Wednesday, May 21

Sell My Old Clothes, I'm Off To Heaven.

There's a beautiful sky tonight.

Before we moved into our current home, me and the Missus decided to do a fair amount of Spring cleaning, particularly with our old clothing. It had been about six years since I rooted through my old clothes, and we felt it was necessary to do so before the move, as a way to trim the fat and give Goodwill a hefty donation (and subsequent hefty tax deduction for ourselves).

I learned a few things about myself during that afternoon spent in the basement. Mainly that I used to listen to a lot of terrible bands whom I felt the need to endorse in t-shirt form, and I, for whatever reason, thought I was a size Large when I was 20 (I'm a Small at 26, and I've gained no less than 30 pounds since 2002). When the dust settled, there were 14 garbage bags, stuffed to the hilt, with clothing I no longer had a use for. 14 bags. Enough for some college student to wear a different shirt every day for a year.

Apparently, I was the Vanna White of punk kids. For as anti-establishment and anti-fashion as I thought I was, I clearly spent a lot of time at the mall. I also stumbled across three Hawaiian shirts and two bowling shirts, which are the only two reasons I still remember that Gadzooks (and the brief revival of Swing music) ever existed.

So, now what? We contemplated the various things we could do with the gently-used clothing that would A) Make us a little bit of money, and B) Be as easy as possible to undertake.

Initially, we figured Goodwill was the way to go. It's for a good cause (mainly poor kids and rich kids that want to pretend they're poor), and also, they like to employ people that are far too terrifying to work at Old Navy or The Gap. Oh, and they also have cheap vinyl and most locations smell like Play-Doh. It was a done deal; Goodwill rules, provided I only have to shop there ironically.

The Missus then informed me that we would need to tear through each garbage bag and individually itemize each shirt and if we wanted to get a fair shake concerning our tax deduction. This was an instant deal-breaker for me, as I'm far too busy and care far too little to hand-detail fifteen thousand Mr. T Experience shirts and studded belts. At this point, I honestly just wanted to throw everything away and forget about it. After all, the shirts weren't bringing us any money sitting in the basement; why should I bust my balls to wring some cash out of them now?

The Missus suggested eBay, as we do have a lot of out-of-print band shirts in great condition. Perhaps we could make an absolute killing off of online auction nerds that can't seem to live another day without the Catch-22 shirt I haven't worn since my old band got banned for life from the Blue Moon Coffee House in Neenah, Wisconsin (I think someone was thrown through a table that night). Of course, the work needed to maintain 400 different auctions and ship 400 shirts to 400 different locations seemed like a considerably harder task than the Goodwill schtick I already put the kibosh on. I said no deal, and we continued to brainstorm.

"Hey, what about a garage sale?" Said the Missus, who is very intelligent for the four hours a day that she's been awake this month. "There's a lot of teenagers around here, they might like some of this stuff."

Part of me was all ears. Another part of me thought she was greatly overestimating how much 2008's teenagers would care about the defunct bands of 1999. Show me a 16-year-old girl that's currently obsessed with The Promise Ring or Lifetime, and I'll show you a 26-year-old guy that she might want to stay away from; things just don't work that way. Furthermore, having a garage sale with nice, blank shirts is all-encompassing as far as your demographic goes. Band shirts, however, appeal only to specific people and turn away the rest. It's going to be fairly difficult to sell a Queers shirt to a kid who doesn't know who they are, and who also prefers to come home from school every day without the elastic waistband from his boxer shorts wrapped firmly around his head.

That being said, approximately 65% of the other shirts were indeed ready-made for the rummage table. Fruity-ass sweaters with snowflakes on them. Tees sporting crude sayings that only White Trash still finds funny in this day and age. Denim and plaid by the metric ton (for what it's worth, there was a span of about four years where County Seat was my favorite store). Every one of my phases was on display, here. Perhaps a garage sale wasn't that bad of an idea after all.

I had never operated a rummage sale, and I needed some advice, so I called up one of the most brilliant and seasoned minds available when it came to the art of the garage-stravaganza, my mom.

CDP - "Hey mom, what's up?"

MOM - "Nothing much, just going through all the photo albums and putting banana stickers over your face. Maybe the Chiquita logo will look more like the son I wanted to have."

CDP - "Fair enough. Hey, I'm thinking about having a garage sale."

MOM - "Finally getting rid of all those 80's toys and remnants of your faded youth?"

CDP - "Um...no, I'm hanging onto those for a little while longer. Actually, I'm about to liquidate a lot of old shirts."

MOM - "That's for the best. I always thought you looked a little retarded in those clothes."

CDP - "Why didn't you say anything?"

