Charlotte-area resale stores: getting bang for your buck

Charlotte-area resale stores: getting bang for your buck


by DION LIM / NBC Charlotte

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 12:34 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 26 at 7:06 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It’s estimated, American women spend $125,000 on clothes in their lifetime!  That includes 3000 pieces of clothing, and much of it, never even worn.

Whitley Hamlin, a personal stylist and creator of the fashion website Queen City Style, has one of those overstuffed closets.  So  much so, the bar is bending in the middle.

“So here we are, this is me, and his is my poor sweet husband!  Only a third of the closet is his, and the remaining two-thirds is mine!” She smiles guiltily as she gestures to the sagging bar, bearing the load of her mostly vintage dresses, tunics and tops.

On her website, Whitley doles out fashion advice.

“If you don’t wear something within two years, it’s time to get rid of it.”

So following her own words of wisdom, we asked Whitley to purge some items from her closet, to sell at Charlotte-area resale shops, and make some cold hard cash.

Charlotte is home to a growing number of these kinds of stores.  Not quite consignment, since sellers get cash on the spot, versus waiting for their item to sell.

We sent Whitley to three different shops.  Clothes Mentor in Midtown, Buffalo Exchange in Plaza Midwood, and Plato’s Closet in Matthews.  We wanted to see, when our cameras weren’t rolling, how much money she could make for three different items.  The results were three very different prices.

At Clothes Mentor, a $385 dress, would net $22.80.  The same dress, $9.60 in cash at Buffalo Exchange.  A $130 wrap shirt was priced at $2 at Buffalo Exchange, while it was rejected by the other two shops.  Clothes Mentor offered Whitley $3.10 for a J.Crew tank top, and Buffalo Exchange offered $4.20.

Most surprisingly though?

“We have these three items, and [Plato’s Closet] didn’t accept any of them!”

Because these figures didn’t sound like a lot of money, NBC Charlotte went back to the same stores, armed with the same three items, to find out why your clothes, may not be worth as much as you think.

All three shops work on the same model.  To pay you about 30-percent of what they’d sell the item for, which is about 70-percent or more off original retail.

Shawn Cox of Clothes Mentor tells NBC Charlotte there is a secret to selling success, starting with knowing what the store is looking for.

“We are for women sizes 0-26.  The woman who doesn’t want to spend the price at the mall, they can come here.  If it’s higher-end [designers] you’ll get more money for them,” he explained. 

He also says to follow store guidelines.

“We look for items inside the two-year window; it’s got to be current. It can’t have slight wear.”

Kari Schlappich of Plato’s Closet says, their target audience is different than other resale stores.  Bringing in what the store needs can maximize the amount of money paid out.

“It’s more casual.  You can come in here and find a t-shirt to lounge around in, or a prom dress.”

As for why the items our secret shopper Whitley brought in and were rejected by Plato’s Closet?  Why did they make the cut when NBC Charlotte tried to sell them in store?

“It could be inventory… right now we have a lot of dresses, thousands of them… and the demand.”

We then asked Sarah Palmer,  manager at Buffalo Exchange, why our clothes were priced the way they were—lower than Clothes Mentor.

“Our main goal is to really get the best value for you if you’re selling or buying.  We focus on the best clothes and the best prices.”

All stores recommended sellers not get offended at low offers.  The price is automatically generated by a computer program system. All three even said they’d recommend a competing store, or selling on eBay if you’re not pleased with the offer amount.

As for our secret shopper Whitley, what did she think about the resale stores?

“These stores are really cool, they’ve got some great brands and designers and you can get [items] at really great prices. You won’t get the most money [compared to] eBay, but if you’re looking for a quick bang for your buck, this is a good way to go.”