Lately I’m finding a lot of nice purses when I’m out thrifting…and that’s fine with me. They’re useful, attractive and most women (and some men) carry a purse/handbag/tote/messenger bag and usually own more than one. Best of all, they sell!
My neighborhood thrift store has two big display racks full and some “better” purses in a locked cabinet. I rarely bother with the locked cabinet where they go a bit goofy on pricing, but I do check the racks.
To be honest the majority of the purses on any given visit are not worth reselling. Most are low-end or faux leather or have egregious damage. But I always look because sometimes I find gold in the dross.
Some of my recent “gold”…
Here’s a deliciously soft Eileen Fisher drawstring purse and a fun Bruce Mahkowsky with chain handles and big lock.
And of course, here’s my lovely Kate Spade Grey Street Cooper bag.
Here’s what I look for:
- Quality of materials including hardware
- Appealing or classic design
I’ll buy a purse without a designer label, but I’ll pay more for designers or brands that I know sell well–Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Kate Spade, etc. I don’t find the high-end designers–Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Prada, etc.–which is probably just as well as I wouldn’t trust my judgment in determining if they were fake or not. And of course there are tons of designers out there that I’m not familiar with so a quick in-store search is worth the time.
I look for leather that is soft and substantial. (I choose not buy faux leather.) I also look at the hardware. Do the zippers, buckles and closures work well?
I particularly check the bottom, edges, handles for wear. Leather that is a little scratched or worn can be polished or conditioned to bring it back to life. Here’s a Pierre Cardin messenger/tablet bag I bought yesterday. The leather was thick and soft, but lightly scuffed on the bottom corners.
But I was sure a little black polish would make this look like new…and it did!
This unisex bag (with adjustable strap) has a clean, modern look and should sell quickly.
But certain types of wear are deal breakers. For example, I found a Dooney & Bourke purse but the leather was worn through on part of the piping along the bottom! Yikes! Ideally needlepoint and beaded purses shouldn’t be missing stitches or beads. I don’t buy purses with stains or funky smells unless I’m confident I can fix them.
On a subjective level, do I think the purse design is appealing? I won’t sell a purse I think is hideous or is poorly designed!
And last, but not least, I look at the price. Does the price leave room for a reasonable profit? “Reasonable profit” means different things for different people. For me, I generally look to make $30-$80 profit per purse–enough to make it worth my while but still give the buyer a good deal. Sometimes I make less, sometimes a little more. I will pay up for a purse if I think the profit’s there. For example, I paid $21 for this leather Jack Spade computer bag. It sold for $99.99.
Though I am not a fashionista or a purse expert, I am enjoying selling in this niche. I have eight or so to list this weekend! (Most will end up on eBay as they are not “old enough” to put in my Etsy store. I am toying with the idea of starting a Poshmark store, but not sure given amount of social time needed to promote your closet and connect with other sellers. Thoughts??)
As always, happy hunting,
PS. A word of caution. There are a lot of fakes in the market and they are illegal to sell.