MOM - "Well, I was operating under the suspicion that you actually were mentally deficient, so I wanted to remain sensitive should Social Services ever pay a visit."

CDP - "I see. Looking out for your firstborn, 'eh?"

MOM - "Yeah, something like that. Look, ask me a question or let me get back to forgetting about you."

CDP - "Sorry, okay. How do I put on a rummage sale?"

MOM - "You put price tags on the shirts, put the shirts on a table and put the table in the garage."

CDP - "Talk slower, I'm taking notes."

MOM - "That's it."

CDP - "Oh, really? Awesome. Hey, just one more thing..."

MOM - "You need to open the garage door, first."

CDP - "Perfect, thanks. Hey, if you weren't busy this weekend, I'd love to-"

MOM - (click)

I thought I'd be ready and willing to rummage it up after talking to my mom, but she only made me doubt the decision even more. Once the neighborhood ghouls made off with my best clothes for next-to-nothing prices, I'd still be left with hundreds of crappy shirts that nobody wants, which will put be back to square one. I needed to find a way to get rid of everything, all at once.

Therefore, I'm putting the question out to you, the CDP Faithful. What should I do with all these clothes? I've given you five options to mull over.

Choice #1. Have a rummage sale and hope for the best.
Workload - Low.
Cash Earned - Minimal.
No More Clothes? - Not Likely.

Choice #2. Spend all Summer monitoring 400 eBay auctions.
Workload - Extremely High.
Cash Earned - Fair To Moderate.
No More Clothes? - Eventually.

Choice #3. Suck it up, individually itemize and stock Goodwill.
Workload - High.
Cash Earned - Decent-Sized Tax Deduction.
No More clothes? - Indeed.

Choice #4. Throw the bags in the Goodwill drop box and speed away.
Workload - Nonexistent.
Cash Earned - Not A Dime.
No More Clothes? - Yup.

Choice #5 - Bonfire keg party.
Workload - None.
Cash Earned - None.
No More Clothes? - A dustpan's worth.

Help a brother out. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

Comments:
I say Ebay 'em. If you don't want to monitor the auctions, you can always open an Ebay store, where all your sales are basically "But It Now!" sales and they have ending dates 1- months away.

Whatever you don't sell, just give to Goodwill. Clothe a very rebellious hobo.
 
You're up rather early today. Or off to bed extremely late; I don't know which. Thanks for the advice; I'll add it to the complicated Excel spreadsheet and algorithm I plan on making later on this evening.

If I ever saw a hobo wearing my clothes, I'd laugh my ass off, then give him everything that was in my pockets.
 
I would suggest a) rummage sale and, then, b) take what's left over to Goodwill. Here's how you do it. You sell everything you can [wish I could rummage through your t-shirts... sounds like great stuff]. Toward the end of the day [early afternoon in garagesaleland], start writing down what's left in a note book. You don't have to be really precise. Just keep a tally of generic categories:
Men's Shirt - |||
Women's Shirt - ||||
Ashtrays - ||

Then at tax time, you get Turbo Tax, enter all that data into their deduction calculator, and marvel at your savings. Thumb your nose at Uncle Sam who's giving you a $3 deduction for your Propaghandi t-shirt.
 
I say you do a little of each. Sell the shirts that you may get the best return from on E-bay, sell the remainder at a garage sale, then whatever is left at that point goes to a charity. It may take a little bit longer, but may be worthwhile. I keep a "charity" box that goes to my son's old pre-school every six months - they do a yard sale twice a year, and the proceeds augment their budget so that they can afford to make repairs and upgrades to the building and equipment. To me it's a better cause than a supposed "not-for-profit" like Goodwill, where they sometimes sell at a ridiculous markup and profits will go back to paying CEO and/or board members salaries.

I've never itemized anything I've given to Goodwill or any other charity for a tax deduction. Have I been missing out on a potential windfall all this time?
 
This hybrid-selling option is intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to all of your newsletters.

Perhaps I can put some of the cooler stuff online, and the rest of the standard stuff can be rummaged and/or donated. Of course, this means that I'll be doing exactly three times the work I wanted to do, but maybe it's for the best. I'd like to see the right people get the clothes.

As far as individual itemization goes, I'll let the Missus sound off on that; she seems to know more about it than I do.
 
A few ideas -

1. Garage sale - When it's getting close to winding down, "everything must go" fire sale. Cut prices in half or more. People will buy absolutely anything if it costs a dollar or less. How do you think I wound up with Ronald Reagan's corpse as a floor lamp?

2. I have an excel spreadsheet that I have set up specifically for itemizing Goodwill donations, from clothing to furniture. I would be happy to email it to you. My ex-wife was good for something, at least.

