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How To Start A Thrift Store In 2023

How To Start A Thrift Store In 2023

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How To Start A Thrift Store In 2023

How To Start A Thrift Store

If you’ve resold used items through Craigslist, eBay, or even by holding a yard sale, then you’re already aware that even used merchandise can still bring in some significant income. Starting a thrift store can allow you to put your reselling talents to work at a larger volume. If you’re resourceful, aware of how to evaluate and price good merchandise, and ready for the responsibility of owning a retail store, then it might be time to think about opening a thrift store of your own.

Business Overview

Thrift stores resell items like clothing, furniture, and home goods. They offer a wide variety of inventory that is constantly changing as new items come in and are known for having good prices. Most of the inventory you’ll find at a thrift store is secondhand, though some stores stock closeout and clearance items that they’ve purchased from other businesses or purchased from storage unit auctions, estate sales, flea markets, and garage sales. While some thrift stores are associated with and benefit a charity, others are operated independently as for-profit businesses.

Thrift stores appeal to shoppers for many different reasons. Some shoppers are drawn to the stores because of their low prices. Others enjoy the ability to browse and discover new items. Thrift stores also support the up-cycling movement, allowing shoppers to find new ways to use old items with an eco-friendly benefit. Some thrift stores specialize by offering mainly furniture, children’s clothing, or other items that appeal to certain types of shoppers.

Thrift stores can be operated as a non-profit organization or for-profit businesses. If you plan to take the non-profit route, you’ll need to operate the store according to the laws that govern non-profit charities, and that can make for a lot of paperwork. You’ll also need to donate a percentage of your profits to charity and donate to a charity that relates to the items being sold in the shop. However, operating as a nonprofit thrift store can make it easier to get donated inventory.

If you operate as a for-profit business, you may need to get creative in appealing to people for donations or find good deals on inventory that you can purchase. This can take time, leaving you with less time to focus on running the business. There are benefits and disadvantages to each option, so you’ll need to think carefully about the type of business you want to create and the option that works best.

Industry Summary

According to IBIS World, the used goods store industry experienced 4.6 percent annual growth over the last five years. During that time, the number of businesses totaled 77,525, and the industry’s employment also grew to 277,260. In 2023, the thrift shopping industry was expected to bring in $29 billion in revenue.

Traditionally, used goods and thrift stores enjoy higher sales during times of economic downturn since customers are more likely to buy used clothes and supplies at a discount than to buy new items. However, while disposable income increased from 2018 to 2023, this industry still saw increased sales and profits. A change in fashion trends has prompted many people – including young consumers – to buy used clothing, resulting in the increased popularity of thrift stores.

According to Thred Up’s 2023 Resale Report, millennials and Generation Z individuals are the driving force behind the thrifting movement. Shoppers who are 18 to 37 years old are embracing thrifting 2.5 times faster than shoppers from other age groups. An increased focus on sustainability and ethical fashion are partially behind the focus on thrift store shopping, and it bodes well for the future of thrift stores.

To keep up with the changing demographic of thrift store shoppers, thrift stores are increasingly meeting these shoppers where they’re most comfortable: Online. Like Goodwill, thrift stores have established online stores and online auction platforms where shoppers can buy online without ever stepping foot into the store. Additionally, reselling apps like Poshmark have also evolved and gained popularity as shoppers become more determined to seek out deals on used goods.

According to the Association of Resale Professionals, clothing, cookbooks, furniture, jewelry, kitchen appliances, sporting goods, and vintage items are strong sellers for resale shops.

Target Market

Most thrift stores will target a broad audience. While Generation Z and millennial shoppers make up a large portion of the thrift store market, consumers of all ages shop at thrift stores. Some thrift stores may adopt a specialty, like offering affordable children’s clothing or used furniture, so their markets may differ slightly. In most cases, though, thrift stores will target shoppers looking for a good deal on used clothing, accessories, furniture, or other household items.

Checklist To Start A Thrift Store

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Starting a thrift shop can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for the challenges ahead. Use this checklist to help get your business off on the right foot.

