My Experience With ThredUP.com

Today marks the finalization of a transaction between ThredUP.com and me.  If you’ve never heard of ThredUP, it is one of many websites trending with the online-consignment-shop concept that you can send them your gently used clothing and have them buy these pieces off you for a fraction of the price they’re going to sell them for on the website – meaning that you can also shop a vast selection of clothing that their team has selected from other people like you.

I hadn’t heard anything about other users’ experience with the website before, so I decided to take a gamble and try their “closet clean-out service” since I had a lot of clothing – some of which I’d only worn less than a handful of times or not at all – that could be better off in a new home.  So, I requested their big green polka-dot bag, which they ship to you for free.  It is a giant bag that you use to stuff to the brim, and then drop off at Fed Ex (they’ve already got the shipping covered for you).  I dropped off my clothing early December of last year, and they sent me a notification saying that they received my bag on December 18, 2013.

That’s when I began to feel frustrated.  They send me a few e-mail notifications claiming that they had a large volume of bags to go through since the interest and use in their service had dramatically increased suddenly, but that I could still expect to receive a pay-out by January 22, 2014.  So, I shrugged it off – nothing much I could do about it.  I waited until January 23 to e-mail them when I did not see a payment in my account. I e-mailed customer service to inquire about the status of my bag.  The response was that there was an item delaying the process, but that they would try to push it into processing so that I could receive my payout, and that they would get back to me when they received an update.

I waited five days. By then, I was getting extremely frustrated and was becoming more and more convinced that the website was a scam, particularly since I had never heard anyone talk about it before and their customer service was not responding to my e-mails.  After some hassling and complaining on their Facebook page, I finally got my pay-out, and they told me I had a bag of the clothing pieces they did not take in the mail.  I was able to transfer the funds to my Paypal account, with a 2% transaction fee imposed by Paypal.  I ended up netting about $124 from the whole transaction.

So, would I recommend ThredUP?  Yes and no.

  • If you’ve got a bunch of clothing you’d like to get rid of quickly, doing this through ThredUP.com may not be the quickest.  Their processing time, as I’ve learned from my December-to-January experience, can vary depending on how many other bags they have to go through.  You can never really know when the “best” time to send your clean-out bag is.  Perhaps if they increased the staff that processed the bags, this would not be a problem in the future.
  • Not all your clothing will be accepted.  They are selective about brands and the condition of clothing.  Even though many of my items are name-brand (like BCBG Max Azria, Zara, etc.) in excellent condition – some with tags – they were sent back.  This isn’t necessarily a good or a bad thing, but it may be disappointing if you were hoping to “get rid” of all your unwanted clothing in one go while making some money in the process.
  • Their customer service is satisfactory.  They must have been swamped by e-mails from suddenly having so much interest in their clean-out service and whatever else they had to deal with, but they eventually respond to you and try to get things going.  While I was pretty upset and frustrated (I may have said they were afflicted by reading comprehension issues a couple times… *ahem* This is coming from a dyslexic individual, too), they were still courteous and was able to complete the transaction for me… even if it wasn’t exactly in a timely manner.  This proves that they are not operating a scam operation, but indeed are trying to run a business – even if they are a little short-staffed.

The bottom line:  Results may vary.  If you’re looking for a way to make some money and want to avoid the crazies that perpetually haunt the eBay community, using ThredUP may be a good route to go on, particularly if you’re not looking to do this within a two-week or less time frame.

By the way, there are other sites operating on the same basis, such as liketwice.com.  While I’ve never sent my clothes there to sell, I have purchased clothing from them, and I would definitely recommend shopping there!  With free returns and full refunds, you don’t have much to lose if you don’t end up liking what you bought.

Have you ever had any experience with similar websites? How did it go?

Updated to add: Here’s a screenshot of my final payout, in case you’re curious.

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What you probably didn’t know about Etsy.com

When I first discovered the wonderful world of Etsy years ago, I thought it was the best thing ever.  To me, it was basically a search engine for all things handmade or handcrafted, with some vintage things thrown into the mix.  This wonderful bubble burst when I realized that not everything is truly, independently and lovingly handmade by some caring individual in their home.  Sure, you get that on Etsy, but there are also the greedy, lying individuals (I didn’t even bother to disguise my distaste here, did I?) who masquerade as independent crafters of handmade goodness, “working” in collaboration with factories overseas to create a multitude of products to sell for the masses, labeled as “handmade.”

