The emperor’s old clothes

I’ve been selling clothes to Buffalo Exchange for going on 15 years now, dating back to my undergrad days. I love it; Buffalo enables my revolving wardrobe. I used to have to wear black-tie for work events, and in five years probably only wore the same dress three times. Genius.

However. Selling at Buffalo can be a fashion gauntlet, and in my early days, I regularly writhed under the gimlet eyes of the buyers. They inspect the garments to a ridiculous degree, sometimes pulling out wet wipes to dab at teeny, undetected-by-me stains, or stepping back from the counter to have a hushed consultation with another buyer. It can be mildly humiliating. Often, you can leave your stuff and your ID at the counter and bypass the whole process, but sometimes they go on an educational bender and ask you to stay (I imagine) because they want sellers to understand what not to bring in.

I’ve developed a much thicker skin over the years, and typically do pretty well at selling, thanks to some strategies I’ve developed.

– Only bring stuff that’s in season; they can’t sell a wool coat in the middle of summer.

– Don’t bring in your entire cleaned-out closet at once. See above; also, chances are there’s a bunch of stuff in there that hasn’t been washed or worn in years. If it’s all wrinkly and musty at the bottom of a box, they aren’t going to be able to sell it. Just donate it. And if it’s in really bad shape…Goodwill probably doesn’t want it, either. Maybe it’s time for dust rags. I’ve seen people drag boxes and bags of crap in to Buffalo expecting to hit the jackpot…it makes me crazy and I’m not the one who has to go through it all.

– You’re being judged throughout the process, and the way you present your items will influence the buyer’s decision-making. I bring in a small stack of neatly folded, clean clothes – 15 items max – never in a bag. The bag just gives them one more way to judge you. If you get a buyer who recoils at the sight of an Abercrombie bag, a bag that still reeks of the house cologne, well, there’s one strike against your stuff.

– Buffalo is not really a thrift store. Keep in mind that they have to sell the items; they need to be in good shape, be on brand, and be on-trend. The latter can be particularly frustrating with denim, but the buyers know what’s selling. If they’re only moving dark-wash skinny jeans, they’re not going to be buying faded bootcut jeans. It sucks, but it’s not personal. If you itemize your taxes, you’d be amazed at what you can claim for a pair of jeans that you donate.

– Finally, be nice. No one wants to buy clothes from an asshole! And if you can’t believe that they don’t want your crazy-special vintage item, or that they will only give you a fraction of what you paid for that designer jacket, put it on consignment or give eBay a whirl instead.


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