Selling used clothes keeps getting easier and easier. You probably know that you can sell your used clothes on sites like eBay and Poshmark, but did you know that there are stores that will pay you cash on the spot?
Plato’s Closet is a popular store with locations across the United States where you can convert your unwanted clothes to cash. If you adopt some of the strategies discussed below, you can even make money selling used clothes at Plato’s Closet too.
Affiliate Disclosure: MBNY participates in a number of affiliate programs including the Amazon Associates affiliate program. Some of the links below are affiliate links and MBNY may be compensated for any purchases made through those links. You can read more about that here.
How Plato’s Closet Works
Plato’s Closet is a secondhand clothing store that buys and sells used clothes, shoes, and accessories. The target demographic is teens and young adults so they typically buy styles and brands that appeal to that audience (aka no business attire). It is based on a franchise model which means a Plato’s Closet in one town may be managed differently than another.
When you are ready to sell your clothes, take your items to the buy counter at the front of the store. The buyer will take down your information and they may ask to see a license to verify your identity. After you check-in with the buyer they will give you an estimated wait time. Depending on how busy the store is, you can peruse the racks or leave your stuff and come back later in the day.
When the buyer is finished looking at your items you can return to the register to cash out. They will typically tell you why they passed on your items – wear, age, etc. – and will offer to let you check out what they took. If you found something to buy while you were waiting, Plato’s Closet allows you to use your earnings to “trade” for your purchase. This also comes with a 10 percent discount which is a nice perk.
Plato’s Closet is one of the few stores in America where the cashier pays you rather than you paying them. Kind of cool huh?
What Plato’s Closet Buys
It’s important to remember Plato’s Closet is a for-profit business, not Goodwill. They want to buy certain items so before you go it is important to do some research to know what you’ll have the most luck selling.
Plato’s Closet doesn’t like old or vintage items. If you have something that is more than 5 years old, there’s a good chance that Plato’s won’t buy it. That isn’t to say it isn’t sellable, it just doesn’t meet Plato’s recency criteria.
To find out how old something is look at the tag inside the shirt. Most of the brands that Plato’s Closet buys – think American Eagle, Hollister, Old Navy, etc. – all have dated tags in them. The more recent an item is, the more likely Plato’s will buy it.
Here’s an example of an American Eagle shirt. The 10/18 on the tag means the item was manufactured to be sold in October 2018. Some companies might date by season such as “SPR 18” indicating it was produced for the Spring 2018 fashion season. For items that don’t have a date tag use your best judgment. If you’ve owned something for a several years and it’s a standard brand you could find at a mall or TJ Maxx Plato’s might not buy it.
Before you haul your bags over to your nearest Plato’s Closet, pay attention to what season you’re in. If it’s the beginning of spring chances are Plato’s isn’t going to buy your pre-owned winter coat, no matter how nice it is.
Plan your selling strategy around their seasonal buying schedule. Like any retailer, they will be looking to buy new inventory before the season begins. That means towards the end of late summer Plato’s will be looking to buy flannel, sweaters, and winter jackets. Likewise, towards the end of winter Plato’s will want to buy shorts, dresses, and swimsuits.
Anytime you walk into a Plato’s Closet you’ll notice 80 percent of the store is women’s clothes. While women are the most frequent shoppers at Plato’s, that isn’t to say men don’t want to shop there too. Wherever you go there seems to be a short supply of used men’s clothes.
If you’re a reseller looking to diversify or a college kid looking to make quick cash, menswear is going to be your best category. There is less competition so your chances of making a sale to Plato’s is a lot higher. Pay attention to recency, seasonality, and wear, but definitely prioritize bringing mens clothing to Plato’s when you can.
Things They Don’t Have a Lot of
It might seem obvious but before you sell clothes to Plato’s Closet actually walk inside and observe the store layout. What does the store have a lot of? What do they have too little of? Are there certain brands or styles of items they merchandise at the front of the store?
You’ll have better luck selling items that Plato’s Closet needs. They want to offer a variety of merchandise to their customers. That means if the racks are filled with shirts they probably aren’t looking to buy more shirts.
Walk around and see which categories and sizes are lacking. Take note of the brands you stumble across the most. Look at the sales price for different items within a category to get a better understanding of how much money you might be able to make on your items.
Be strategic: sell what they need.
My Recent Experience Selling at Plato’s Closet
Over the weekend I took a bag of 23 clothing items to my local Plato’s Closet to see how much money I could make. In total, they offered me $30.55 for 9 items. I bought one item so I walked out of the store with $27.85 cash in hand. That means on average I earned $3.09 for every item I sold.
My highest selling item was a Zara dress which Plato’s paid me $7.20 for. What’s cool about this dress is that I bought it new with tags back in October to wear to a wedding.
It was originally priced for $12 but because I also did a trade-in when I bought it, I got a 10 percent discount, bringing the actual price down to a little more than $10. I wore it once and resold it back to the same Plato’s Closet I originally bought it from. Basically, I rented this dress for less than $4.
