I used to have all the time in the world. Back in my magazine editor days, I would spend hours, and I mean HOURS, sifting through the racks at Filene’s Basement (right around the corner from my Tremont Street apartment in Boston) or Century 21 (my favorite location was right across the street from the World Trade Center, and I was headed there the morning of 9/11 right after a hair appointment).
I loved nothing more than whiling away a spare couple of hours looking for the perfect steal, from my favorite silver Dolce & Gabbana mules to a pink Versace cocktail dress.
Some of my friends weren’t so patient. I have a friend who claimed she immediately broke out in hives just passing Filene’s Basement.
These days, however, I’m lucky if I have 15 minutes here and half an hour there, usually waiting for one of my daughters to finish an activity. Long days of shopping, if they happen at all, are spent looking for items for them, and I’m totally fine with that.
But I still love to hunt for a fab find.
And that’s why I’m so thankful for online consignment stores and resale shops (and outlets, which might have to be the topic of another video). Online consignment gives you the thrill of searching for that perfect find, but you can do it in your PJs, with filters. It’s totally win-win.
Of course, there are some strategies that can help you navigate the world of online consignment shopping more like a professional stylist, and that’s what today’s video is all about. Here, my best strategies for online consignment shopping!
Know Where To Shop
The first step to thrifting successfully online is to know the right store for what you’re looking for. Here’s a breakdown of a few of my faves!
Here’s a listing for the same Chanel classic medium flap bag on the different resellers.
The largest online consignment store in the world, ThredUp offers great deals on everything from everyday brands (Old Navy, Target) to higher-end items. This is the place to go if you’re looking for a deal, and it’s also a great source for kids’ clothes.
Tradesy is a great source for high-end bags and accessories, although you’ll find items “from Zara to Chanel.” Everything is authenticated. Tradesy also features an entire section dedicated to weddings.
The Real Real
The Real Rea feels like a high-end boutique, and has several brick and mortar locations around the country. This is the place to shop exclusively high-end items in pristine condition.
Vestiaire Collective is an international platform for designer resale with a social media component. It sells designer and luxury, so Nike as well as Gucci. Items are shipped from individual sellers and not from a central warehouse.
Like Vestiaire Collective, on Poshmark you are buying from individual sellers, called Poshers. Luxury purchases over $500 are sent to Poshmark for authentication and then shipped to the buyer. Posh Parties allow you to browse curated items in categories like Fall Trends, Summer Fun, etc. There’s a social media component that allows you to follow your favorite Poshers, share listings, etc.
Know Your Prices
There’s no way to know whether an item is a good deal unless you know what it originally cost. That’s why medium to higher-end items tend to be better deals at these stores, especially places like ThredUp. For example, a v-neck sweater from H&M is $15.99 on ThredUp, and $19.99 on the H&M site. (These are comparable but not identical sweaters.). Since sweaters at H&M start at $9.99, the prices on ThredUp can be comparable for a secondhand version from a previous season.
On the other hand, a Lilly Pulitzer sweater is a great deal on ThredUp at $40.99, as the least expensive sweater I found on the Lilly website was $118.
Know What You’re Looking For
Unless you have unlimited time, the larger online consignment stores are not the place for a casual browse or for virtual window shopping. You will fall into the abyss of endless possibilities, and you may never be able to dig your way out. It helps to go in with a specific plan. The more specific, the better. Instead of searching for jeans, try to narrow your options by style, size, brand, price, wash, and other features.
Save Your Faves
All of these retailers allow you to Favorite items for future reference, so you can Heart all of your favorite boots and then compare before making a decision. On some sites, like Poshmark and Ebay, a reseller might reach out to you with a limited time offer on an item you’ve saved.
Authenticate & Affirm
Sites like The Real Real and Tradesy offer professional authentication services that are trustworthy, in my opinion, but if you want a second opinion on an expensive purchase, consider a service like Authenticate First for a second opinion. Another great option on expensive purchases is Affrm, which lets you break the price of that coveted bag into 3 separate payments. It’s often an option at checkout on many of these retailers.
Check the Return Policy
The Return Policy varies widely on some of these items, from 21 days at The Real Real to just a couple of days at Poshmark. Always check, because the policy even varies within stores based on the type of item and even the discount you received.
Use Their Tools
All of these sites have apps that make shopping all too easy, but many feature other tools to enhance your shopping experience, from Poshmark bundles (which let you group items together from a particular seller) to ThredUp’s Goody & Rescue Boxes.
I hope that this post and video give you the confidence to dive into the wild and wonderful world of online resale! Which of these retailers have you shopped, and what was your experience? Let me know in the comments!