Step 1: Market research

Researching the viability of starting a new thrift store requires a combination of market research, demographic analysis, understanding customer behavior, and analysis of existing competition. Here are some steps and resources you can utilize:

Market Research: Before starting a business, it is crucial to conduct market research. Start with a general internet search on the thrift store industry. Look for recent news, industry reports, and future predictions. Sources like IBISWorld and Statista can provide industry reports and statistics.

Demographic Analysis: Your customers will likely come from the immediate geographic area, so understanding the local demographics is crucial. You can use sources such as U.S. Census Bureau data, local government data, or commercial databases to get an idea of the population, average income, age distribution, and other factors that could influence thrift store shopping.

Consumer Behavior Research: Learn about the typical thrift store customer. Who are they? What are their shopping habits? What are their motivations? This information can help shape your marketing strategy. Surveys, focus groups, or interviews with potential customers can help provide this information.

Competition Analysis: Look at other thrift stores in your intended area. How many are there? How successful are they? If there are many thrift stores, it may be a sign of a saturated market. Conversely, if there are very few or none, it could indicate a gap in the market (or that there’s little demand for such a business). Visit these stores in person, observe their strengths and weaknesses, and try to find a unique selling proposition for your store.

Economic Trends: Review the broader economic environment, as economic conditions can impact the thrift store industry. For example, in tough economic times, more people may turn to thrift stores to save money. Conversely, in good times, some people may prefer new goods.

Online Forums and Social Media: Online platforms can also provide insights. Check out discussions on platforms like Reddit or local Facebook groups. You can also survey potential customers online to gather insights.

Remember, starting a thrift store is about more than just seeing if there’s a customer base. It also involves understanding what kinds of items your customers will want to buy, your sourcing strategy for these items, and how you will manage the day-to-day operations of the business. It’s important to create a comprehensive business plan that covers all these aspects.

Step 2: Write a business plan

Creating a business plan is an essential step when starting any business, including a thrift store. The reason for writing a business plan is multi-fold:

Vision and Strategy: It helps clarify your business idea and outlines how you plan to turn that idea into a functioning business. It forces you to think through all aspects of your business, from the products you will offer, the customers you will target, to the marketing strategies you will use.

Feasibility Assessment: It enables you to assess the feasibility of your thrift store. By detailing the financial aspects – from startup costs to projected revenues and expenses – you can understand if your business idea is financially viable.

Identifying Challenges: Writing a business plan can also help identify potential challenges and risks that you might not have otherwise considered.

Investor and Lender Appeal: If you are looking to attract investors or secure a loan, having a business plan is typically a necessity. It shows potential investors or lenders that you’ve thought through your business idea and have a plan to make it successful.

In terms of specific sections of the business plan that are particularly important for a thrift store, here are a few key ones:

Market Analysis: This is where you’ll provide the data you’ve gathered about the thrift store industry, the local market, and your competition. Explain why there’s a need for your thrift store and who your target customers are.

Marketing and Sales Strategy: This section should explain how you plan to attract and retain customers. For a thrift store, this might include plans for sourcing unique or high-quality items, hosting community events, or leveraging social media to showcase products.

Product Line and Services: Describe the types of items you will offer in your thrift store. Will you specialize in certain items, like vintage clothing, furniture, or children’s items?

Operational Plan: This is particularly important for a thrift store because sourcing, organizing, and selling used goods can be labor-intensive and complex. This section should detail how you’ll source items, manage inventory, and operate your store on a daily basis.

Financial Projections: Given the unique aspects of thrift store inventory and pricing, it’s particularly important to have a detailed and realistic financial plan. This should include estimates of your startup costs, ongoing expenses, expected revenues, and when you anticipate breaking even.

Remember that while these sections are particularly important for a thrift store, a full business plan will also include other sections such as the company description, organizational structure, and more. It’s important to provide a complete picture of your business to potential investors, lenders, and other stakeholders.

Related: How to write a business plan

Step 3: Select your location

Finding the right location for your thrift store is a crucial step in ensuring its success. To begin, it’s important to understand your target market and their preferences, considering factors like age, income level, and proximity to other retail establishments. With this knowledge in mind, you can start researching potential locations that align with your target audience. Look for neighborhoods with a higher population density, diverse demographics, and a potential customer base interested in second-hand shopping.

