Beth Karlin / Shopping Centers Today – The sale of used clothing, whether called secondhand or vintage or gently used, is exceedingly popular now. And with celebrities like Kim Kardashian having taken to cleaning out their closets by selling their secondhand duds on eBay, we may well be at the place where used apparel meets celebrity auction meets spring cleaning.
To be sure, the concept of reselling used apparel is hardly any newer than the clothing itself. In 1991 Chip Gergen and Gerald Block saw they could profit from reselling secondhand garments, so they co-founded Berkeley, Calif.–based Crossroads Trading Co., which now operates 35 stores, most of them in California. The chain is about the size of Tucson, Ariz.–based Buffalo Exchange, another secondhand up-and-comer, which has 30 stores around the country. Thus neither of these is big enough just yet to distract segment giant Plato’s Closet, which caters to teens and tweens through some 300 stores nationwide. And yet that may only imply that these hungry smaller competitors have nowhere to go but up.