The other items I sold were sourced from different trips I made to the Goodwill bins. Because you pay for items by the pound at Goodwill bins, I paid less than $1 per item. At this point, I’ve already recuperated my costs by selling other items on eBay so anything I sold to Plato’s Closet was 100 percent profit.
I’ve been to some Plato’s Closet locations that are a bit pickier but overall I’ve never had a bad experience. I read comments of people feeling like they are scammed by the buyers but it’s all relative to the perception of value. Just remember buying a Michael Kors shirt for $100 at TJ Maxx doesn’t mean it’s worth $100.
Ways to Make Money Selling Used Clothes at Plato’s Closet
As you can see from my experience, you can make quick cash selling used clothes at Plato’s Closet. You can declutter your own closet or if you’re a reseller, you can incorporate Plato’s Closet into your sourcing strategy to reduce your inventory costs. These are a few strategies you can adopt to get the most money selling used clothes at Plato’s Closet.
Get Clothes for Cheap
If your goal is to make a profit at Plato’s Closet you are going to need to find cheap inventory. The best way to do this is to buy used clothes from the Goodwill bins. When I source at the bins I look for items that I know Plato’s will buy.
Even though I won’t make a ton of money at Plato’s this helps reduce my per item cost. The Goodwill bins charge by the pound so the more items you buy, the better price you’re going to get. On average I spend about $0.75 per item I source so whether I sell the item on eBay or at Plato’s, I’m still coming out ahead.
Another great place to find clothes for cheap is at yard sales. More often than not yard sales will run a bag sale towards the end of the day just to get rid of stuff. You’ll typically find mall brand items at yard sales which means these can be great places to find the type of inventory Plato’s is looking to buy.
Last but not least you can start a donation service. Spoiler alert: those big metal donation bins you in parking lots don’t actually go to charity. Random people buy them and put them there to get free stuff. The downside of hauling or collecting donations on behalf of people is that you’ll have to take what they give you, regardless of whether or not you can sell it. On the plus side, it is free and you are providing a service so you can sort through the items and determine what you can sell and what you can’t.
Know Your Numbers
As I said above, sell what Plato’s wants to buy, not what you want to sell. This means doing some research to understand how you can meet their inventory needs and what your profitability looks like.
Plato’s Closet typically pays out 30 percent of what they sell an item for on the floor. If they sell a shirt for $8 they’ll pay you $2 and some change. Walking through the store you will notice they have a lot of shirts selling for $8. That means to make a profit, you’ll not only have to compete with all the other shirts on the rack but you’ll have to sell in volume too.
Look for brands, styles, and categories that sell at a higher price point. The Zara dress I sold for $7.20 is a good example of this. Dresses typically sell for $15+ which means I will make double the money on a dress compared to a t-shirt. If I source in bulk from the Goodwill bins, my buy cost is relatively the same, making the dress a better flip.
Go to Different Stores
Plato’s Closet is actually a franchise which means some Plato’s are operated differently than others. There are about 6 different locations within a 90-mile radius of where I live. If I’m planning on sourcing in a neighboring town I’ll take my Plato’s bag with me to try to offload items at a different store.
Location matters because the demand for certain items will vary depending on where you live. The closest Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, and lululemon are all more than an hour away from me. Those brands are popular but hard to get new which means my local Plato’s is going to pay top dollar for those items. If you live somewhere where those brands are easy to find your Plato’s might be more selective on the inventory they buy.
Can You Actually Make Money Selling Clothes at Plato’s Closet?
You can definitely make money at Plato’s Closet but I wouldn’t use it as your primary income stream to pay rent. While you can study the store and understand the shopper’s behaviors, it can still be an unpredictable experience. Most of the buyers are teenagers or college kids and some are pickier than others. Because pricing can be location-dependent some payouts can vary from store to store. Selling clothes at Plato’s Closet can be profitable but for these reasons, it can also be inconsistent.
If you are already reselling clothes on eBay, Poshmark, or Depop consider adding Plato’s Closet to supplement your income. This can help you bring your inventory costs down by allowing you to buy things you might not ordinarily buy and it can be an easy way to offload stale inventory.
Selling clothes at Plato’s Closet is also an easy side hustle for students to get into. If you go to school near Goodwill bins spend a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon sourcing clothes. Flip your items at Plato’s for grocery money, coffee money, or beer money. (Seriously I wish I had thought of this when I was in college).
And if you want to really level up your game, you can use the cash you generate from selling clothes at Plato’s Closet to invest in assets. You can do this with crypto on a platform like Coinbase, deposit your cash into a traditional brokerage account to buy stocks, or look into alternative investments like Pokemon cards or sneakers. This can be a great strategy if you want to start investing but have limited cash flow.
Have you ever sold clothes at Plato’s Closet? What do you think? Share your experience in the comments below.