So, nowadays, when I browse Etsy in search of something for my home, for a gift, or for myself, I try to investigate and determine whether or not what I am considering purchasing is truly, independently handmade or not.  Although Etsy’s new policy cites that sellers will have to disclose whether or not they’ve partnered up with a manufacturer in 2014, which will hopefully make this process a lot more transparent, you may be wondering how to do that now – seeing as how there’s still a month and a half to go until that happens.

Here are a few ways you can determine the independent credibility of a seller:

Check the opening date of the shop, and compare this to the number of sales that have occurred since that date.  Let’s say, for example, a clothing shop on Etsy opened up about a year ago from the date you’re now browsing their items for sale; if they’ve got about 400 sales or some ridiculous number like that since then, they’re most likely using a manufacturer and not using their own hands and personal time to handcraft these items.

Look at how many duplicate listings they have.  Generally, the more duplicate listings of the exact same items, the more likely it is that they weren’t lovingly handmade.  A truly independent seller, particularly if they care about the quality of their piece, would not necessarily have time to create several copies of one particular style of item, even if it is their full-time job.  In some cases, they’re getting help from partners, friends, or family, but sometimes, you have to compare and scrutinize the amount of listings to the amount of transactions to determine this for yourself.

Determine where the items are coming from.  Listings of items for sale will typically disclose where the item ships from.  This is not to say that if something is from China, you automatically must rule them out, as this is unfair to sellers who may actually be honest, independent workers, but if you consider the item’s location of creation along with the shop’s opening and the amount of listings, it should be pretty easy to determine if the item is truly handcrafted by an independent seller.

These aren’t hard or fast rules, but merely tips on what one ought to look out for if they’re interested in purchasing an item they can feel good about.  If you have any doubts or concerns, contact the seller and ask.

If you’re interested in reading more about Etsy and their changes in policy, try these articles:

“Conscious consumerism” is still consumerism.

One of the reasons why I started this blog was because I decided I wanted to commit to a lifestyle change for the better – not just for myself, but also for the wellbeing of the environment and the people with whom I share this world.  When I was about five years younger, I explored the realm of sustainably-created, environmentally-friendly goods, but I quickly forgot about this as I became more and more absorbed with the materialistic culture that society has cultivated over decades.  It almost seemed ingrained in my brain – and everyone else’s mind in my generation – that we should spend money and accumulate goods.  With the vast majority of companies opting to take their production of goods overseas, where they typically pay people lower wages, we as a society are becoming quite comfortable with our consumerism habits.  It’s even easier now to experience instant gratification when you’ve got online vendors at your fingertips, with overnight or two-day shipping options available so that you can have what you want as quickly as possible.  Or, you can make it even more instant by personally visiting one of the billions of brick-and-mortar stores that offer a selection of cheaply made goods that you can pick up and take home.

This summer, I moved into a studio.  My boyfriend, who was helping me, commented, “You sure have a lot of stuff for one person!”  It was absolutely true.  Some things, I felt were necessary, such as the sofa, chairs, bed, and lamps, but I felt like the bulk of it was comprised of my closet.  Over the years, I’d dig into my closet every now and then and sort out all the things I no longer wanted or things that I haven’t worn in a long time.  I would make a huge pile, stuff them into one or two (or even three) large bags, and I would donate them.  Then, more recently, I remarked to my boyfriend, after opening my walk-in closet door and revealing the unorganized mess inside, “I can’t seem to make a dent in this closet!  Every time I donate something, I always seem to have the same amount of clothes!”  He said something that was very obvious and made a lot of sense, “You do make a dent.  But you also buy things to replace what you got rid of, so it seems like you didn’t.”  I realized then that I needed to make strict changes with my consuming habits.  Even though I believed I was being more of a conscious consumer because I was choosing to buy goods that were secondhand, vintage, produced by independent sellers, or produced by companies that touted fair trade/fair wages/sustainable/ethical/etc., I was still consuming and accumulating too much.

The bottom line:  Consumerism is consumerism.  Don’t buy too much.  If you’re going to buy something, consider where it came from, who made it, and how long it’s going to last you.

Vintage & Antique Discoveries

Today was the first time I ever browsed a real vintage store!  I was lucky to be able to visit two within the same block.

I found so many amazing things!

This was the first thing I saw and picked up.  I think it’s lovely.  Unfortunately, like many of the items in the store, this was deceptively small!  I could only zip it up halfway.  It was a small.

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I also quite liked this vest; it looked adorable on, but I don’t typically wear vests.  Back to the rack it went!

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I’m in love with this black mini dress.  The picture doesn’t do it justice.  It’s adorable in real life!  They would go great with a certain pair of black lacy heels I just purchased from the consignment shop.

