How to Start a Thrift Store

Thrift shops have become a favorite destination for savvy shoppers. Proof positive that this industry has grown in leaps over time. Read this article if you want to join in on the action and open your own thrift shop.

The thrift shop business offers an exciting and fun way to earn money.

This industry has increased in popularity over the years thus making it a nearly fool proof business endeavor. The market pull of thrift shops stems from the simple and undeniable fact that people love bargains.

There are several aspects to focus on when starting a thrift shop business. What follows is a set of question every person wishing to go on board this industry should ask one’s self.

What to sell?

Decide whether you want to specialize on a particular range of products or you would rather sell a little bit of everything. If you opt for the former, make sure your merchandise is in accord with your interest. If you are fond of clothing then specialize in clothes, if you are into furniture and home essentials then specialize in those, etc.

Once you know what you want to sell then you go on to the next step which is stocking up on your inventory. This is the fun part. You get to hunt around for items that you feel will sell and earn you a profit. There are several places you can explore. You can visit garage, clearance, or estate sales. You can also go directly to the manufacturers and see if they have overruns they want to get rid of. While you’re there, check out when is their next warehouse/inventory sale. If you would rather have your fingers do the walking, you can surf the internet. There are quite a number of online auction sites on the web where you can bid on goods by the bulk.

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Where to sell?

You should give ample time in looking for the perfect spot to open your shop. This task should not be taken lightly because location can make or break your business. Choose an area that is highly visible and has a high percentage of foot and vehicular traffic. The rule of thumb to be followed here is “be where your customers are.”

Another consideration is the size of the space. Your floor area must accommodate not only your stock but also your display units, racks, showcase, and counter etc. as well. Make sure you get just the right size of space. Getting too big a place will be tough on your operating budget since it follows that the bigger the space, the higher the rent. On the other hand, if you select a space that is too small then you won’t be able to showcase your goods properly and it is highly likely that your customers might get put off because of the crammed space.

Whom to sell to?

You need to identify and create a profile sketch of your target market. Find out what they want and what they’re not getting. Immerse yourself in the locale to get a feel of what your consumers prefer. Also, check out the competition. Determine what their fast moving items are and how much their goods go for. This is another way for you to get an idea as to what your market like and don’t like.

Of course, you must first put your name out there before you can tap into the local market. To do this, you need to instigate an advertising and promotional drive. For your campaign to be more effective, keep your target customers in mind when you strategize.

