Our homes are filled with stuff that we don’t need anymore, but a lot of our things are too big – or too valuable – to sell at a garage sale or online. That’s where Dawn Librach comes in. She spends a lot of time in other people’s closets looking for Chanel, Dior or Oscar de la Renta items to sell in her Toronto store, Rewind Couture.
She’s developed relationships with some of the owners of North America’s fanciest closets, and is often the first person they call when it’s time to get rid of those barely used dresses and bags. “A lot of people throw [their stuff] away, but they can get some money for their clothing,” she says. “Then they can donate the proceeds to charity.”
Canada’s second-hand economy is worth $28 billion. While that includes all items for sale, including things you might see on eBay, Facebook or Craigslist, it also covers goods sold in estate sales, or by people who have made a business out of selling items that may be harder to dispose of.
According to online selling site Kijiji, Canada’s second-hand economy is worth $28 billion. While that includes all items for sale, including things you might see on eBay, Facebook or Craigslist, it also covers goods sold in estate sales, or by people like Librach who have made a business out of selling items that may be harder to dispose of.
Aya McMillan called Librach when she was cleaning out her closet. She had Celine, Burberry, Chanel (Librach says Chanel retains a lot of value in the second-hand economy), McQueen and Hermès clothing and accessories she wanted to sell. “I usually donate non-designer clothes like Zara and H&M, but will always try and sell my designer stuff first before considering whether to let it go,” says McMillan. “Any label purchase will have some resale value, so it’s better to try to at least get something for it.”
For many people, convenience and money are the motivating factors for selling this way. Convenience because someone will pick up that large item and take it to their store; and money because while many of Librach’s clients don’t need the cash, they will give the proceeds to charity and then claim that donation on their taxes.
Those who have larger items, or a lot of goods to get rid of, call Josh Horowitz, the president and founder of Sell My Stuff Canada. He often handles estate sales, but can liquidate the entire contents of a house if need be. He gets calls when people fall ill, there’s a death in the family, someone wants to downsize or if people’s tastes change.
“We sell anything and everything inside their house,” he says. “Furniture, clothing, jewellery, art, china, cars – basically anything that they no longer want or need. We come in and sell it off to the second-hand market.” Horowitz says they can often sell everything in one day, ensuring the owners get their money quickly.
This sort of arrangement is a win-win for buyers and sellers, says McMillan. She can easily get rid of unwanted items, and buyers can get a good deal. “Receiving a cheque the same night I sell my items is great,” she says. “If I had the time or inclination, I could have sold it all myself online and received more money, but I was happy to just be rid of a lot of it.”