Once you have a list of potential locations, it’s time to assess foot traffic. Take the time to visit each prospective location at different times of the day and week to evaluate the level of foot traffic. Look for areas with a steady flow of people, such as commercial zones, shopping districts, or areas near popular attractions. Visibility is also important, so choose a location that offers good visibility and signage opportunities to attract more customers and increase awareness of your thrift store.

In addition to foot traffic and visibility, consider the accessibility of the location. Ensure it is easily reachable by public transportation, has sufficient parking options, and is wheelchair accessible. This will make it convenient for customers to visit your store.

It’s also important to analyze the competition in the area. Evaluate the presence of other thrift stores or similar retail establishments. A healthy level of competition can indicate a market demand, but excessive competition may make it harder to stand out.

Calculating the costs associated with the location is another crucial step. Consider factors such as rent, utilities, taxes, and any renovation or remodeling expenses. Ensure that the costs align with your budget and projected sales.

Before finalizing a location, be sure to check local zoning regulations to ensure that the prospective location allows for a thrift store. Obtain any necessary permits and licenses required by local authorities.

If you’re unfamiliar with the local real estate market, it may be helpful to consult a commercial real estate agent who can assist you in finding suitable locations based on your requirements and budget.

By thoroughly evaluating each potential location and considering factors such as target market, foot traffic, visibility, accessibility, competition, and costs, you can find the ideal location for your thrift store, setting a solid foundation for its future success.

Step 4: Secure funding

Coming up with a good business idea and having the skills to run it are one thing, but getting the funding to start a thrift store is another.

Sources of funding to start a thrift store typically come from personal savings, friends & family, banks, Small Business Administration (SBA) loan guarantees, and investors.

Bank funding is very common, but obtaining funding to start a thrift store can be difficult. To get a loan, the borrower(s) will need to have good credit and personally invest 15-25% towards the total start-up costs.

Related: Finding the money to start a business

Step 5: Register the business

The next step in starting your thrift store is to make sure it’s properly registered and legal to operate. It’s important to note, however, that the exact process can vary from state to state, so you’ll need to check the specific requirements for your location. Here’s a general guide to the key registrations:

Form a Business Structure: The first thing you’ll need to decide is what business structure is best for your business. This could be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company (LLC), or a corporation. Each of these structures has different implications for liability, taxes, and administrative complexity. Many small business owners opt for an LLC because it provides personal liability protection and has fewer administrative requirements than a corporation.

Related: Comparison of business structures

Register Your Business Name: After registering the business structure, you may need to register your business name. This process will vary depending on what business structure you pick. Sole proprietors and partnerships will often be required to register a “Doing Business As” (DBA), while corporations and LLCs register with the state.

Related: Tips for naming a thrift store

During this time, it’s also a good idea to check if the name you want is available as a web domain, even if you’re not ready to set up a website yet.

Related: Finding a domain name for your business

Obtain Business Licenses and Permits: Depending on your location and the nature of your business, you may need certain licenses or permits to operate. This could include a business license, sales tax license, and Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Related: State guides for business licensing

In addition to general business licensing, thrift stores do have regulations to be aware of under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, requiring stores to adhere to guidelines when selling certain products.

Related: What types of licenses does a thrift store need? 

Step 6: Acquire the location and set up the store layout

Once you identify a suitable location, negotiate lease terms with the property owner or landlord. Discuss factors like lease duration, rent, maintenance responsibilities, and any additional clauses that may impact your thrift store. Once the location is secured, it’s time to start preparing it to open.

Setting up a physical location for a thrift store involves careful planning and execution. Here are some steps and advice to consider:

Clean and Renovate: Before anything else, thoroughly clean the location. This might involve professional cleaning, pest control, or even minor renovation work to make the space clean, safe, and attractive. The aesthetic should be inviting and not make customers feel like they are browsing through discarded goods.

Secure Necessary Permits: Ensure you have the necessary Occupancy Permits and inspections completed for your retail space, according to your local regulations.

