How I Made $2,300+ Re-Selling My Kids’ Outgrown Clothes on Facebook BST: Here’s What Happens When You Do a 353 Item Purge
Julie, 31, hunched over her iPad, reading the clothing purge listing. “Here for this,” she typed. “I have been desperate to find that Boden dress one size up.”
“Oh my God,” posted Mariah, age 39. “I’m skipping the gym tonight. I can’t miss this!”
A steady chorus of coffee and Chardonnay laced enthusiasm swept across the comments. Their thrill, scoffable to outsiders, was palpable.
I had just momvertised an epic, record-breaking purge in a local Buy Sell Trade (BST) group on Facebook. Over 350 name-brand, high-end kids’ clothing items for sale in varying degrees of pre-loved condition.
Welcome to the Super Bowl of online shopping.
My 353 Item Hoard
I had 353 items to get rid of. On Craig’s List or eBay, or Facebook Marketplace, I’d have to create and manage 353 individual listings. No thanks.
But with a BST purge, you can create one single listing (Facebook post) to unload everything that you’ve binged.
And purges are a meticulous affair that can require hours (if not days) of pre-planning.
For my Facebook purge, I created one single post outlining what I had to purge (300+ kids clothes items in such and such brands and sizes) and when I would list them (Monday, 8:30pm CST. Tag your group friends.)
At go-time, I listed my purge offerings one by one.
- Each comment was one picture featuring one item. By the time I was done listing all my items (and adding close-up pics and responding to questions), my post thread was over 1,000 comments deep.
- I listed everything: outgrown clothes, right-size for wrong-season clothes, wrong-size for right-season clothes. For when your kid reaches snow pant size in mid-August, and Bermuda short size in December.
- Modest flotillas of goods acquired at Once Upon a Child or through Swagbucks. I look for the sales and cash back rebate offers on Hanna Andersson, Mini Boden, Zulily, Nordstrom Rack, Janie & Jack, and other popular clothing sites.
If I see a sweater for $6.50, and it’s a name-brand with good resale value I’ll snag it. We can wear it, wash it, love it — and hopefully not stain it beyond redemption. And then give it a new home — for a modest re-homing fee of $6.51.
The Purge Set Up
By last March, I was overwhelmed. My lovely matching seagrass baskets were exploding clothes. I had 3 days off for a PTO staycation. I planned to use day 1 to do the purge: list, sell, and package everything.
For my 353 item purge, I took pictures in advance of everything. I took close ups of size tags and flaws. I was determined to not lose momentum (again) midway through. No stopping to dig through storage bins for a $5 tee, only to squint-read its faded material tag. And then console Potential Buyer that sadly, the cotton T-shirt, while organic-looking, is in fact of unknown biological provenance.
I planned the purge for every contingency in advance, so it would go smoothly and be fully executable within 8 hours. Maybe 10 hours tops. The purge exhausted every moment of my 3-day vacation.
The Purge’s Live Unfolding
It took over 5 hours to post every single pic. It was nearly 2 o’clock in the morning when I finished, as pings came in from eager moms asking “Can I come this morning at 7 am to pick up my stuff?”
I should have known better.
353 items, at 45 seconds per post (to post an item and a descriptive sentence or two), would take 4 hours and 5 minutes under perfect conditions.
The Purge Aftermath: What I Sold & For How Much
Here are all the juicy bits.
- I listed 353 items, ranging in price from $2.00 to $45.00, and a number of free-with-purchase freebies.
- Embarrassment is priceless. The kind that comes from hundreds of women rejecting your “FREE” items that you just want out of your house. (Reasonably good-looking, in my estimation. Just not name brand.)
- I sold 233 of the 353 items I listed. 43% of the sales came in the same evening I listed everything. 35% of the sales came over the next 2 days. The remaining 22% were a slow and steady trickle over the rest of the week until I turned off post comments (shopping).
- Most of the used items were listed for one-third of its cost brand new. (So a dress that would typically go for $54 could fetch as much as $18 if it’s a sought-after brand in good condition and a trendy style. In some instances more.)
- Hanna Andersson, Mini Boden, Childhoods Clothing, and Rylee + Cru seem to have the best resale value (relative to original purchase price). Gap, Gymboree, and Target brands are dimes on dollar. The occasional coveted Art Class (Target) item can do much better.
- Tea Collection, L’ovedbaby, Kate Quinn, Bobo Choses, Kidwild, and a number of other designers can have mixed results, depending on how coveted the piece and how well known the brand. European, Southern Californian, Northern Californian (with the two Californian aesthetics not to be confused), Organic, Local, or Independent are de rigueur.
- I made $2,353 from selling all the items I listed. (Had I just shipped everything off to ThredUp or another consignment store, I would have made $300 to $400 tops.)
- The average price per item sold was $10.10
- I sold these 233 pieces to 57 different unique buyers.
- My average sales transaction per buyer was a little over $41.
- 42% of buyers wanted their items shipped (at a cost of $4 for first item and $1 each additional. My advertised shipping rates covered costs in full for every order, except for a couple where I had to eat a decent chunk).
- 58% of buyers wanted to pick up — even if it meant driving 20 miles or more to pick up their order in a polymailer at my doorstep.
- 100% of the buyers paid me. EVERYONE who said they were interested in my item followed through.
- 7% of buyers made a purchase using a friend or family member’s account (because they had been booted from the group previously for not following the rules).
- I used one massive spreadsheet to keep it all organized.
I Gained a New Appreciation for Amazon
I took the day after the purge to assemble everyone’s orders and gained a new appreciation for Amazon. Order fulfillment logistics, at scale, are really hard.