3. Take out a homeowner's policy, claim the shirts were hand-stitched by Mother Teresa out of unicorn silk, stage a robbery, and make millions.

4. ???????

5. Profit.
 
Husband, I suggested the hybrid idea and you scoffed at me. I'm glad you're on board now. I still think some of those shirts would make a pretty penny on eBay.

JT, we would heart a copy of your excel spreadsheet. Would you email it to me or Ryan? That would be ever so kind :)
 
CDP- I need to be at school at 6:30 for zero-hour gym. It sucks.

Hybrid selling is a great plan. When I sold my beanie babies a few years ago, I sold some on ebay, some at a flea market, and the rest at a collector's convention. It worked out pretty well.

If worse comes to worse, give them away as anniversary/birthday/get well soon gifts to your friends.

"Oh, you have cancer? Maybe my Clash shirt will cheer you up!"
 
JT - That would be rad if you could e-mail that spreadsheet to the Missus. I'd rather not see it, as I don't want to end up being the one that does the itemizing. I'm a bastard that way; thanks much in advance.

HATHERY - I suppose our basement is big enough to just bring all the clothes over to the house, rifle through them and form a plan of action. I just don't want to have to do anything with them for at least a few weeks, until we have the house the way we want it. What a awful Summer project this is gonna be.

CIZZLE GIZZLE - School at 6:30am? Gym at 6:30am? Where do you go to school? Jail?

Now that people are so behind it, I'm actually starting to get excited about this multi-tiered-hybrid t-shirt selling plan. Maybe it'll be for the best. I can sell some niche stuff online, some standard fare to the neighbors, and the rest can go to the bums.

"Hey, remember that shirt I stole from you that one night? Well, here it is! Happy Birthday!"
 
My washing machine is going to be very busy getting all this stuff in a presentable fashion for a rummage/auction.
 
What a perfect way to spend our wedding Anniversary.
 
Maybe we can do something fun for our anniversary if we make some money selling stuff. HMM?
 
There's no way we'd be able to sell all of that crap before our anniversary, but hey, it's a deal.
 
Do NOT make bets that I can totally win.
 
"If worse comes to worst, we're screwed."
 
I vote Goodwill, and itemize. Do a trashbag at a time and it'll be a lot easier. And then, you get money.

Because remember, whatever cash you make off eBay, they'll tax. So that's a lot of work and then you lose money.

I'd show you some graph where I plot effort spent against money gained, but well... I'm lazy, and no one at work gave me a MATLAB license.
 
Taxes, eh? That gives me much to think about.

I vote rummage and the leftovers to Goodwill.

Maybe I'll research first and see if any of our shirts are going for top dollar on ebay..
 
Research first, and if it's decided that we don't have anything that's worth above and beyond what a typical shirt should cost, we might as well itemize and Goodwill it. It was our first decision, and since we're bringing the clothes over to the new house anyway, we might as well do what we initially planned to do.
 
I think I remember that Catch22 t-shirt. But I do know for sure I remember Aaron Hall's N'SUCK T-shirt.
Anywhooo....those bad boys are your memories. I saw someone who had a quilt made out of their favorite free 5K Tee's from the 1980's, they were never going to wear them, but they were a cool memory. Being such a music junkie, I think you should keep your most obscure/fave and get a quilt made out of them!
 
I have a great plan: Invite me to be a part of your hiptastic rummage sale (back east we called them tag sales, which I think has a much more bohemian ring to it). That way I can get rid of all my cool clothes that fit before I had a child and some cool other stuff that I have (naked lady lamp anyone?) AND I will be able to help you immensely with tallying and tagging and stuff. Deal?
 
Make a quilt. I saw it on a sitcom once.

I do a lot of things sitcoms do. Thats why I adopted Emmanuel Lewis.
 
Exact same reason I chose to harbor ALF...although it turned out I was just stoned, and it was a possum.
 
TAMMY - My shirts were always cooler, albeit in a sad way. I've kept a few of my favorites, but the rest have to go. I pretty much hated the dude I was when I wore them.

SWOONIE - I think that sounds like a great idea. I'm already getting Ben and Sherry to throw some stuff into the mix, so the more, the merrier. Once we figure out the logistics behind this, I'll definitely keep you in the loop.

CAVEMAN - I made a sitcom quilt. It was of poor quality.

JT - I just watched the opening credits to ALF today, and in retrospect, I cannot believe that was a network comedy. It looks so insanely stupid, it simply had to be satirical.
 
I don't know what to do but I love when your mom makes an appearance on your blog. Tell her to guest post. I hope she's really that awesome in real life.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Dude, most often St. Vinnie's just signs the donation form (or whatever they have to do) and lets you fill out the rest for yourself. Think of all the happy ironic hipsters!
 
