NEW YORK CITY — One peek into Candace Callhan's bag was enough to know she meant business.
Packed with sweaters, cut-off shorts and shirts, there'd clearly been some serious culling of her closet.
Like a third of 20-somethings nationwide, Callhan is moving. That means a merciless slashing of the amount of clothes she owned. And she had no intention of just throwing them in the trash.
"I shop too much," she said as she waited in the sellers' line at Buffalo Exchange in Boerum Hill, which buys trendy, gently used clothes and resells them at deep discounts.
"I'm also broke."
Enter New York's ever-expanding second-hand empire, where savvy fashionistas can get cash for their castoffs — if, like Callhan, they know what to bring.
After several successful years in Manhattan and Williamsburg, the trendy Tucson-based chain recently opened its fourth New York location in Boerum Hill.
Store manager Amanda Garrett encourages prospective sellers to bring everything they're looking to off-load and let the buyers have their pick. But she did have a few tips for first timers.
"For us, girls' denim shorts have been selling best," she said.
"We'll take dresses, but we're being more selective."
As the store shifts its inventory from summer to fall, buyers are especially interested in sweaters and light jackets that can be layered over a summery outfit for a cool evening.
"We're buying transitional pieces, like a drapy sweater or a cardigan you can throw on in the evening," Garrett said. "We're getting requests for more chunky sweaters."
Not sure if your clothes cut the mustard? Garrett recommends you call ahead.
Save your high-end and vintage pieces for this New York City chainlet, which boasts outlets in Williamsburg and Park Slope, and recently opened its first Manhattan store in the Village.
Assistant manager Alex Porta said the store is seeking 'vintage and ultra-modern' pieces with an emphasis on condition and quality of construction. Because fall is Beacon's busiest season, buyers will begin their search for the perfect autumn outfit in the first weeks of August.
"We're clearing out our summer inventory to get the best of fall," Porta said.
He cautioned first-timers to be selective with what they bring.
"If it’s your first time, bring in a smaller assortment," Porta said. "Maybe one bag of the different things that you have."
For this Bay Area-based clothier, brand names trump all — but a trendy vintage piece or a super-seasonal castoff from a throwaway fashion chain can still put cash in your hand.
"We cater to people who want something that is in-trend and really cheap," said Lukas Szymanek, an assistant manager at the store's North Seventh Street location in Williamsburg.
"Forever 21 and H&M still do really well in resale, because the style of the items itself is super trendy."
Though the store is starting to search for fall, buyers still covet strappy sandals, peep-toe shoes, flirty skirts and floral dresses.
"We're still looking for summer items," Symanek said. "In terms of dresses, it's a lot of super trendy florals, stuff like that."
TRADES AND TAX CREDIT
If your clothes don't make the grade for sale, you can still squeeze that extra buck out of your closet cast-offs.
Got old jewelry, a funky dress or an old Halloween costume? You can trade it for store credit at Everything Goes on Bay Street in Staten Island.
A still-wearable old bathing suit will net you $12 and an evening gown as much as $60 on your tax return if you take it to the Salvation Army, which offers drop off locations in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan. The organization even offers this handy guide for estimating the value of your donation.
Tax deductions are also availble at any of Goodwill's New York area stores and from local institution Housing Works, whose funky thrift shops will gladly take those old duds off your hands in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Even fashion chains are getting in on the action — although you won't get a t-shirt out of it, you can bring your used Uniqlo threads back to any store for recycling.
TOO WORN TO SELL? RECYCLE IT!
According to the city, New Yorkers toss nearly 200,000 tons of clothes and towels in the trash every year. That might seem like the smart thing to do with a pair of fraying-at-the-seams panties or beat-up sneakers, but the experts assure us it's not.
Manhattan's hip consignment stores can't take your Spanx, but Mombasa is clamoring for them. The Kenyan seaport is the point of entry for tens of thousands of tons of used clothing that ships to Africa every day, much of it sorted, packed and shipped by companies like the Brooklyn-based Trans-Americas Trading Co., which buys in bulk from thrifts for recycling and resale abroad.
Even clothes that seem too beat up to donate can be recycled into everything from rags to plastic. RefashioNYC, a partnership between the New York City Department of Sanitation, the Mayor's Office and Housing Works, will install a used-clothing drop off station in any building with ten or more units.
And if all else fails, you still can bring your sack of old towels to any of the more than a dozen drop-off locations run by GrowNYC.