Cleaning out your closet? Don’t trash! Trade, donate or sell instead

Even though a lot of people typically do a thorough house cleaning in the spring, fall is also a great time to take stock of your house, go through your closets and do an overall purge. The old rule still holds, if you haven’t worn something in a year, you probably aren’t going to wear it. And those pants you bought as incentive to lose those last five pounds? Pitch them.

Once you have gone through your closet, it might seem easiest to tie up those garbage bags and throw them to the curb – don’t do it!  Of course stained or ripped items can’t be used by anyone, but previously owned items can be passed on. So skip the trash and take a little extra time to give your clothes a new home.

Here are some options for passing on clothes:

1. Pass it on to a friend. Or a friend of a friend. Kids’ clothes – especially coats and shoes – can be pricey. Plus, kids grow so quickly, some items are, sadly, barely worn. My son has coats with a boy’s name I don’t even know on the tag – they were already hand-me-downs when my friend passed them on to me.

2. Host a clothes-swap with friends. If you have done a major closet overhaul, this is a great time to host a clothing swap party. Aim for 10-15 guests, and invite friends and friends-of-friends of all shapes and sizes; all size 2s with one size 14 will make for one dissatisfied guest. Everyone brings their cast-offs (at least ten items per guest), and claims an area. Be sure to have a few full length mirrors, and have a plan for deciding who gets a particularly popular item (i.e., a coin toss). If any guests are shy about changing in front of others, make sure there is a private room or even give them the heads up to wear a body suit or bathing suit! All leftovers get donated to your local charity or donation center.

3. Charities. Salvation Army, Goodwill, Catholic Charities and Am-vets are all worthy recipients. Many have a 24 hour drop off box, or even free pick up. Be sure to ask for your tax deduction slip.

4. Shelters. Womens’, teen and homeless shelters, and the City Mission all need clothing donations. Look online or call your local shelters to find out about donating.

5. Dress for Success.  Dress for Success is just one example of organizations that help women re-enter the work force with coaching/training and donated professional attire. Find one near you to donate suits, jackets, skirts, shoes and other office-appropriate clothing.

6. Consignment shops. While consignment shops aren’t donation organizations, this is a good option for  selling particularly high ticket items like coats, cocktail dresses, and that Chanel-esque suit passed down from your grandmother that never fit quite right. Call to make an appointment (some shops have irregular hours) and bring in your items. They will tell you on the spot what they will sell and what they will pass on. If the shop sells your clothes, they get a percentage and you get the rest. Kids’ consignment shops are also a good option – for selling and buying! I have found great deals for my son on barely-worn clothes – a $3 pair of corduroys, a $12 blazer, etc.

7. EBay. Not for the easily addicted (like me), EBay is another good – and fun -option for selling clothes in good or new condition. Snap some photos on your digital camera or phone and create a listing – it takes about 5-10 minutes. It costs 50 cents per listing (or cents more if you include more than two photos). You have to be willing to ship your sold items, of course, but that is a cost for the buyer. And if your items don’t sell? See numbers 1-6 above for ideas on what to do with them.

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