Imagine that you’re digging through your overcrowded closet and start to pull out old t-shirts from the bottom of your dresser. “Why do I still have these?” you may think to yourself as you pull out shirt after shirt.
After all, you don’t wear the college shirt you got freshman year, or the shirt from that Disney vacation 5 years ago, or the shirt from that Hard Rock Cafe in Europe. After reminiscing for a few minutes, you then decide that you’re going to declutter your room.
So you grab a big garbage bag from the kitchen, put all of your old t shirts in the bag, and then drop them off at Goodwill on your way to the grocery store.
But what if those t shirts that you just gave away could have paid for your groceries. Most people don’t think of their old t-shirts as having any value, but I’m here to tell you differently.
(Note: Every picture in this post are from my sold listings except the 2 concert tour shirts at the end).
T-Shirts do sell!
I’m constantly surprised about what sells on eBay. And lately t-shirts have been my area of focus. There’s a few thrift stores in my area that sell T-shirts for 50 cents to a dollar. A couple of months ago I started buying some of these t-shirts and listed them to see if they would actually sell. To my shock, the shirts started selling consistently.
The most surprising thing to me was when people started buying souvenir shirts. Here I am, reselling clothing from other people’s vacations to another different person:
Is it worth your time to sell used t shirts?
“So what” You may be thinking. “Your selling used t shirts for around $10.. there’s no money to be made from that!”
And normally you would be right, but if you can get shirts for 50 cents to a dollar then there’s still good money to be made.
Let’s assume that you buy a shirt for $1 and sell it for $10 (my average selling price for a t shirt). Shipping for a t-shirt is about $2.75, or less. eBay takes 10% so that’s $1 in fees, and PayPal takes a 2.9% fee and 30 cents per transaction.
3% (I’m rounding) of $10 is 30 cents, so PayPal takes 60 cents of this $10 sale. To summarize:
- total sale: $10
- PayPal and eBay fees: $1.60
- buy cost: $1
- shipping cost: $2.75
Net profit: $10-(1.6+1+2.75)= $4.65
$4.65 isn’t going to make you rich, but over the past 2 months I’ve sold about 20 used shirts that I got for between $1 and 50 cents.
Assuming a $4.65 profit for each shirt that’s almost $100 profit from just used t-shirts over just 2 months.
And it takes about 2 minutes to take pictures and measure a shirt, and another 3 minutes to list it. That’s only 5 minutes of work per shirt.
So 20 shirts x 5 minutes work per shirt is about an hour and a half (or 1.5 hours). $100/ 1.5 hours is $66/hour!
If you make more than $50 an hour then it might not be worth it to list your old shirts. But if you could use the extra cash (and we can all use the extra cash) then you should think about selling some used shirts.
P.S: This breakdown of profits and fees is assuming that you can get t shirts for 50 cents to $1. They’re thrift stores around you that sell shirts for cheap.
3 Types of Shirts that Sell
It would be nice if any old white Hanes t-shirt with yellow stains under the pits would sell on eBay. But you won’t make any money if you try and sell your old, sweaty, stained shirts.
Only specific types of shirts sell. These are 3 types that I’ve found sell best:
1. Souvenir shirts
Like you read earlier, people will pay money for a souvenir shirt from a vacation that they didn’t go on. Here’s one that sold in the past month:
If you can find t shirts from a popular tourist destinations like Rome, Puerto Rico, places in the Bahamas/ Caribbean, or Disney World (that’s $1 or less!) then you should buy it.
The graphic on the front of the shirt is the biggest factor in if it’ll sell on eBay. The graphic is the first thing that catches someone’s eye. A shirt with weird colors, a giant graphic, or a picture of a famous place are all things to look out for. Shirts that are older are also in much higher demand than shirts that were made in the last few years.
This is a weird looking shirt that I sold a couple of weeks ago:
I think we can agree that this shirt is ugly. But it’s vintage looking, has a unique color design, and is from a popular spot (Aspen). This shirt is just one example of things to be on the lookout for.
2. Sport teams
People identify with their favorite sport teams. I have a friend from Philadelphia and I’m scared to be around him when the Eagles lose a football game. Sports teams also means college sports. A lot of people take pride in where they went to school, so they’ll buy a shirt from a sporting event from their school too.
A couple months ago a friend gave me some of his old college shirts to sell. Because I got everything for free I decided to list everything and see what happened. To my surprise a sorority shirt from this guy’s college sold:
3. Band T Shirts
My favorite shirt that I ever sold was a tie dye Grateful Dead band t shirt from a tour in 1994. This was one shirt that I did spend $4 at Goodwill for because it later sold for around $75. I haven’t found many band t shirts lately, but here’s one that sold recently.
T shirts from classic bands like Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, Van Halen, Johnny Cash, Nirvana, The Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Doors, David Bowie, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Iron Maiden, U2, Janis Joplin, and Metallica consistently sell for more than $75.
If it’s from a memorable tour or has unique graphics then it can sell for even more:
In general if you find a musician or band t shirt then you should look it up because the value is all over. Sometimes when I think I hit the jackpot it’s really fools gold.
Last year I found an Eagles tour shirt from the 90’s at a Goodwill. I was certain that it was going to be valuable, but they only sell for around $10 (if this shirt was in a thrift store for $1 then I would get it).
As you would guess, designer made t-shirts (Gucci, Prada, Versace) sell quickly for good money. But anyone can sell a used t shirt from a designer. It takes skill to be able to pick the profitable souvenir t-shirt out of the bin because 95% of t shirts that you’ll come across are worthless.
You’re probably not going to get rich from selling used t-shirts. But it’s also nice to be able to make a couple hundred dollars each year from shirts that I get for $1. Chances are that you have a couple (if not dozens) of t shirts that you never wear that’re sitting in your closet at this very instant. Why not make some money from them?
If you liked this post be sure to keep your eyes out for my guide that’s coming out in the next few weeks about how to make thousands of dollars a month by selling on eBay.
Also here’s my eBay store: