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Turn Your Closet Clutter Into Cash: Which Resale Method Is Best for You?

Clutter in your closet could be money in your pocketWe've all done it at one time or another: overspent on a sexy pair of high heels that are too uncomfortable to wear for more than five minutes, or held on to an armful of designer handbags, unable to part with the "investment" even though all they're doing is gathering dust.

If you're bemoaning your lack of cash and your lack of closet space, try solving both problems in one fell swoop.

How much can you get for those Manolos? What's the best way to turn your lightly loved dresses into dollars? It depends on how much time and effort you're willing to put into clearing out the closets.

Depending on your personality, you may want to choose to sell your goods online, take them to a consignment store, or relegate the work to someone else. Here's how to find the best fit for selling your used duds.

Savings Experiment: Selling Your Junk

If You Love Social Media, Try Copious.com: Since its launch in January 2012, Copious, an online marketplace where individuals can buy and sell clothing and accessories, has become a popular site among style mavens. You can post photos and a description of clothing on your own page and share them with followers on Facebook and Twitter. When someone "likes" an item, notifications are sent back to the person who posted the item, followers of the person who "likes" it, and to all the social media connections of both individuals.

You can sell new and used items, things you've bought or inherited, and items you've created yourself.

• Pros: Free to post any item and simple to create your own page. Best for people who already have plenty of social media experience and can tie in their marketing to other sites.

• Cons: There's a 3.5 percent transaction fee when your item sells plus a 6 percent fee paid by the buyer when they make a purchase. Some sellers offer to pay that 6 percent fee to encourage more sales.

If You Hate to Share Your Profits, Try Craigslist.org: The granddaddy of online sites for finding for anything from an apartment and a roommate to the furniture for that apartment and the job to pay for it, 60 million U.S. users visit craigslist each month. You can advertise for free on Craigslist, but you do have to update your listing consistently to keep it fresh and near the top of the list of items for sale.

• Pros: Free to post any item, simple to use and has a broad reach.

• Cons: You have to do all the work: Create your ad, vet your buyer, deliver or send your items, and deal with any customer dissatisfaction yourself.

If You Want to Eliminate All Hassles, Try an eBay.com Drop-off Service: eBay (EBAY) offers a variety of choices for sellers, including selling on your own or using an eBay Trading Assistant to pick up your items and sell them for you. While eBay has millions of visitors each day and plenty of tips for selling on their site, you may not want to invest the time to hold an auction, check on bids and answer questions from customers. A Trading Assistant -- or drop-off service -- can save you time, but it won't save you money. In addition to the fees you must pay eBay, a Trade Assistant or eBay drop-off business will also charge you a fee.

Pros: Reach millions of potential buyers. If you use a Trade Assistant or drop-off site, all the work is done for you.

Cons: Your first 50 items can be listed for free each month, but you will have to pay a final value fee of 5 percent to 13 percent of the value of your item based on a sliding scale and the nature of what you're selling. For clothes, it's 10 percent up to $50, and then $5 on the first $50 and 8 percent of the remaining value up to $1,000. A Trading Assistant will charge you an additional fee, and usually requires a minimum of $100 in goods to sell.

If You Love Marketing and Have Unusual Items to Sell, Try Etsy.com: Etsy.com, a favorite of collectors of vintage clothing and accessories, crafters, and newbie clothing designers, has 15 million buyers and businesses. You can leverage connections with others by creating groups of people who can see your favorites and "favorite" them to share with their connections. Sellers are responsible for marketing, accepting payments, shipping items, and dealing with any customer dissatisfaction.

Etsy doesn't charge a member fee and only charges 20 cents per item for four months or until the item sells. If you have unusual items to sell, you're in good company, since etsy has a reputation for selling interesting and unique items.

Cons: In addition to dealing with the hassle factor of marketing (posting photos and writing descriptions) and customer service, you'll pay a transaction fee of 3.5 percent per item you sell.

If You Can Handle Rejection, Try Your Local Consignment Store: Most consignment stores don't actually buy your used or vintage clothing and accessories outright; they just provide a marketplace for potential buyers. If your consigned items don't sell within a particular time frame, the price is often marked down; if it still doesn't find a buyer, eventually you'll need to pick up the item or allow the store to donate it.

Pros: The marketing is handled by someone else. All you have to do is drop off your item during the hours when the shop is accepting consignments.

Cons: Although most consignment stores will ask you what you paid for the item, they retain the right to price your item at whatever amount they think the market will bear. There's also no guarantee that the store will accept all -- or any -- of the items you bring in to sell. One man's treasure is another's tacky reject. You also pay to avoid the hassle of selling your own stuff: Consignment stores typically take a big cut of the sales price -- anywhere from 35 percent to 50 percent. Before you opt to consign anything, find out the fee and terms since they vary by store.

Michele Lerner is a contributing writer to The Motley Fool. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend eBay.


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