I had two versions of print-outs for everyone’s order — one version organized by size (so I knew which bin to rifle through) and the other organized by buyer’s name.
And yet I encountered issue after issue:
- It took over 3 hours of typing (at 80 words per minute) to log everyone’s claims into a spreadsheet. Granted, there were a couple of leg stretches thrown in. But there is no way I could have done this with just pen and paper, or even a Word doc.
- My item descriptions in the spreadsheet weren’t detailed enough. (Jennifer F, Molly G, and Hannah I all bought a pink dress NWT size 2. Time to go downstairs and sort through over 1,200 comments to figure this out.)
- A couple of the items I had listed were missing. They were not in the purge bins (that I kept tearing and re-tearing apart). They were in my son’s dresser or in the laundry machine
- On occasion, I mixed up orders. I accidentally put the wrong garment in someone else’s bag.
- At my lowest point, I was drenched in sweat as I unsealed and rifled through over 60 polymailer bags (for the second time that day) looking for a missing onesie.
- Buyers added on extra items. A good problem. But buyers generally want to (re)play The Price Is Right with each additional add-on. This becomes confusing to manage.
- Buyers advising me that they would be sending a friend, spouse, or other designated emissary to pick up their claims. (Which I thought merited additional signage that was conspicuous, yet discreet. “GRAB ME, STEVE!!! HERE!!! But please don’t steal me if you’re not Carol F’s Steve.”)
- Buyers wanting to bundle their purchases together for shipping. That required unsealing and re-sealing bags several times.
- Buyers changing their mind on delivery method. Some weren’t quite sure if they wanted to pick up their items. Or have them shipped. Or maybe I could drive it to their house and they would pay me a couple bucks for gas. (They lived way too far away for them to come pick up their items. Yet if I could drop them off, because they lived super close, that would be awesome.)
- Buyers wanting to use a different payment method. (Finding a method that we could both use, and maintain a contact-less pickup.)
Face-value, not a single post-purge issue or request was unreasonable. Yet the sheer volume of one-off requests that slowed things down. I had 93 different one-off requests that took an average of 3.75 minutes to sort out or respond to, totaling 348.75 minutes.
Bottom Line: Can you really “make money” off of Facebook Mega Purges?
Not really. You have to love the “game” of the purge, and have highly coveted things, for a big one to be worth your time.
If you’re just purging GAP and Gymboree, a 55-item purge could take 10 hours and yield $60. Or less. Or for an hour of your time, you could bring your goods to Once Upon A Child and pocket forty bucks or so.
What Makes Doing a BST Purge Worth Your Time?
You have to have high-end items to sell. By high-end, I mean Childhoods Clothing, Stella McCartney, Mini Rodini, and Mini Boden. While Old Navy, Kohl’s, and GAP are popular retailers with super cute clothes, these brands oversaturate the market. (Visit any Once Upon A Child and you’ll see what I mean.) You need to have rarer pieces that drive buyer interest.
You have at least a few dozen high-end items to sell. With many purges, only about a quarter of the items will sell. List 40 items, selling 10 items for $80 would be typical. (For several hours of work.) Listing 20 items may not be worth the time and planning. Additionally, larger purges draw more notice. These posts will get more views and more engagement. Smaller purge posts get buried.
You are an experienced shipper. You’ll need a kitchen scale, printer, and shipping supplies so you can avoid the post office. You can use services like PayPal or Pirate Ship to weigh items and pay for and print shipping labels from home.
You’re willing to price some things deliberately low. It’s hard to tempt an onlooker into becoming a buyer. You have to persuade a sleep-deprived mom (who has not put on mascara, or real pants, in weeks) that it’s worth her while to drive across town for one used nightgown. (Or pay $4.00 in shipping for it.) Sprinkling in other well-priced, same-size items is key. Once you convert a buyer (into purchasing at least one item), they are much more likely to purchase a second and third item from you.
You embrace the idea you’re recouping losses, not making money or breaking even. Have I “flipped” clothes and made money? Yes. A dollar here, a few dollars there. I’ve also purchased fifteen dollar dresses that I’ve been able to re-sell for the exact same amount. But these flips and break-evens are the exception, not the norm.
You can cope with will-calls. You’re willing to keep straight dozens of buyers coming to pick up their orders at different times and dates. (And to follow up with no-shows and chronic postponers.) This means coordinating dozens (if not hundreds) of DM’s.
You’re competitive, like me. Competitive might not be the mot juste. While I am competitive, I love the art of The Hustle. There’s a thrill that comes with each newly sold romper or twirly dress — gently worn with a touch of lint and wash wear fade. Bigger purges just “feel” more exciting than smaller ones, and a record-breaking purge is intoxicating.
And finally, a purge is worth your time if you have 1) a specific goal in mind, and 2) a specific plan for what to do with the leftovers. “Decluttering” is not a reasonable or realistic goal. A better purge goal is measurable and specific.
- I will sell enough clothes to be able to neatly organize all the clothing in this dresser and have left one whole empty drawer. I will donate the leftovers to a specific charity, or
- I will sell everything my (potentially) youngest child has outgrown. I will give the leftovers to this specific person (who I know will not be offended).
My goal was to make enough to fund each of my child’s college savings accounts with $1,000. I spent the rest of the funds on new patio chair cushions and an inflatable pool.
I’m going to bask in the afterglow of my 353-item purge for a while (translation: all the days of my BST life) and let my kids’ stash of outgrown clothes continue to grow. Until I happen upon a 354+ item purge.