Do the work, and give them to a homeless shelter instead of Goodwill -- they need it more.

And I think TheCDP will enjoy this post, and others here as well:
http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/08/0508/051908.html
 
DOM - She's just so damn nice, that I think it's exceedingly funny when she's portrayed as a hateful and selfish person towards her kids. Furthermore, she's not funny enough to come up with the banana sticker joke on a whim like that.

NICOLE - I'll have the Missus look into St. Vinnie's, too. Maybe they'll be cooler about it.

HOSS - You know, I almost forgot that there are other places that need clothes besides Goodwill. It currently looks like we're going to kick things off with the garage sale in mid-June, but the remainder of the clothes will go to some sort of charity afterwards.

Nice Lileks essay; I've always liked that guy, all the way back when he did a write-up of The Gobbler.
 
I really think a hipster garage sale would be a good time. The remainders can be donated, but I've never had a real-life garage sale and I think I'd like to see some people dig through my stuff and ooh and aaah at it. I really do have some nice stuff. I bet Swoonie does too.
 
Bear in mind, however, that all we really have to sell to the masses are clothes. I'd rather not wake up on a Saturday morning to see my Atari 2600 sitting next to the mailbox.
 
Honestly, most people prefer rummages with clothing. That's mostly what they're looking for.

I think Sherry & ben may have some kitcheny type gadgets. We could sell a cat or two.
 
This would be a lot easier if we just sold the entire house with everything inside of it. Start fresh.
 
I couldn't even bare the concept of leaving my old clothes. One day I'll simply burn them all, and sprinkle their ashes into the wind. While Don't Stop Believin' plays in the background.

I happen to be heading off to New York tomorrow, for a spiffing holiday with me old man. If anyone has any reccomendations, I would love to hear them. I haven't been to America for a long time, and my random internet buddies are my only decent link.

Cheerio.
 
Caveman lives in Maine, Kevin Palmer lives in Buffalo (I think) and Cargirl frequently makes trips to NYC. Perhaps they can sound off and give you some tips.

I've never been, sadly.
 
Keep in mind, Goodwil isn't just a thrift store. They do serve a greater purpose as well. The money they make goes into programs for providing jobs and job training to those with disabilities or other special needs.
 
True 'dat, JT. These stupid shirts will be the death of me.
 
i would say a combination of things might work well...

Put the few shirts that you KNOW will sell on Ebay - less auctions to monitor

Since you'll be in the bags grabbing the Ebay shirts already, you could sort into piles you know will never sell anywhere, and piles of decent shirts that might actually sell in a store. Then throw the 'never sells' in a bag and dump it at Goodwill and speed away... now hopefully, after all that you'll have about 30 or so Shirts for Auction, a couple of 'never sell' bags, and then the pile left to sort and itemize should be smaller.

??
 
That's probably what the Missus intends to do once we dig through these clothes.

The initial goal for me was to do something that required the smallest amount of effort possible, and that has since been more or less discarded completely.

Thanks for the comment, Diva. Don't be a stranger!
 
Duff- I say go see a show. There are a lot of great ones out now (Spamalot, Avenue Q, Boeing Boeing. To name a few). But you don't have to take my word for it, I'm uncomfortably in love with musical theater for a heterosexual male.

If all else fails go to a taping of Conan or Letterman. You guys get Conan and Letterman, right?
 
If I knew who Conan and Lettermen were, I'm positive I would love them. Thanks all the same.

Talk to you guys soon.
 
If I knew who Conan and Lettermen were, I'm positive I would love them. Thanks all the same.

Cutest. Comment. Ever.
 
I can't believe that there's a dude on the planet that doesn't know who David Letterman is.

That being said, if a Mexican guy wanted to discuss Sabado Gigante! with me, I wouldn't have too much to say, either, even though I sometimes watch it when I'm drunk.
 
"I can't believe that there's a dude on the planet that doesn't know who David Letterman is."

I can't believe there's a 26-year-old living in Wisconsin who's never been to NY. Zing.


Carrot - Check out Harlem and Coney Island at night. Glorious sight-seeing can be had by all.

Conan tickets are really tough to get for the day of the show. Maybe check out a Yankee/Met game?
 
Know what else is a hot hipster rummage sale commodity? Kid stuff. Of which I've got plenty. Also some kitchenware, a few chairs, a shelf or two-- I can definitely give it that "useful things" flavor.
 
You should do EBAY! All the work is worth it in $$ at the end. Whatever doesn't sell, dump in a box and give to charity.
 
Swoonie, you will make this sale a wonderful reality! And we have loads of kids in our neighborhood, so the stuff would sell like hotcakes no doubt.
 

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