Layout Planning: The layout of your store is very important as it influences the shopping experience. Here are some general tips:
– Divide the store into sections based on the type of items (e.g., clothing, books, furniture, etc.)
– Keep aisles wide enough for easy browsing and wheelchair accessibility.
– Place popular or high-margin items in high-visibility areas.
– Keep the checkout area near the front and uncluttered.
– Have a dedicated section for new arrivals to entice regular customers with fresh items.

Software: There’s no specific software for thrift store layouts, but general retail store planning software or even simple design tools could be useful. Tools like SmartDraw or FloorPlanner can help you create a visual plan of your store layout.

Inventory Management: With a variety of goods coming in, effective inventory management is critical. Specific software tools, like ThriftCart or Thrift OS, can help manage your inventory, sales, and consignments if you plan to incorporate that into your business model.

Store Fixtures: Choose your store fixtures carefully – you’ll need racks, shelves, bins, display cases, hangers, etc. Remember, the display plays a vital role in a product’s appeal. Higher quality items can be placed on mannequins or display cases to attract attention.

Signage: Good signage both outside and inside the store is important. External signage will attract customers to your store, while internal signage helps customers navigate the store easily.

Lighting: Proper lighting is crucial. It not only illuminates your products but also creates an atmosphere. Natural light is best, but if that’s not possible, ensure the store is well-lit with artificial lights.

Final Touches: Add some comfortable furniture for customers who might need a break, provide fitting rooms if you’re selling clothing, and consider playing some light background music to enhance the shopping experience.

Staff Training: Train your staff not only in sales but also in sorting and pricing items. They should also be educated about the store layout, item locations, and the story behind your store to build a connection with customers.

Step 7: Source inventory

Sourcing the initial and ongoing inventory for a new thrift store involves tapping into various channels, both traditional and non-traditional, to secure a steady supply of quality goods.

For the initial inventory, one of the most common methods is to solicit donations from the community. This can be done by reaching out to local neighborhoods, community organizations, churches, and schools to explain your business and ask for donations of unused or unwanted items. You can also partner with estate sales and auctions, which often have a wide range of items for sale at a lower price, providing a good opportunity to stock up on unique and valuable pieces.

Additionally, consider offering a pick-up service for larger items such as furniture, as this can encourage more donations and help you acquire a broader range of goods. You can also collaborate with local businesses that might have excess stock or unsold items they are willing to donate or sell at a low cost.

For ongoing inventory, consider implementing a consignment model where people bring in items to sell through your store and you take a percentage of the sale price. This not only keeps your inventory refreshed but also encourages community involvement and repeat visits from consignors checking on their items.

Another ongoing source can be local thrift store chains or non-profit organizations. Sometimes they have an overflow of donated items that they can’t manage or don’t have space for. Establishing a relationship with these organizations could result in them passing along some of their excess items to your store.

Garage sales, flea markets, and online marketplaces like Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace can also be excellent sources for unique and affordable items.

Additionally, to keep the inventory interesting and attract repeat customers, consider having themed days or weeks (like vintage week, book week, etc.) and sourcing inventory specifically for those events.

Remember, while sourcing, it’s crucial to maintain a high standard for the quality of items you accept. The condition, cleanliness, and relevance of your inventory will significantly influence your store’s reputation and customers’ willingness to shop there. So while you want to ensure a steady stream of goods, be selective to maintain a high-quality selection that aligns with your brand and meets your customers’ expectations.

Step 8: Prepare your marketing plan

Marketing a thrift store will typically involve using both traditional and digital strategies, with a heavy emphasis on community engagement.

Given the local nature of thrift stores, grassroots marketing methods can be highly effective (not to mention budget friendly). These could include participating in local events, partnering with other local businesses for cross-promotion, or sponsoring community activities. Engaging with your community in this way helps build brand awareness and fosters a positive reputation. When marketing locally, consider traditional marketing methods such as local newspaper ads, flyers, or even local radio ads. Every market is going to respond differently, but as this type of marketing can be expensive, be sure to monitor and make sure it is effective.