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218 Comments

  • Margaret Yarmush said on April 29, 2009
    Hi. I am looking into starting a thrift store and pretty much know the business aspects of it, etc. The one question I had was is there grant money available for such a venture that you know of? How do you fund a store in the beginning while growing the business? Thanks, Margaret
  • sharon said on May 2, 2009
    just a few more questions: are there special licenses for opening a thrift store? must you be associated with a charity? do you think those that are are more successful than those that are not? many thrift stores in my area offer free pick up and use telemarketers to establish routes and get commitments from people, where do they get the local phone lists sorted by neighborhood, that they use to contact people for donations?
  • ALISON COLIN said on May 20, 2009
    PLEASE HELP I DON'T UNDERSTAND DO I HAVE TO BE NON PROFIT? WHAT KIND OF BUSINESS LICENSE DO I NEED?? THANKS ALISON
  • Gloria Snell said on July 15, 2009
    very interested in starting a thrift store but I need to know how to get started? please help....
  • Dorea said on August 5, 2009
    I would love to start up my own thrift shop but can you do it with little or no money at all?
  • Karen said on August 21, 2009
    Hi...all these questions asked are exactly what I needed to know. How to start? Non profit or not? Grants involved if you make donations to a charity? Can a female (minority) do this with little or no money? Thanks...Karen
  • rita said on August 24, 2009
    I would love to start a store. how do i get started with little to no money and should I pick up the goods
  • Janet B said on August 25, 2009
    I've read through all the questions asked on how to start a thrift store and they are all questions I would ask! I have no money, work a dead end job, but am passionate about meeting the needs of my community. One of my biggest dreams is to start a thrift store in my community. I know it would be a great endeavor for all those concerned, but haven't a clue where to begin. I have a great deal of support from my circle of family and friends and know I would get a great deal of donations. Who can I turn to for directions on start up, funding, etc. Thank you... I eagerly await return reply! Janet
  • Gail Weldon said on September 8, 2009
    Dear Thriftshop friends, Ten years ago, I began the Packrat Thrift Shop, in Valdosta, Ga. I am still in business and am having a blast. I can be reached at (229) 834-9901. I am a for profit business that has a goal of reaching my community for Christ. I am open Mondays, Wed.-Sat from 11am -6pm. I sell everything except toilet paper, guns, and food. We have had a huge impact on our city so far and it never cost me a dime. I am starting with prayer and a vision from God as to what to do. He sent me to look for buildings for rent and told me to tell the owner that I had no money and was expecting to have the rent within the first 3 weeks of opening my store. After many folks told me I was crazy and asked me to come back with a few thousand dollars, I met a lady who had a building that hadn't rented in 6 months and she said here is the key. Pay me the rent when you have it. I paid her 6 months store rent and a security deposit within 3 weeks time. I never borrowed a dime. God had told me to do this and then he paved the way. Where He guides, He provides. I have now been open 3 years in my second location and again God did it both times without a dime spent from my own money. The community has really embraced me. I sell all clothing for $1 or less. Anything for your top half is .25cents, anything for your lower half is .50cents and jackets are $1.00. All furniture has been bought cheap and sold just as cheap. Loveseats are $25, Sofas $50, etc. Beds $25-$100 twin-King. Keeping enough merchandist to satisfy the community is the tough part. I love what I do. I deliver furniture when needed at a cost of $5-$20 depending on how far I need to travel. If you have any questions about this miracle store with a heart, call me please. I would love to share. Keep dreaming. If you have the desire to help people, God will work it all out. Thanks and God Bless
  • Vivian Pair-Stringer said on October 20, 2009
    God is awesome. He has given me a vision to start a thrift store. I have been collecting some inventory and I am asking people for more. My desire is to assist my community. Thank you for the encouragement. Vivian Pair-Stringer
  • col leen hogan said on December 7, 2009
    I am from New Orleans, LA. As an extension of our ministry we decided to start a thrift store. We already distribute food and clothing as giveaways to the community, but the store is something extra special. GOD is in the vision for he led me to this website. Thank you for making it available. What I need to know are there any legal avenues we must address, if so what do we do?
  • Garrett Peterson said on December 15, 2009
    Hey everyone, I'm in Sacramento CA, and my wife and I have a dream of opening a thrift store. I want it to be non-profit, so all the profit will go directly to local and international charity work. Education for low income families, water wells internationally, int. micro enterprise, mosquito nets, local food banks etc I love recycling and hate waste. I have been searching for a job in which I didn't have to participate in the traditional American economic business system. To own a thrift store is great for me, since I can't work for most companies because of my ideals and world view.

