In a world filled with emerging fast fashion, overconsumption, and closets stuffed to the brim, an alternative shopping experience remains constant: Plato’s Closet. If you're not familiar with Plato’s Closet, it's time we let you know about this gem of a retail chain.
Over time, the narrative surrounding secondhand shopping has changed. What once began with negative connotations has turned into a fun, frugal, and trendy way to purchase your clothing and other accessories. And that is exactly where Plato’s Closet steps in with its unique business model.
So whether you’re a professional thrifter or just looking to score a great deal on trendy clothing items, let’s dive in and answer all of the questions surrounding our hot topic: What is Plato’s Closet? And how does Plato's Closet work?
In this post, we will discuss the shopping environment, the selling process, and the pros of being a Plato’s Closet customer.
What Is Plato’s Closet?
Plato’s Closet is a retail store with a fun and unique business model. Plato’s Closet customers can bring their clothing, shoes, and other accessories into the store.
From here, employees evaluate the items and give cash on the spot for the items they accept. This is what makes Plato’s different when compared to a consignment shop.
At consignment shops, the customers typically have to wait until the item sells to get their payout. At Plato’s Closet, the customer leaves their clothes and gets cash on that same day.
It is also different from a thrift store because items are not donated to Plato's Closet. All items go through a thorough assessment before they are accepted as inventory.
Plato’s Closet makes its money by reselling the items brought in by its customers right there in the store. From there, customers are able to shop and purchase the pre-loved items that others have brought in.
This model allows the circularity of fashion, promoting shopping and selling secondhand. I personally have been on both sides of the Plato's Closet model, as I am a customer but have also worked at Plato's Closet for over 4 years.
Because of that, I know all of the ins and outs when it comes to Plato's Closet. So now that we have a brief overview, let’s get into more specifics about how Plato’s Closet works.
Plato’s Closet Origins
Plato’s Closet was established in 1998 by Lynn and Dennis Blum. The name Plato’s Closet came about from inspiration from the founders’ son.
At the time, Lynn and Dennis’ son was completing a school project involving Plato. Plato was a Greek philosopher and one of the earliest advocates for recycling.
This led the founders’ son to the inspiration for naming the store Plato’s Closet. It really is a fitting name because these stores have a mission of recycling clothes and other items.
The first store was opened in Columbus, Ohio. Since then, the business has grown into over 480 individually owned franchises.
The Shopping Experience
Now, let’s dive into the Plato’s Closet shopping experience. When you walk into the store, you will be greeted by the employees and notified about any current promotions.
After this, you will see endless racks of clothing. There are two main sections of the store: women’s and men’s. Typically, the men’s section is a lot smaller than the women’s.
The clothes in each section are separated by type, including dresses, rompers and jumpsuits, jeans, coats and jackets, long sleeves, short sleeves, and athleticwear.
On top of the racks of clothing, there will be shelves with shoes placed on them. Shoes are arranged by size.
All stores have dressing rooms and allow customers to try on items before purchasing. You will just need to ask an employee to unlock one for you.
Selling At Plato’s Closet
Next, on our venture to answer the question, “What is Plato’s Closet?”, we will discuss the selling process.
As mentioned earlier, all of the inventory that Plato’s Closet has comes from customers that bring in items to sell. As a seller, the first step is to look in your closet and see if there are any clothing items, shoes, or accessories you would like to get rid of.
Most Plato’s Closet stores accept the following items:
- Clothing items
- Purses, wallets
- Bras and intimates (in new condition)
- Beauty products (some locations)
- Books (some locations)
Most Plato’s Closet stores do NOT accept the following items:
- Home goods
- Workwear items
- Children's clothing
Once you’ve cleared your item as one that Plato’s Closet may accept, evaluate the item. Make sure it is in clean, good condition. Plato’s Closet does not wash the items or perform any repairs to the items they purchase from customers.
If there are flaws, holes, stains, or odors, the items will be declined. After you’ve made sure your item is clean and fresh, evaluate the style of the item.
Plato’s Closet aims to purchase trendy items, including those that are in style within the past 2 years. They tell customers to compare their items to ones currently being sold in the mall to gauge whether they will be accepted or not.
Although, this process can be extremely subjective and depend on the specific store and worker going through your items. When in doubt, bring all of your clean items in and let Plato’s Closet make the final judgment.
Starting The Buying Process
Now that you have all of your items ready to bring into Plato’s, make a trip to your local store. Many stores have long wait times for buys, so try to get there early, if possible.
Once you enter the store with your bag or basket of items, you will head to the “buy counter.” Here, the workers will direct you to fill out a form with personal information.
This includes your driver's license number, so make sure you have that on you. They also have to physically check your ID in order to perform your buy.
Next, the employees will sort through your items. They will inform you that you can either wait and shop, or leave and return at a later time that day.
When the workers begin going through your items, they will separate them into piles: accept and decline. For the declined items, they will be placed back into the bag or basket that you brought them in.
The accepted items will be processed through their pricing system. For this part, the Plato’s Closet workers put in the type of item, brand, and condition of the item. From there, the computer determines the price.
Once they are finished processing your buy, they will call your name out in the store. If you left the store, know that they do not make personal phone calls to notify you that your buy is finished.
If you're wanting more helpful hints, read out guide on tips for selling at Plato's Closet.
Receiving Your Payout
Next, return to the buy counter. Here, the worker will tell you how many items they accepted and the total price for all of the items. If items were declined, they will usually tell you why.
You are able to accept or reject their offer. If you accept, you will receive cash on the spot. Alternatively, you can take store credit. However, you get the same amount of store credit as you do cash.
If you reject the price, they will return your items and you are able to take them all back home. Alternatively, you can ask about specific items. For example, if you had a pair of Nike shoes to sell at Plato’s Closet, you can ask how much you earned from those specifically.
If it is not a price you like, you are able to tell them you would like just the shoes back but are okay with everything else.
Benefits Of Shopping At Plato’s Closet
As I’m sure you can already tell, there are so many perks to shopping at Plato’s Closet. These mainly include affordable prices, quality items, sustainability model, and promotion of small, local businesses.
Plato’s Closet advertises that they price items at up to 70% off of the retail price. Many clothing pieces are priced from $5-$12, depending on the type and style.
Shopping secondhand at Plato’s Closet will always stretch your cash further for the same name-brand clothing items!
In the days of fast fashion, you can help break the cycle by shopping secondhand. By giving perfectly good items a second home, you extend the life of these items and avoid putting new items into circulation.
Promoting Small Businesses
Each Plato’s Closet store is its own franchise. If you shop at Plato’s Closet, you are supporting a small, locally-owned business.
Although it may seem small, this can make a big impact on your community as a whole.
And that concludes our deep dive into the question, “What is Plato’s Closet?” In this post, we went over the shopping experience, the selling process, and everything you need to know about the background of the company.
Have you ever bought or sold from Plato’s Closet before? What was your experience like?