Additionally, leveraging social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, or even Pinterest can prove beneficial. Regularly posting pictures of unique or high-quality items in your inventory can attract shoppers and encourage them to visit your store. User-generated content, like having customers share their own photos of purchases made at your store, can also create engagement and reach a wider audience.

Email marketing can be another cost-effective strategy. Collecting email addresses from customers allows you to send newsletters with information about new arrivals, special sales, or events.

Also, consider offering incentives such as discounts, coupons, and loyalty programs, as they encourage repeat business, and you can create a database of customers for targeted marketing efforts.

Before opening, consider having a soft launch or a grand opening event to create buzz and attract initial customers. Reach out to the local community, send press releases to local media, and leverage social media to promote your opening.

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

Step 9: Hire employees

Hiring and training the right employees is an important, but overlooked step in starting a thrift store. The staff not only represents your business but also influences the shopping experience of your customers, which can directly impact your store’s reputation and profitability.

Typical roles in a thrift store might include store manager, sales associates, cashiers, sorters, and donation attendants. The average pay for these roles can vary widely depending on location, size of the store, and the specific responsibilities of the position, but the average hourly wage could range from minimum wage for entry-level positions like cashiers or sorters, to $20 or more per hour for experienced store managers.

In addition to budgeting for salary expenses, a store’s budget also needs to include workers comp insurance, paid time off, and health insurance contributions.

When hiring for a thrift store, look for individuals who are not just looking for a job, but those who align with your store’s mission and values. This might mean hiring people who have a genuine interest in sustainability, community development, or whatever else your thrift store stands for. Additionally, given that thrift stores deal with a wide variety of goods, employees need to be adaptable and quick learners. They must be able to sort and price items effectively, which can require a good eye for value and a basic understanding of a wide range of products. Also, having employees who are able to speak more than one language can be helpful in serving a diverse customer base.

For customer-facing roles like sales associates and cashiers, look for individuals with good interpersonal skills, as they’ll be interacting with your customers regularly. They should be friendly, patient, and able to handle transactions efficiently.

Training is another critical aspect of preparing your staff. In addition to training on their specific roles and responsibilities, they should also be educated on the store’s policies and the importance of customer service. Given the unique nature of thrift stores, training on how to sort, clean, and price items is crucial. Some thrift stores also find it helpful to provide basic training on identifying valuable items like antiques or brand-name clothing.
Remember, the staff is the face of your thrift store, so invest in hiring and training the right individuals.

Related: Hiring your first employee

Step 10: Prepare to launch

Wrapping up, it’s crucial to address the administrative and legal aspects of setting up your thrift store. These may seem tedious but are essential for the smooth operation and protection of your business.

Insurance: Various types of insurance should be considered. This includes general liability insurance to cover accidents or injuries that could happen in your store, property insurance to cover damage to your store or inventory, and worker’s compensation insurance if you have employees. Depending on your specific circumstances, you might also need additional types of insurance.

Related: What insurance does a thrift store need?

Bookkeeping: Setting up an effective system for managing your financial records from the beginning is crucial. This includes tracking your income, expenses, payroll, and taxes. Consider investing in bookkeeping software like QuickBooks or Wave Accounting (FREE). You might also want to consider hiring a bookkeeper or accountant, at least initially, to ensure everything is set up correctly.

Contracts: There are several types of contracts you may need in running a thrift store. For instance, if you’re leasing your store location, you’ll have a lease agreement. If you’re using a consignment model, you’ll need a consignment agreement outlining the terms for sellers. If you’re hiring employees, you’ll have employment contracts. All contracts should be reviewed by a legal professional to ensure they are sound and protect your interests.

RocketLawyer and Law Depot have free and inexpensive templates that may be helpful.

Bank Account: Open a separate business bank account. This is important for keeping your business finances separate from your personal finances, which can make bookkeeping and tax preparation easier.

Credit Card Processing: In today’s digital age, accepting credit and debit cards is almost a necessity. Look into merchant services providers that offer card processing. Examples include Square or Stripe, or your bank. Be sure to understand the fees associated with each option.