    I do have money to start, so my concern is where to get all the items either for free or at a fraction of the price? Anyway, I am very excited about the idea, but it seems to hard when looking at the GoodWill or major Thrift stores in the area. 1 Good will store has more than 50 employees! How can I compete with that? Thanks, G
  • nick sellinger said on December 16, 2009
    my question is how much $$$ do i need and what kind of license do i need to start a thrift store! thanks:)
  • Debbie Rudisill said on January 18, 2010
    Hi, I am interested in opening a small thrift store in Richmond, Va. I would welcome any information you could forward to me. ie. start up cost, tax info, license info, fixtures, advertising etc. Any info will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
  • luis capote said on January 24, 2010
    hi, i'm from miami, florida and i'm as well as the rest of the people here interested in opening such store. please provide with any info needed to start up this biz; including start up cost, tax info, license and so on. thanks a have a good one.
  • Lisa Temples said on January 29, 2010
    I live in Apple Valley, MN and am interested in opening a thrift store. I know I can do this and be of great service to the community. What is the best way to go about it? Any and all information that you could provide would be a huge help. I have been searching the net for many hours daily and there is so much out there that it all gets very confusing. Thank you so much. Many if not all the questions above are the same questions I have. Thanks again, Lisa Temples
  • Spenser Boller said on February 11, 2010
    I live in Irvine, CA and am looking to start a clothing thrift store. I was wondering what licenses I need and how to get started. Please email me with some information. Thanks, Spenser
  • Charles said on February 13, 2010
    I live on the Jersey Shore in a nice small town on a main street with a lot of traffic. How should I start it. Thanks. Charles
  • Steve Sturm said on February 19, 2010
    I live in N. Idaho and have been gratefully volunteering for many years at a local non-profit thrift store. It seems our area has room for more, so I am interested in having the answers to all of the questions above as well. Thank you for your time! Steve
  • Vic R. said on February 28, 2010
    Hello I recently found an interest in opening a thrift store. I have scouted a few locations that I have to follow up with. I know that I have always had a calling from God to help people in some kind of way. I know I could be of good help to the community by opening up a thrift store. I plan to give away a certain amount every month to needy families. I have a little start up money and a vision. I have a descent job right now, so I am somewhat skeptic of stepping out on this limb with how the economy is going right now. I am praying on it and I know god will point me in the right direction. I am looking for the same answers that the people have asked in the previous posts. I am pretty sure I know my community well enough to be able to make a descent living and help the community at the same time.
  • Ericka Glasper said on March 24, 2010
    Hi my name is Ericka and I have been reading comments because God has also given me visions. The information Gail Weldon gave was very encouraging. God has given me a heart to go after the youth mentoring meeting up and giving them things to focus on. Teaching them praise dances and starting a choir for the youth thats interested. I have not started this task yet but i was thinking that opening up a thrift store would help me to accomplish some of the things we would be in need of. If there's anyone who has information on grants or funding or any suggestions on how to start the outreach group or thrift store please email me at highlyfavored034eva@yahoo.com thank you and may God bless you all.
  • CaSandra Chaney said on March 31, 2010
    I live in cedar hill Texas and was wondering what kind of license I need and do I need a tax ID and does the city have the rights to determine what hours I open my store and what I can and can not sale? Also is it best to focus on my type of thing to sale or to be open to many different varieties?
  • rosiestarr said on April 13, 2010
    my daughter law and i are just starting a store our thrift store is in Allen Texas..... its my daughter in laws dream to do this.... we are excited..... and scared lol....
  • Alliosn graham said on April 19, 2010
    Hello!! I live in Manhattan New York. For some years I've been wanting to open a thrift store. I really want to do this, but I'm scared a bit. I don't know the first thing about opening a business!!LOL!!! I'm only 23, and the thought of opening a thrift store makes me excited and terrified. I'm going to pray to the Lord for direction. This is something I really want to do, I feel it in my heart. I just don't know where to begin. Where would I get the inventory, the start up money. With Goodwill everywhere, how would I compete.(sighs)So much to think about!!
  • Jeannie said on April 29, 2010
    I would like to open a thrift store in a small town in Alabama. During the economic struggle, the dollar stores and thrift stores have survived in our small town. Just curious where the inventory comes from? Can anyone that has already opened one elaborate on what they do? Thanks!
  • Cassie said on May 18, 2010
