Business

Making money from your closet

Making money from your closet
A closet display at the Peabody Essex Museum. Photo: AP
Published: 12:45 AM, November 20, 2016
Updated: 2:02 AM, November 20, 2016

When Aloysius Sng took a look at his girlfriend’s closet, he noticed that she didn’t actually wear more than 70 per cent of what she owned. After talking with other female friends and finding the same thing, he went on to found online sales site Refash last year.

Many of us similarly have a closet full of clothes we no longer wear, shelves of books, boxes of gadgets and more sitting around home. While we’re loathe to give then away or sell them in case we might need them “someday”, we can make money by getting rid of them. And with so many easy options for selling, there’s no need to set up your own company.

DECIDING WHAT TO SELL

The first step is to decide to empty out the closet and sell items you no longer use. While the price may be low for old phones or books, slightly used clothes can sell for more than half their retail cost. Money can be a great motivator.

If you still can’t bear to part with those wonderful-looking-yet-long-unworn clothes in the closet, perhaps it’s time to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by best-selling author Marie Kondo. Ms Kondo has turned hoarders’ dilemmas into an art with her book, nearly a bible for people having trouble tidying up their homes. “People are drawn to the philosophy not only due to its effectiveness,” Ms Kondo said, “but also because it places great importance on being mindful, introspective, and optimistic.” Instead of simply disposing of items, you can sell them instead.

SELLING ONLINE

Once you do decide to sell, there are a multitude of online sites that have sprung up where you can sell everything from clothes or furniture to mobile phones or books.

Some sites enable you to sell virtually anything you want in one place. They’ll even help you position and price your items to make sure they sell.

One of the most popular is Carousell, which has a mobile classified app that allows you to take a photo and list anything you want to sell in less than a minute. Carousell, which started up in Singapore in 2012, now has more than 41 million listings in countries around the world.

Other online sellers prefer Gumtree, which was started in 2000 as a London community site to connect people who were planning to move or had just arrived and needed help with accommodation or jobs. It has since expanded to 76 cities in 11 countries and says it is one of the biggest websites for local community classifieds.

Other sites focus on a particular niche and may attract buyers who specifically want clothes, handbags or other items.

While Refash started by focusing on women’s clothes, it has since expanded into designer bags and also offers tips such as “Peek into Fashion Influencers Closet” and the “Ultimate Guide to Shopping Second Hand.” It will even help you figure out how to price your merchandise.

Deluxemall similarly started with one focus, designer handbags, and now offers other fashion items such as shoes as well. From Kate Spade and Prada to Chanel and Gucci, there are plenty of choices.

Reebonz Closets also offers sellers an app that they can use to upload photos of the designer bags, shoes, clothes, watches or other items they want to sell.

If posting your items online seems too difficult, you can turn to the modern version of Karang Guni by calling Karang-guni.com, a one-stop recycling and disposal website. Karang-guni.com takes away the wait for Karang Guni to go through your neighborhood and allows you to book an appointment for them to come to you. While prices might not be as high as doing it yourself, they’re willing to take everything from furniture and fabrics to books and appliances.

If you’re even more traditional and want to sell your goods in person or perhaps haggle a bit on the price, you can take them to a flea market. China Square organises a flea market on Sundays, for example, while Fleawhere organises flea markets in various locations across the island.

DONATE

If money isn’t so important and you still want a clean closet, you can get rid of your used items and do good at the same time. The Salvation Army collects both new and pre-loved items for their social enterprise arm, Red Shield Industries, at its collection centers across the island. The items are sorted and then sold at Family Thrift Stores.

New2U Thrift Shop, started by the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO), similarly accepts donations of clothes and household items and sells them to support Star Shelter or other SCWO initiatives.

MINDS Shop, under the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore, goes even further and provides their intellectually disabled clients with pre-vocational training in retail and customer service skills in the outlets where donated items are sold.

TURNING TRADITION INTO CASH

While it’s traditional to do a thorough year-end cleaning, tradition has often emphasised throwing things away. Rather than turning useable items into trash and increasing waste in the bins, a far better option is to take advantage of the opportunities to sell your goods, help the environment, and pocket some extra cash at the same time.