How to cash in on the secondhand shopping surge

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — For more Americans, secondhand shopping is becoming a first choice.

Rachael Smith started reselling clothes a few years ago. “It just gave me something to do from home with a little one where I could make some extra money and contribute to the household on my own time,” she said.

Now, the Phoenix mom has 206,000 followers on Poshmark, a social network focused on selling goods. “I do thrift a lot. Probably my favorite place, we call it the bins, but it’s the Goodwill Clearance Center where you pay by the pound,” she said. “You’re literally digging for treasure.”

It’s that treasure that turns into cash. Last year, shoppers bought 1.4 billion secondhand apparel items, according to a recent report by thredUP. The company projects the secondhand market in the U.S. will balloon to $70 billion by 2027.

“Secondhand shopping overall is just booming right now,” said Poshmark’s Mallory Smith. “We’re seeing different pockets of the country really thriving and the Phoenix area is certainly one of those.”

According to Poshmark, there are more than 64,000 sellers on the site just in Phoenix. Smith says inflation is helping to drive the spike in reselling. “People are really looking for ways to make money, to get rid of some items, to help supplement things,” Smith said. “We also are seeing a rise in sustainability being a really big driver for the decisions people are making. A lot of Gen Z specifically are really conscious about the landfills and where these fast fashion items are going.”

There are a lot of different ways to make sales. On Poshmark and Mercari, sellers take their own photos, set their own prices and ship items that sell. ThredUp and The RealReal are more like consignment shops — you send in your stuff and get a cut of any sales.

To make the most money on your used items, Nerdwallet suggests washing or dry-cleaning clothes, polishing hardware on shoes and bags, and buffing out any scuff marks. If you’re posting your own items, it’s also important to snap quality photos and write an honest description of the item you’re trying to sell. “Cleaning out your closet is a perfect way to start,” Smith said.

For Rachael, it did start with a closet clean-out, but it has turned into a full-time job. She even hosts live shows on Poshmark to help make sales and connect with customers. “It’s trial and error. What might work for me might not work for another seller,” she said. “If you have a niche, say someone who may already have a passion for handbags or shoes, start with what you know and build on that.”

To be a thrifty secondhand shopper, the Association of Resale Professionals says it is important to know the retail price of items before you shop. The group also suggests checking return policies.

Susan Campbell

Susan Campbell

Susan Campbell is a consumer investigative reporter for On Your Side. She joined Arizona’s Family in January 2020. ​