    Hey all!! I am so encouraged to fall upon this website. If anything it has only brought confirmation. I think with those who have opened Thrift Stores as well as those looking to open one, we would have a great community of Networking! I feel like God has set clear, that I am going to open a thrift store here in San Diego, as a nonprofit that reaches out to the homeless here, providing jobs, and working rehabilitation to help get individuals back into the working field! I am so encouraged to hear from all of you!
  • Sandee said on June 2, 2010
    As strange as this sounds, thrift store dumpsters are FULL of good resale merchandise that they have too much of. Save it from the landfills!
  • curtis said on June 4, 2010
    please email me @ c_stylez2005@yahoo.com, i'm looking to open a thrift store in the Saint Paul, MN market. i have a location in mind that has a great deal of customer walk ins and in located in a VERY high traffic area. i have the know abouts of how to do this. i am able to get this deal fully licensed and insured as a LLC for profit company. will reg with the SOS of MN. i am a business banker for a well known bank so obtaining the doc's needed will NOT be a problem. getting the merch we need shouldn't be a problem either i have MANY resources available and i would do all the leg work. by opening this store i will plan to have at least 10-15 FTE's hours would be 9am-9pm 7 days a week closed all major holidays. pay will be determined thru EXP and business payroll will be done by a professional. all accounting would be done in house by a exp book keeper lic. this is going to be a great venture and i am looking forward to getting this completed by no later than 11-01-2010. this store will sell a supply of computers, tv's, clothes for all, furn, beds, books, jewelery, sporting goods, exercise eq, movies, all sorts of electronics, knick knacks, household items, and many other various items. prices will range from $0.50 - $249.99 depending of items. nothing will be in the store that looks like junk or broken everything will work correctly and will be inspected before being put on the shelfs. also thinking of having a online website to hold auctions almost like ebay on certain items. what i am needing is a partner someone who is willing to do some help with cost's and running the place in the event i'm not there. the catch is my credit is not the best and i will not qualify for any SBA loans or personal loans at that matter. this is why i'm looking to make a GREAT deal for ANYONE willing to help. i have 2 people that are for it right now and i'm in need of more help. if your all for this PLEASE feel free to message me to exchange #s my email again is c_stylez2005@yahoo.com we can and will work out a deal for the right person. THANK YOU..CURTIS
  • sarah said on June 6, 2010
    I'm from a small town outside Vancouver BC, Canada. I am determined to open my own thrift store but am having trouble figuring out the license and selling specifications etc. I would like to open a store that offers support to missionaries, but at the moment I am stumped as for opening costs and the legal issues. Is there any advice from anyone . I would ever so greatly appreciate it, Thank You . . .
  • Nikki said on June 17, 2010
    I also had a vision from God to start a thrift store in my community in South Carolina. We only have the Salvation Army store here and the other thrift store does not sell clothing. I want to sell most clothing for 1$. I am currently serving free bag lunches to the homeless on Saturdays and would love to help with other needs for homeless and poor people. We do not have a shelter in my town. My problem is deciding whether to go for profit or non-profit. I will pray and ask God for direction on which way to go. I know that if you ask anything in Jesus name he will provide it for you. I will start collecting items this summer at yard sales and from my church. Please pray for me. Thank you. God bless all who have this vision to help their communities..
  • marfar said on June 20, 2010
    I once owned and operated a thrift store in Charleston, the reason it closed is due to lack of planning. You cannot pay the rent on $1 shirts and $3 pants, there must be big ticket items regularly sold. When I committed to opening my store I did a lot of research, I took classes on opening and operating a small business, and I took full advantage of the local library. There are also government small business help in town; only to provide advice, not money! I plan to open my store again in the future, and currently take accounting classes at my local community college. Oddly enough I am at this web-site doing research for a paper that's due about "what you plan to do in 10 years." My advice to all is research, volunteer or work part-time in a re-sale shop. That is the only way you will find out details, no-one ever gave me ALL the information that was needed. GOOD LUCK TO ALL!
  • Lynn N said on June 23, 2010
    The Treasure Chest thrift store will open sometime this summer. It is part of the total vision of a memorial project - Lighthouse Library in Dexter, KS (a tribute to our daughter who was killed in a car wreck just before her wedding while she was driving back to her dorm at K-State). We collected 20,000 donated books & held fun-raisers to purchase the building material for the library, the thrift store, & a lodge (cabin - Grouse Valley Lodge) on the site. The cabin is the other sustaining project for the main library (to raise funds to pay for the utilities). 100% of the proceeds from the lodge & thrift store will go back into the the library project. The library is a project of ECCRC, a 501-C non-profit started in 2003.

