August 19, 2012

On Plato's Closet, TJ Maxx, and the joy of the internet

Plato's Closet
On Saturday I cleaned out my closet and made two piles, one for Goodwill and one to bring to Plato's Closet to try to sell. This was my first experience with Plato's so I wasn't sure what to expect. If you don't have a Plato's Closet in your area I will briefly explain - they sell "gently used" juniors clothes to girls and guys. They advertise that they sell a lot of Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, and American Eagle, and since I really don't wear the clothes I own from those stores anymore I took it upon myself to especially try to sell those. In addition, I tried to sell my white jeans from Gap (too small for me), my mint jeans from F21 (love my ASOS ones much more) and several party dresses that still had the tags on them (my biggest vice in clothes when I was younger was hoarding party dresses from Sorority semi-formals and formals lol).

Procedure: When you walk into the store you fill out a short information card and certify with your signature that you own the clothes and have the ability to sell them. Depending on how many other people are "in line" to have their clothes evaluated before you, it could take a few minutes. They told me 30 minutes so I had a quick look around the store and then went to Ross next door to kill some time. When I came back, they were done evaluating and they printed out a receipt showing me how much I would get for each item they wanted to buy. I had some questions about why certain items were not bought and they explained each one. There were some people in front of me who I saw the store bought NO clothes from, so I guess I should be happy that they even wanted anything of mine.

The verdict at Plato's? They wanted to buy 10 of my items... for a total of $38. The receipt below:
I was obviously surprised at how low the offers were on every item. Take the Free People tank for example - that is a designer brand (more so than Abercrombie, for example) and they offered me the same price for that shirt as one from Hollister. That makes no sense to me.

Items they didn't want that I was surprised about: the white and mint jeans (they claimed they were looking for fall clothes and these were too "spring and summer") My response (in my head) was that this is Miami of all places and I will surely continue to wear these jeans year round despite the color, so WTF? They also weren't taking skirts because they had too much inventory. They also didn't take any of my Abercrombie kids tops in XL because they "dont sell kids clothes." I mean, I get that you don't sell kids clothes, but in XL? Those will definitely fit women/juniors who are size XS or S - obviously, they fit me! Whatever.

So in short, I came home with most of my clothes, and I will probably be donating all of them to Goodwill soon. I decided to keep the Express dress (last on the receipt) because it still had the tags on it and I think I might be able to make it work for me for this Fall and Winter - and if I can't, well, then I'll sell it for real next time.

Lessons I learned:
1. Marks and stains: anything with a slight mark or stain (according to them) will be rejected.
2. Seasonal stocking of clothes: They stock the store seasonally, so be prepared for them to reject clothes that seem to identify with another season.
3. Kids clothes: they don't take them, no matter what
4. Shoes: my store was in desperate need of shoes, so take this as an opportunity to get rid of those pumps that you never wear because they are super uncomfortable.
5. Accessories: almost all accessories at the store are priced at $4 - cheaper than F21, and a LOT of choices! I might come back to sell some of my accessories that I never wear from F21 - but I expect to make only pennies off the transaction. IMO - better than having them sit around my jewelry box taking up space for new stuff.
6. Remember there is Ebay if you are too attached to an item to let it go for pennies: No matter how expensive an item was when you bought it, they have certain set prices for everything. I asked them about my Levi's leather jacket and they said if I brought it in and it was in excellent condition I would get $8.80 for it. For a leather jacket that has been worn less than 10 times. That is just unacceptable for me, so if I decide I want to sell it this season, you can bet I will try a blog sale, ebay, or the Alteration's Needed forum first.

TJ Maxx & the Internet
I have a love affair with TJ Maxx - most of the time. I usually find great deals on shoes and handbags, but their clothes are a little "eh" for me unless they have a Runway department. I was mortified to find out that the TJ Maxx near my apartment got rid of their Runway dept! Anyway - armed with my $30 from Plato's closet, I decided to go to TJ Maxx.

Every time I find something that I like at TJ's, I have to immediately look it up online and see if it really is the best price available. TJ's only advertises that their stuff is up to 60% off department store prices - and honestly, being a bargain shopper, that is NOT that good! I can usually find stuff at 70 to 90% off on clearance racks at name brand stores, at discount stores like Nordstrom Rack and Loehmann's, and by using coupons online.

The point of this post is that having a smart phone these days can really come in handy if you are really out looking for the best deal possible. For example, yesterday at TJ Maxx I came across two Rebecca Minkoff Covet bags (in black and brown) priced at $249. I was contemplating purchasing the black one because of my recent decision that I wanted to get a bag that looks like a briefcase, and the Covet bag was marked to 1/2 the price of the Loeffler Randall one that I love. Anyway, I quickly checked the internet, and $250 is NOT the best price for these bags. Amazon currently has both Black and Brown in stock with Prime shipping for $202 and $212 respectively.

Rebecca Minkoff Covet Bag ($202 - Black)
I decided to pass on the Covet bag and contemplate it more via Amazon now that I've seen it in person. It is really a cute bag in person, but it is probably only large enough to carry something the size of an Ipad. It would not be big enough for carrying papers or files. 

Another reason I love TJ Maxx is because when you shop with an open mind (like I try to) it can introduce you to brands that you have never heard of before. I do consider myself somewhat of a "brand snob" but there are times I'm willing to overlook an unknown brand for style and price purposes. Two of my purchases at TJ's demonstrate this theory:

1. Big Buddah Prep Tote in Brown
TJ Maxx Price: $39.99
Buy at Amazon: $84-$94 (depending on color)
Buy at Zappos: $60-94 (depending on color)
This bag came in all sorts of colors. It's large enough to carry files and the faux leather looks great and feels durable. I thought the chain detailing made the bag look more expensive. Basically, I love this bag and am going to be bringing it to work often! (I'm still on the hunt for a black briefcase looking bag however).

2. Ellen Tracy June sandals
TJ Maxx Price: $28 on clearance
My inspiration: Cole Haan Air Catalina - $52-92 at
Similar by Michael Kors in Metallic and Black - $595
Similar by Tibi in Metallic and Black - $240
As soon as I saw these shoes, I knew I had to have them. For one, I'm always on the lookout for new sandals because I change between my $6 Loft ones and a few other pairs almost every day, so these shoes tend to get worn out quickly. In addition to the style and price being right, they also added something to my wardrobe that I don't yet have - red. I literally have 1 item in my closet that is red right now and I think a small stripe on my shoe is a good way to get used to the color.

Final thoughts: TJ Maxx can have some great finds, but if you are concerned about getting the best deal possible, always check the internet before making your purchase. If I hadn't checked the internet, I might have walked away with a $250 bag that, with a coupon and a gift certificate, I could have gotten for $110. TJ's is also a great place to try lesser known brands for a good price. If you can overlook the name, you might find a style that you really enjoy. 


  1. AdventuresinDressmakingSeptember 11, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    Wow, good for you for writing such a thorough post!! I've tried to sell things at Plato's Closet and Buffalo Exchange before and they are very picky. I've had better luck selling at small, local non-chain resale shops, so if there are any of those in your area give that a shot! It's also usually a better value to get trade-in value instead of cash--that is, if you can spend your credit there on stuff you like.

    That leather jacket is amazing and totally worth more than $8.80!!!! Those losers. If you're interested in selling it, I might want to buy!! Send me an email! Find my email address on my blog, =)

  2. Lol, thank you for appreciating the thoroughness! I figured I had no idea what to expect going into this and hoped somebody might benefit from learning about the process. Thanks for your comment!

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