As you prepare to launch your thrift store, remember that every business is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. Be adaptable, do your research, and don’t be afraid to seek help from professionals in areas where you lack expertise. While there’s a lot to think about when setting up a new business, careful planning and preparation can set the stage for a successful thrift store venture.

This material is property of StartingYourBusiness.com

Greg’s Tip: Effective inventory management is crucial to the success of a thrift store. Make sure to keep track of what’s selling and what’s not, and adjust your inventory accordingly.

Greg's Business Tip

Common Questions When Starting A Thrift Store

How much does it cost to start a thrift store?

The cost to start a thrift store can vary significantly based on
factors including the size and location of your store, the initial inventory, and the cost of renovations or store setup. However, here’s a rough breakdown of the possible costs you might incur:

Lease and Utilities: Depending on the location and size, the monthly lease for a retail space could range from $1,000 to $5,000 or more. You should also account for utility bills such as electricity, water, and internet, which might add another few hundred dollars to your monthly expenses.

Renovations/Store Setup: The cost of renovations can greatly vary. If the retail space is already in good condition and requires minimal changes, your costs might be as low as $2,000-$3,000. If extensive work is required, this could go up to $20,000 or more.

Initial Inventory: The cost of inventory depends on your sourcing method. If you’re primarily relying on donations, the cost could be minimal. If you’re purchasing items, the cost might range from $1,000 to $5,000 or more.

Store Fixtures and Supplies: You’ll need racks, shelves, hangers, bins, cash registers, etc. These costs can add up to anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 or more, depending on the size of the store and the quality of the fixtures.

Business Insurance: The cost of insurance can vary based on the size of your store, the number of employees, and other factors. However, you can generally expect to pay between $500 to $2,000 per year for a basic policy.

Marketing and Advertising: This could include the cost of creating a website, printing flyers, social media ads, etc. A budget of $1,000 to $2,000 could be a good starting point.

Licenses and Permits: The costs for these will vary by location but could range from $200 to $1,000.

Operating Expenses: As you mentioned, it’s generally recommended to have three to six months of operating expenses on hand as a buffer. This includes rent, utilities, employee wages, and other regular monthly expenses.

Adding up these costs, you could potentially start a thrift store for as little as $10,000 if you’re able to keep costs low. However, for a larger store or a store in a more expensive location, the startup costs could easily be $50,000 or more.

These are just rough estimates, and the actual cost will depend on your specific situation. It’s crucial to do a detailed budget as part of your business plan to understand the potential costs better.

How much can a thrift store owner make?

The earnings of a thrift store owner can vary significantly based on several factors including the size and location of the store, the quality and turnover of the inventory, the business model (whether it’s purely donation-based, consignment, or a mix), and the store’s overhead costs.

A common formula used in retail to estimate potential earnings is the Gross Margin Return on Investment (GMROI). It’s calculated by multiplying the gross margin percentage by the inventory turnover.

In a thrift store context, suppose you’re selling items at an average of twice what you paid for them (or the value you assign to donated items), your gross margin would be 50%. If your inventory turns over 4 times a year (meaning that on average, every item in the store is sold and replaced 4 times a year), your GMROI would be 200% (50% x 4).

For instance, if your total investment in inventory for the year is $50,000 (including the cost of items and any expenses related to acquiring or preparing them for sale), a GMROI of 200% would equate to a gross profit of $100,000 for the year.

From this, you would then deduct your operating expenses such as rent, utilities, salaries, insurance, and marketing costs. Suppose for this example, that your operating expenses add up to $70,000 for the year, your net income before taxes would be $30,000 ($100,000 – $70,000).

This is a simplified example and actual results can vary greatly. Also, keep in mind that it typically takes a new business a few years to become profitable. The most important thing is to closely monitor your store’s performance, keep overhead costs under control, and constantly look for ways to increase the turnover of your inventory and the value you provide to your customers.

What skills are needed to run a thrift store?

Starting a thrift store doesn’t require a business degree, but certain skills and experiences can make the experience easier and more successful.

Awareness of item values. Inventory needs to be priced fairly in order for it to sell, and this can be one of the major challenges of owning a thrift store. Because inventory can be so widely varied, a store owner needs to have a sense of individual item values and the current market. Familiarity with certain brands and products can make it easier to price items fairly.

