Parenting & Kids

Digital Don’t: ThredUp Online Kids Clothing

Plenty of people seem to love this service, but honestly, I’m baffled.

Without significant time or money savings for their members, ThredUp just looks like someone figured out a way to make money from a time-honored tradition that moms have been doing amongst themselves for free.

Online Kids Clothing Swap Shop

ThredUp  is an online kids’ clothing swap shop. Buy used items and sell your outgrown stuff. It’s like one giant national consignment sale.

I decided to give it a try. Got the free account. Got the boxes.

Then I gave a bunch of little boy clothes to my sister-in-law when I saw her at a family event. And then I gave some baby girl clothes to a friend when she came over to visit. She in turn passes those cute pink bunny dresses and onesies along to another friend of ours.

My daughter’s clothes keep turning up at parties and playdates.

How could ThredUp be any easier than bagging up outgrown clothes and passing them along to a sister, a friend, or even the local goodwill?

Is This Really Worth the Trouble?

ThredUP box description

For me, no.

First, building a box of clothing to offer online:

  • Sort the clothing by size, season, and gender
  • Then describe the types of items
  • Then the brands, the primary colors and optional notes

ThredUp says no “No pictures or lengthy itemization required” but when I browsed the offerings, every single one of them published a link to a Facebook album including photos of the box contents.

Get Out That Camera

Anyone out there drowning in photos of their actual children? Imagine curating a collection of photos of their clothes.

ThredUP box contents

Next, when another member selects your box, you’ve got to:

  • confirm online that you can send the box
  • print the prepaid shipping label (after the Staples run to get those labels)
  • attach the label to the box and confirm the pick-up time
  • depending on where you live, leave the box outside for pick-up


OK, Maybe It’s a Money Saver

To receive a box, you pay $5 plus $10.95 for shipping. I suppose that’s a deal, for a box averaging 10 items of used children’s clothing.

Don’t forget to add in the time you’ll spend trolling the ThredUp site for the perfect box. You start out with two “picks” – after that you have to send out a box before you can receive another.

For an additional $4.99 a month, you can “go Pro”, which gives you exclusive access to newly listed boxes before they get released to basic members, ability to compare up to three boxes side by side, and access to “Golden Threads” – boutique clothing boxes.

One More Online Community

It’s amazing all the various extras they’ve managed to wrap around the whole process. You can earn ThredUp credits by listing clothing sizes in low supply. You can “favorite” other members.

When you receive a box, you’re asked to review it online. Members are rated by various criteria, and earn badges like:

ThredUp member profile

  • Top Rated – for highest rated members
  • ThredUp Junkie – for most active members
  • Style Maven – for earning 100 “Stylies” points
  • Ambassador – for picking recent boxes from brand new members
  • Town Crier – for inviting 10 or more friends to join
  • Great America – for sending boxes to five or more states
  • ThredUp Rock Star – for being favorited by 20 or more members

Bottom Line

All this rating and badge earning has me starting to feel like a high schooler looking for a place to sit in a crowded cafeteria. Will they like my boxes? What if no one favorites me? 😉

Clearly there are plenty of people who love this service. But without significant time or money savings, I prefer the time-honored traditions of hand-me-downs from friends and local consignment sales.

Then we keep the circle going by passing outgrown items down, and I’m happy to do it.


What about you – am I missing something here? Do you use ThredUp and love it? Do you think technology makes everything better? I’d like to hear about it!


  1. Sam

    09/08/2011 at 3:56 pm

    I have been wondering the same thing… why would anyone do this? I have to pay to get boxes of used clothes but then I am supposed to give them away for free??? That’s not a swap at all. It doesn’t make any sense.

  2. Samantha

    09/08/2011 at 4:28 pm

    Hi Sam, thanks for writing in! I agree, the value is not there for me either.

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    02/13/2012 at 2:12 pm

    […] other sites which wrap unnecessary technology around a process that doesn’t need it (ahem, ThredUP) – Lost Pet Atlas is the Internet at its […]

  4. Noah

    02/28/2012 at 11:45 pm

    My wife and I had the same reaction, so we decided to try a new experiment: you send a box, you get a box back – no descriptions, no searching. You just stick a note in your box saying what you want, and we make a box up from what other folks sent in and mail it back. I’m interested to know if that makes it any more appealing to you?

    1. Samantha

      02/29/2012 at 12:17 am

      Sorry for the delayed response. I was busy rebranding my site (as you can see) – I hope you like the new design! I took a look at, and it does seem more appealing. I always compare to my favorite kids’ clothing source, the consignment sales, where I get most items for $1, 2, or 3 apiece. Let’s say the average is $2.50. If the S&H costs $40 ($20 each way), then I need to get 16 items to match the average cost of shopping consignment. You’ve saved me at least 2 hours of combing through piles of clothes and dealing with crowds, but I’ve made two trips to the post office, and let someone else make the selections for me. It could be a wash. I guess I might have to try it! The sample boxes look quite nice.

  5. Marie

    02/29/2012 at 11:15 pm

    Hey Zen, the site redo seems to be coming along and looks great.

    What a great written review. You bring a lot to light for people to see. I too have used Thredup and just couldn’t get past the whole having to hope the items were in good shape. I also HATED that I had to take the whole box to get 1 or 2 items I wanted. The best part for me was the interaction with other moms, but I got that back when I started to swap kids clothes with flipsize. A much better option than thredup in my opinion. You choose everything piece by piece and build your own box basically. It just made things easier and more cost effective for me. I pay to ship but I use basically use every item I get from them because I picked them. When all is said and done I end up paying about $1.50 or so per item. ( w/shipping) Their pretty unique, you should check them out. I’m just not into other people picking out my daughters clothes. I guess I waited too long to play dress-up to let someone else do it for me. 🙂

    1. Samantha

      03/05/2012 at 2:19 pm

      Hi Marie – thanks for the tip on I didn’t know about this site and I will definitely check it out!

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