Rethinking Reselling: Ethical Considerations in the Resale Revolution

Rethinking Reselling: Ethical Considerations in the Resale Revolution

Exclusive Interview with The Cellar Sellers' CEO, Hilary Koziol

In a world of cluttered attics, jam-packed basements, and forgotten treasures, Hilary Koziol emerged as a pioneer in the art of turning unwanted items into newfound treasures. The CEO and Founder of The Cellar Sellers, Hilary Koziol, has reshaped the landscape of (re)selling, forging a path that blends business acumen with ethical responsibility.

The Resale Revelation: Ethical Selling with The Cellar Sellers

Meet Hilary Koziol – a passionate advocate for all things rare, vintage, unique, and fun. She has embarked on a mission to revolutionize the (re)sale industry, not just as a lucrative venture, but as a sustainable, eco-conscious movement.

Koziol on Resale's Environmental Impact: Hilary Koziol's journey began with a simple, yet powerful realization – (re)selling isn't just about finding hidden treasures or turning a profit; it's also about preserving our planet. With staggering statistics on waste and pollution, Koziol highlights how (re)selling rescues items from landfills, minimizes waste, and contributes to a greener future.

The Very Act of Selling is an Act of Re-Selling: While some may question the ethics of (re)selling, Koziol brings a fresh perspective. She reminds us that established giants like Wal-Mart, Amazon, and boutiques are essentially re-sellers in their own right, sourcing products from various suppliers. Therefore, participating in (re)sale activities, especially from the comfort of your home, is neither immoral nor unethical.

The Garage Sale and Flea Market Frontier: Koziol emphasizes that garage sales and flea markets offer a unique opportunity to make a positive difference. She shares her personal ethos, never bargaining for a better deal when she knows she's getting a great one.

Unethical Reselling: The Dark Side: Koziol sheds light on the ethical gray areas within (re)selling, pointing to scalpers and merch resellers as prime examples. She identifies unethical practices, such as buying limited-edition items from fans and reselling them at exorbitant prices.

Us: Let's dive right in, Hilary. How does re-selling impact the environment?
Hilary: You know, the impact is pretty substantial. It takes 10,000 gallons of water to produce just one pound of cotton, which is approximately equivalent to three thousand gallons for a single cotton shirt. Can you believe it? Then we have textile dyeing, which involves toxic chemicals that often end up in our oceans. Around 20% of the world's wastewater is a result of this exact process. When factories relocate to countries with lax environmental regulations, untreated water often flows into the oceans. Then we think pure consumption. Supply and demand. In 2019, 62 million metric tons of apparel were consumed globally. Around 35 million metrics tons, or 57% of that ended up in landfills, as they do every year. The best case scenario is incineration. How wasteful is that? 
Us: That's eye-opening for sure, but how does The Cellar Sellers tackle this issue?
Hilary: We're all about breathing new life into forgotten treasures. We leave nothing on the table. Remember those old plates your grandma has tucked away? They might not be your cup of tea, but trust us, they're someone else's. We're in the business of finding new homes for these items, keeping them out of landfills and earning grandma some cash in the process. And for the rare items we can't sell? We're happy to buy them outright and repurpose, reuse, recycle, or donate them for a second, second chance.
Us: We have to ask, what about the pollution associated with transporting items to and from your fulfillment centers? How do you take that into consideration when speaking about environmental sustainability?
Hilary: You're spot on; there's certainly pollution in transport. But we don't hide from it; we counter it. For every single purchase, we plant a tree, and for items with higher value, they plant even more trees. We can't save the world, but we're determined to leave it better than we found it.
Us: Some critics argue that buying something cheap and selling it for a higher profit feels wrong. What are your thoughts on that?
Hilary: Let's talk business basics. Isn't selling goods or services for a profit what a business does? But it's about how and when you do it that matters. WalMart, Amazon, your local gift shop, or boutique – they're all selling at a profit. So, no, it doesn't feel wrong; it's not just about the act, it's about the outcome of that act.
Us: And what about the impact re-selling has on low-income communities and individuals?
Hilary: Let's remember that some big players in this space, like Goodwill, are multi-billion dollar companies. In 2016, Goodwill Industries International made $5.7 billion in revenue. Yes, with a "B". When you see the president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International earning $700,000 annually, buying and reselling from them starts to look like a bit of a Robin Hood tale, doesn't it? But you asked about the impact on less fortunate individuals. This is where I can understand the concern, but that impact can be minimal. It can be when you start considering that resellers typically focus on high-value items or those with higher profit margins. The problem doesn't lie 1-1 with resellers vs those-in-need. The problem occurs when these corporations start to increase prices across the board on all of their products because reselling has become popular with the rise of TikTok and other social platforms. I mean, for heavens sake, I stopped by one the other day and I saw rows of old, tattered WalMart t-shirts that retail new for $5 being sold for $7.99 - now THAT? That is indeed a problem and to be honest, I'm not fully sure how to counter that. There are some ideas in the works as we continue to scale, but for now I suppose it's a symptom of the business. 
Us: Interesting point. What about when you source items at local garage sales and estate sales? Is that ethical?
Hilary: That's where you can truly make a positive difference. When you know you're getting a great deal, there's no need to haggle for a better one. In fact, I often give sellers more than they're asking for when I recognize the value they might not see. I also give them my business card. It's about creating win-win situations and doing the right thing.
Us: Last but not least, Hilary, is there any type of re-selling that you view as unethical?
Hilary: Unethical reselling is a real concern. Take scalpers, for instance, or the frenzy around Taylor Swift tickets and her merch. It doesn't feel right when sellers buy up limited edition items from genuine fans and then resell them at exorbitant prices. I've been on both sides of that scenario, and it never felt good. Ever. So I always advise people that while yes, the money is good, your peace of mind is better.
Us: Well said, Hilary. So, in a nutshell, as long as your moral compass points north, there's nothing unethical about (re)selling.
Hilary: Absolutely. It's all about doing the right thing.


As Hilary Koziol aptly puts it, "It's about doing the right thing." In a world driven by profit, she stands as a beacon of ethics in the (re)sale revolution. So, whether you're a seasoned (re)seller, an aspiring enthusiast, or a thrifting aficionado, remember to keep your compass due North, and the (re)sale journey will be as rewarding as it is ethical.

And with that, let's get to the thrill of the (re)sale!

Back to blog

Leave a comment