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I also found this plaid wool skirt.  I’ve never been terribly fond of plaid, but I LOVE this so much! The beige, the brown, and the grey work so well together, and the material is such nice quality.  The fringe detail on the pockets is fun, and speaking of pockets, who doesn’t love a skirt with a pocket or two?! They’re practical!

I would hem this to above the knee, however, since the length is overwhelming on my petite frame.

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There were many lovely vintage pieces, but these are the only ones I thought fit my style best!  The sweetest part was that everything was 30% off.  Great deal!  I also got a pair of boots, which I’ll be sure to wear in a future outfit post!

And plus, isn’t the fitting room so retro and cute?  This is the romper from a previous thrift store shopping expedition.  🙂

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The second vintage shop also had some great things.

This nautical dress isn’t my style, but it’s certainly adorable!

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I thought this maxi dress was adorable, but it was about a foot too long for me!  I didn’t feel like it was particularly worth hemming or fixing up, so I passed this up.

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I also passed up this beautiful green maxi dress.  It comes with a matching shawl, which I wasn’t too fond of. The length was perfect.  The color looks amazing on tan skin tones!  I figured I wouldn’t wear too frequently.  Someone else will love it. 🙂

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I ended up buying these items instead!

I found the shorts first, then I walked around the store and discovered this top, which I felt would look great with the shorts.  So I tried it on… et voila!

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I love the high waisted shorts. It’s very comfortable.  Got to work on those legs more, however!

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Check out this brown bag! It was only $24, great quality, leather, and looks very similar to the J Crew Edie satchel, which I used to pine for.

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The J Crew Edie purse in many colors:

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I also found some amazing things at the antiques shop.  It was a treasure trove for jewelry and mid-century furniture pieces.

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Check out this old Singer sewing machine!  Only $300-ish. 🙂

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Remember when people used to use these?

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I adore this necklace.

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I was trying to be good and not wipe out all their jewelry displays (they had quite the collection from estates), though, so I only bought this. 🙂

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If there’s anything I learned today, it’s that antique and vintage shops are dangerous for my wallet!  But at least I have a nice new [secondhand] bag in which to house that wallet. 🙂

Santa Rosa has so many amazing vintage, thrift, antique, and consignment shops. I wish I could’ve spent the whole day looking through all of them!

Fabric shopping day!

I woke up to a grey, rainy day.  Normally, I’m pretty fearful of clouds and rain, but I was feeling pretty optimistic today because I got to go to the fabric store!  It wasn’t as overwhelming as my first shopping experience at Jo Ann’s (so, so many fabrics, aisles and aisles of them!!)  but there were still some fun, different fabrics I haven’t seen at other places yet.

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I love how everything is organized by color!  And there were so many pretty floral patterns, though I didn’t pick those up.

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You see, I’m trying to come up with projects I should start instead of doing what I keep doing, which is buying pretty fabrics and trying to come up with things to do with them.  I’ve started to accumulate quite the backlog of fabrics!

So I tried to stay practical…

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Got my threads…

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Then, I unwittingly selected a couple fabrics that matched up with the threads!  I wasn’t planning on it, I swear!

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Aren’t they pretty together?

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These are 440 yards each, if I remember correctly.  This is great for avoiding moments like this:

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How many times has this happened to you?!

thrift and consignment shopping finds!

It was definitely a fruitful shopping day for me at the thrift and consignment shops!

I found this amazing bag (and all the goodies in it!)

Bag full of goodies!

Pretty prints and colors!

I love this red floral maxi skirt!  I’ve been looking to add maxi skirts into my wardrobe.  The red floral print is cheery!  I could take in the waist a bit, however!

Floral Skirt

I don’t typically go for rompers myself due to the awkward bathroom situation, but I’m a sucker for ditsy floral prints.  I couldn’t help myself with this one.  The fit is great, but I do need to reinforce the buttons and add a hook-and-eye closure between the bust to stop gaping.

Floral Romper

I also scored a great tweed skirt.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good picture because my kitty kept attacking it.  She loves attacking anything with an interesting texture.  This skirt needs to be taken in at the waist!  I hope my Singer will be able to handle this.

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And here’s the outfit I wore!  I went for something ultra feminine with the lace and crochet dress, my comfortable 3″ raffia wedges, and my vintage Dooney & Bourke find from a thrift shop in Calistoga (love this bag so much!).

Lace Crochet Dress

Some of my finds I’ll definitely have to patch up, however, like this paisley maxi dress.  It’s a size medium, but a couple stitches to the backside will make the bodice fit much better and fix the sag!

paisley maxi dress

Needless to say, I’m pretty thrilled!  It’s always a good idea to stop into thrift or consignment shops at least once a week.  You’ll never know what knew goodies will turn up!