higher price. Selling clothing will probably not help someone make a living, but it is an easy way to make room in the closet while getting money for a rainy day.

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