Awareness of trends. An awareness of trends is also important in selecting inventory that will appeal to customers. A store owner who is aware of what is in demand can seek these items out and prominently display these items to draw customers into the store.

Retail experience. Previous experience in the retail industry will serve thrift store owners well since they’ll have a better idea of the tricks and challenges of managing a store.

Management experience. Thrift stores require multiple employees, so any experience in hiring, training, and overseeing employees will be valuable for a store owner.

Organization skills. Organizational skills are also important in managing inventory and sorting items so that customers can find what they’re looking for.

Customer service skills. Good customer service can help gain and retain returning customers, and a store owner who is great at customer service can teach employees those same skills.

How should I price items in my thrift store?

Pricing items in a thrift store requires careful consideration to ensure a balance between profitability and attracting customers. Here are some tips to help you establish effective pricing strategies:

Research market prices: Conduct thorough research on similar items sold in thrift stores or online platforms to gain a clear understanding of the market value. Consider factors such as brand, condition, age, and demand when comparing prices.

Determine item quality: Assess the condition and quality of each item you receive. Categorize items into different price ranges based on their condition, with higher prices for items in excellent condition and lower prices for items with noticeable wear or damage.

Consider acquisition cost: Take into account the cost of acquiring inventory. If you purchased items from individuals or consignors, factor in the cost of acquiring those items when setting prices.

Set competitive prices: Find a balance between pricing your items competitively and ensuring profitability. Consider offering prices slightly lower than average market prices to attract customers while still maintaining a reasonable profit margin.

Implement tiered pricing: Group similar items together and create tiered pricing based on their perceived value. For example, you can categorize clothing into different price ranges based on brand, style, or condition. This allows customers to have options while accommodating different budgets.

Regularly review and adjust prices: Continuously monitor sales and customer feedback to evaluate the effectiveness of your pricing. Make adjustments as needed to align with market demand, seasonal trends, and inventory turnover.

Offer discounts and promotions: Implement periodic sales, discount days, or promotions to create excitement and incentivize customers to purchase. Consider offering discounts for items that have been in the store for a longer time to encourage their sale and make room for new inventory.

Use pricing cues: Utilize pricing cues such as price tags, signage, or color-coded stickers to communicate pricing information clearly to customers. This makes it easier for them to navigate and understand the pricing structure in your store.

Train staff on pricing guidelines: So that you don’t have to price each item coming into the store, ensure that your staff is well-informed about your pricing strategies and guidelines. Train them to identify high-value items and price them accordingly, as well as recognize items that may require markdowns or adjustments.

Remember, pricing is a dynamic process, and it may require periodic adjustments based on market conditions, customer preferences, and inventory turnover. Regularly evaluate and fine-tune your pricing strategies to optimize profitability and customer satisfaction in your thrift store.

What is the NAICS code for a thrift store?

The NAICS code for an antique store is 453310, which is under the Retail Trade category.

The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.

Related: What is a NAICS code?

Association of Christian Thrift Stores
National Association of Resale Professionals


  • Greg Bouhl

    With over two decades as an entrepreneur, educator, and business advisor, Greg Bouhl has worked with over 2,000 entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses. Fed up with clients finding and acting on inaccurate and outdated information online, Greg launched StartUp101.com to be a trusted resource for people starting a business.

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How To Start A Thrift Store In 2023

How To Start A Thrift Store In 2023

2 Responses

  1. Hi, I was wondering if you could give some advise. I want to start selling clothes (thrifted items/possible items from a wholesaler) and wanted to know what would be the best way to go about getting there. Would I need my business license, along with a seller’s permit or if I wanted to be a vendor at an event would I need something different? Thank you!

    1. Hi Megan

      Each state will have different requirements, but in general the requirements will be the same whether you are setting up a retail shop or as a vendor at an event.

      If you haven’t yet, check out this page as we have the steps and requirements for each state – https://startup101.com/state-guides/.

      Hope this is a good start. Let me know if you have any questions.


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