Is Reselling Thrifted and Second-Hand Clothing Legal? 

Reselling thrifted or any kind of clothing is not only beneficial to the environment but, also beneficial to your wallet. Generally speaking, it is legal to resell your items however, there are some things you can’t do or sell. Before you take the journey into the reseller marketplace or even if you’re a seasoned reseller, keep reading to make sure your business and profits are legal and protected. 


People have been reselling since…well, the beginning of time I suppose but to make a long story short let’s fast forward to 2020. Thrifting is at its highest peak, ever. Growing up, I wouldn’t be caught dead at a Goodwill but now, pfft…it is THE PLACE to be. I will get to The Goodwill 30 minutes early to get first dibs. The Goodwill, especially the “bins” sells thousands of designer brands at a deep discount. You can even find luxury brands like Christian Louboutin, Gucci, and, Prada, up to 90%+ off. 

Whether you just cleared out your personal closet or, purchased items to resell from a thrift shop, below is what you may legally do with those items. 


Legally Reselling Items

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Legally, you may sell any item you wish as long as you obtained it legally and the item(s) are not counterfeit. What I mean by “obtained legally” is, you didn’t buy it out of someone’s trunk at 2 am, you legally purchased it from a store, reseller, or it was a gifted item.  

Now that you have legal items to sell, let’s get listin’. You are 100% allowed to take your own photos of your items and list them online. Those photos now belong to you and are now considered your “intellectual property”. Intellectual property is the area of law that deals with protecting the rights of those who create original works. 

When describing your items within your listing, you may use the brand, model number, or, any other description which is labeled on the tag.  Not only is listing the tag information protecting you from a “not as described” case, but it is also informative to the buyer which is a great way to earn your seller’s trust. 

Before listing items, most resellers clean up any dirt or imperfections which may hinder the overall sale price of your item. Cleaning your item is not only good work ethic, but it will also raise the value of your item. No one wants to buy a used item with dirt all over it and, if they do, don’t expect the buyer to send you a fair offer. 


Now that you understand what you may legally do when reselling, let’s go over the illegal points of reselling. 

Illegal Reselling And Some Rules

When listing your items, as tempting as it may be you may not use a stock photo. Stock photos are considered intellectual property which sometimes may also infringe on a Trademark. Companies both big and small have been known to quickly send out cease and desists letters to those infringing on their intellectual property. Not only do you run the risk of having your entire reselling account banned, but you also run the risk of losing your PayPal account and, ending up with a court date. PayPal has the ability to freeze your entire account, even if you have available funds. It is always best to use and take your own photos when listing. 


You may not SELL repurposed, upcycled or create something which has a logo visible. Logos are protected by Trademark law. Trademark law governs the use of a device (including a word, phrase, symbol, product shape, or logo) by a manufacturer or merchant to identify its goods and to distinguish those goods from those made or sold by another.  

When you are selling or promoting your item(s) you cannot use the manufactures logo without permission. To clear this up, you can’t use the logo on its own. Let’s say you are selling a pair of Adidas pants; Adidas usually shows their logo on their clothing.  It is legal to use your own photo of the pants with the logo however, you cannot use a zoomed-in picture of JUST the logo, even if you took the photo yourself.  

Taxes And Reselling

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Taxes, yes, I can’t end this blog without the dreaded “T-word”. Depending on your location, every time you make a sale there is this invisible fairy that comes and collects something called “sales tax” from your customer.  Let’s not forget the sales tax you pay at the thrift shops when you obtain your items, that’s two-levels of sales tax you need to account for.  When it comes to legal advice, I suggest contacting your local legal office. Most legal offices offer a free consultation which, obviously is legit. Your legal advisor can even help you set up your tax ID number if needed.  


Did we miss something? Have reseller advice of your own you’d like to share? 

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