For someone who earns a living by shopping for secondhand goods, it's important I take the time to ensure the items I am picking up are in great condition, and/or the price I am going to pay for the item is worth the state of the product. Even if you just thrift for your own closet (also me!) there is not a guarantee that the item is in as great condition as it would be from a "traditional" store, and many thrifts don't offer cash back or exchanges. After buying my own share of damaged goods that have had to be redonated or discarded and learning from my costly mistakes, I've put together a quick list of where to look for common wear and tear on different items.
[ ] Soles - if the rubber is wearing thin in spots or there are holes
[ ] Tips - peeling, rubbing, holes
[ ] Heels - rubbing
[ ] Inside Soles - peeling or detachment
[ ] Buttons and Zippers - buttons are all present and zipper works up and down
[ ] Inside Crotch - stains (ew)
[ ] Hem - any alterations
[ ] Outside Crotch - holes, thinning, rubbing, wear
[ ] Belt Loops - tearing
[ ] Buttons - all present
[ ] Underarms - holes, stains, yellowing
[ ] Stitching - unraveling, tearing (particularly around hem and sleeves)
[ ] Belts - ensure no belt loops / missing belt
[ ] Inside Pockets - no ripping / detaching of lining
[ ] Zippers - unstitching
[ ] Lining - unstitched, detaching, staining
[ ] Belts - ensure no belt loops / missing belt
[ ] Hem - unstitching, alterations
[ ] Underarms - holes, rips
[ ] Lining / Slip - cut out, missing, ripped
[ ] Straps - peeling, missing (some bags have small handles and a long, detachable strap)
[ ] Corners - rubbing
[ ] Interior - staining
[ ] Hardware - scratching, rubbing
Outside of these item specific assessments always make sure to lay out the item either on your cart or over the rack and inspect both sides for stains, rips, holes, etc.
TJ Maxx and Marshalls recently started a big yellow tag event where they marked down a bunch of their inventory. If you haven't been yet, run don't walk because a lot of people are already sharing their huge hauls! If you are looking to utilize this event to source, I have compiled some of my tips for finding the best inventory. Even if you are just buying for yourself, you definitely still need to read tips #2,3, and 4!
Look For One Off Pieces
Honestly, if most pieces have gotten to the point where they are deeply discounted, there is a reason. Either they were just not on the trend, the fit is off, or something made them unpopular. Keep this in mind when shopping to flip! Typically, rag & bone is a brand I will always pick up. As I was going through the clearance racks I came across a perfect pair of r&b white skinny jeans and my instincts told me to put them in my cart! As I continued flipping through the rack I came across one after the other and I immediately put mine back. If rag & bone is not selling something is wrong! When I’m sourcing, I look for pieces that have only been left to one maybe two tops on the clearance racks. Any more than that and I fear returns and saturation.
Don't Assume It's In Perfect Condition
I tend to let my guard down when shopping at a department store because everything is new and I assume they don’t sell damaged merchandise. Well, not so much the case. Recently, I went to try on a pair of AG jeans that were priced down to $15, so I was really excited about them. As I went to zip, bam! The zipper had come completely unattached! No wonder they were so cheap. Give items you buy here just as much attention you would from a thrift store.
Give Designer Items Extra Attention
I had no idea this was a problem until recently when one of my favorite resellers talked about being scammed at TJ Maxx! She had picked up a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress for a great deal. After getting home she noticed later that the dress was missing the dvf hologram and had a different interior material and care tag. Essentially what some scammers do is purchase a designer item, swap the tags with a similar looking non designer item, and either keep the real designer item for themselves or have extra designer labels they slap on and resell. Be thorough!
Don't Have Blinders For Sale Tags
I am the first person to admit that sale stickers can make me a little star struck. And stores know that! I have seen sales stickers stuck directly over prices to hide that the discount is literally under 5% but people still buy it thinking they are getting a great deal. And while the yellow tag stickers at Marshall's and TJ Maxx are typically the lowest price, I have seen them get an even lower sticker put over it. Don't let the yellow color be your biggest determination in buying an item. Make sure you know the original retail price!
Check Your Stats for Price
This is something I wish I had known better when I first started my reselling business: know popularity, and what resells for how much. I could have saved myself so much money and stor
age space! In the beginning I was sourcing and paying up for brands that I liked and thought were popular. For example, I paid about $15-20 for cute NWT Michael Kors tops that I am still sitting on! Going forward, I definitely wouldn't have purchased those unless they were atleast under $10. Ralph Lauren was another brand I overestimated. Research everything!
A lot of people are having the same idea. When a large batch of the same item gets marked down at the same time for a considerable amount less than retail, expect that a lot of them will end up on reselling sites. When I'm sourcing at these spots, I will always look up what is currently available on Poshmark and eBay. If there are more than 2 in the size I want to purchase, I put it back. With so many for sale you will likely sit on it for a while!