Unclaimed Cash on 'GMA:' Three Women Clean Their Closets In Hopes of a Cash Payoff

Searching through your closet could lead you to a big money payoff!

ByLara Spencer and Angela Ellis
July 04, 2011, 7:24 PM

July 5, 2011 -- They're a fixture in every home - closets full of the clothes we had to buy, but still have yet to wear.

There are closets that are practically a store, with items kept in every size, just in case.

And then there are those closets full of the faded jeans and fringe jackets from the '70s because you never know what could come back in style.

The good news?

Those underused, overstuffed closets could be turned around from clothes chaos into cash for you.

Click HERE for tips on turning junk-drawer finds into cold hard cash!

"You don't have to have designer, luxury items in your closet," Karen Bard Sayah, Fashion PR & Social Media Managertrend expert for the online shopping site eBay, told "Good Morning America."

"Designers that we all know and love sell really well on eBay," Bard Sayah said. "Things from stores like the Gap and JCrew, they really hold their value."

To see just what kind of value everyday clothes can hold, "GMA" embarked on a closet challenge, inviting three women to open their closet doors to see what, if any, hidden treasures could be buried among the piles.

The first woman to try our closet challenge on for size was Cathy Breck, a pregnant mother of one whose closet in her Old Greenwich, Conn., home, we discovered, was a reflection of her optimistic personality and full of pre-pregnancy clothes she hoped would one day fit again.

"I mean, I want to save it, I think I'm going to get into it," she said of the size-6 shirts, pants and dresses that filled her closet walls. "But the reality is I don't think I'm getting into half these clothes."

As Breck's closet contents were revealed, we discovered her closets were also practically a designer outlet, full of high-end labels from Michael Kors to Tory Burch.

"One of the most popular brands on eBay for bags is Tory Burch," Bard Sayah said.

"A bag like this can go for upwards of $175," she said, pointing to just one of the bags buried at the bottom of Breck's closet.

From the designer outlet hidden in Breck's closet, we headed to the Farmingdale, Long Island, home of Denise Cavrell and discovered her closet was really not a closet, but an entire basement full of old clothes.

"I'm thinking how many clothes can one person possibly ever wear?" asked Denise's husband, Paul, of the clothes accumulation he was ready to see leave his home.

But Denise found it harder to part with her old items, a common problem that leads to closet overload instead of cold hard cash.

"This was my prom dress," Denise said, pointing to a gold lame number. "You know, I hate to part with this because I have good memories."

Once Denise got past her memories, she got to work, pulling out a dress, designer suits and then, from the very back of her closet, old maternity clothes from the popular "Mimi Maternity" line that could be her big payoff.

"Someone sold her maternity lot for $405 dollars," Bard Sayah said of a previous seller on eBay who sold all her old maternity clothes on the site as one package instead of listing them each individually, a smart way to raise the items' value.

The final leg of "GMA's" closet challenge led us to the Riverside, Conn., home of Elizabeth Barth, a former Wall Street power broker whose closet was full of old 9-to-5 power suits she had traded in for more "play-date" friendly gear.

"I never wear a suit, ever," Barth admitted as she looked at what was taking up all the space in her closet. "So, goodbye suit."

Barth also managed to dig out, and say goodbye to, more casual clothes, from a pair of JCrew wedge sandals to pants and even a cowboy hat, that she knew were past their prime for her style, but could possibly earn her cash.

Trading In, Hoping for Cash

Bearing bags and bags of clothes pulled from the closets of our three challenge contestants, we arrived at the front door of the New York outpost of Buffalo Exchange, one of the country's biggest "buy-sell-trade" chains.

Bree Turnier,the manager of the Buffalo Exchange store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, told "GMA" the chain looks for the three "Cs" of clean, current and good condition when deciding which items to buy and determining their value.

"We take all labels and all price ranges," she said.

Most importantly for your wallet, the store offers the individual seller 30 percent of what they would sell it for in the store.

"You get the money to take home with you that day," explained Turnier of the store's day-of, cash return policy.

The money that "GMA's" three closet contestants took home with them that day from Buffalo Exchange alone range up to more than $200, including $153 for Breck's designer duds, $52 for Cavrell's sentimental clothes and $46 for Tharp's power suits.

And what didn't make the cut at Buffalo Exchange could still be sold at another popular "buy-sell-trade" chain such as Plato's Closet, with stores in more than 300 cities, at a consignment store like Goodwill or Salvation Army, or on eBay, where it's free to list and sell items.

Just like with a new product, there are key tips for marketing your used clothes to get the highest bidder:

With those tips in mind, we described our contestants' remaining closet finds to Bard Sayah to see what kind of interest she though they could garner on eBay, and here's what she said.

Remember the brand new, brown leather Tory Burch bag Cathy Breck found buried under the pre-pregnancy clothes in her closet? Bard Sayah estimates the good condition and high-end name on the bag could fetch up to $400 on eBay

The maternity clothes buried in Denise Cavrell's basement could be bundled together and sold as a lot for as much as $200-$300, and her Tahari business suits could get $120, for a total of more than $400 cash for Denise.

And the power suits that worked for Elizabeth Barth on Wall Street but not at home in Connecticut? Her hot pink Giorgio Armani suit jacket could go for as much as $125, Bard Sayah estimates, while her Ann Taylor suits could fetch $90 each.

And after all your hard work cleaning your closets and selling your goods is done, don't forget an extra, final step that could earn you even more money come tax time.

Tell Uncle Sam to "Show me the money" come tax time by claiming the charitable tax deduction. From your donated items, you can deduct the "fair market value" — the price a buyer would be willing to pay for them.

If the merchandise you've donated is worth less than $500, you simply list the amount on your 1040's Schedule A.

If you report donations worth more than $500, you have to fill out IRS form 8283. Here you will have to identify and value the items — noting when you bought them, approximately, and how much you paid for them, also approximately.

For any item worth more than $250, you need a receipt from the charity. And for any single item worth more than $5000, it's necessary to get an independent appraisal.

You Asked, We Answered: Expert Answers Your Unclaimed Money Questions Here!

Click here for tips and tricks on finding unclaimed money left by a loved one.

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