    People were generous to donate the opening merchandise. I do hope/pray they will continue once the shop is opened. We decided (due to space limitations) to only sell one type of clothing. We cannot sell furniture due to lack of space, but will sell shelves, clocks, & very small furniture. We are not selling any electronics only because after receiving donated electronics for the past several years, there is a high amount of non-working products & we do not want to sell defective merchandise. We plan to sell clean & working items.

    There will be a large section of ocen-themed items since the library (Lighthouse Library) has an ocean theme. There is even a 25-ft working lighthouse on the library site. People passing through Kansas can stop in, see the lighthouse, & buy something in the shop to remember their stop-over.

    We have a tiny chapel planned to use up the left-over building material (Tiny Heart Chapel). My husband thinks this project is silly - but everyone I've shared it with loves the idea. It is called Tiny Heart Chapel because it is so small & is in the heart of America. I have donated & historical items donated by several area churches. Other items were purchased from church auctions.

    Everyone has been very supportive & are patiently awaiting the opening. I quit my corporate job in the big city of Wichita, KS. I am a licensed teacher & am praying for some sort of online teaching assignment or some college courses to teach online while at the thrift store. I have no clue how our family will meet our financial obligations. I just made the plunge because one day at my job, it seemed like the right time. I am trusting God for the outcome. Someone on this post stated something like "Where God leads, He will provide." I love that!

    I do know that a thrift store will help our local small rural Kansas town. There is little to do there. People need a place to stop by & get a Coke, shop for gifts, or just visit. We have given away food boxes for several years to those who need food. We have given away coffee or hot cocoa in the winter for anyone stopping by (at our other location). We had free space at another small town, but were asked to leave due to a paying renter in the building. At first, we were very hurt. But it turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise. What others help for evil, God turned into good - as is always the case.

    I wrote a book, Whippoorwill:A Journey Through Loss - & proceeds from the book go to help finish the library project. Here's our website: http://www.freewebs.com/eccrc

    It is my desire to run the library & thrift store, see families enjoy the peace & quite of the lodge, & get the chapel built. Financially, this is one crazy idea for my family. But sometimes you just have to follow your heart & trust the Lord. He has brought us this far & has brought us through some very deep valleys. I love to help others & love to be out in the community visiting with families. Can't wait to get the computer lab up & running & start teaching basic computer workshops again!! Please pray for us & we will pray for all those on this website who also have a heart for others. Thank you & God bless. You may e-mail me at ECCRC at: eccresourcecenter@yahoo.com
  • bev.. said on June 23, 2010
    I have a storage with unwanted items & would like to give the items to a thrift shop for free. I am also looking & asking for a thrift shop to come & pick up the items for free. I live in the city of virginia beach va, if any thrift shop is in need of unwanted items please let me know. you come pick it up its yours for free. Thanks
  • Susan Wachowiak said on July 13, 2010
    Saginaw, MI. I'm an Auxiliary president. We have a Thrift Shop that's open 1 day a week, 9-3, all volunteer run. It's a small gold mind, and I'm working on increasing the days open but change is difficult for this group! Looking for any information/resources you can pass along for donation dumpsters that can be placed outside the Thrift store and outside the hospital for employees to use. Thank you!
  • Christina said on July 16, 2010
    Hi I just opened up my thrift store. Like many others I had vision from God. i love helping people and the community and I also wanted something i could do to reach out for souls. It's all about God in everything I do. the owner gave me the keys with no money down and i do not have a job. I know that this is God. He handed me the key with joy and the location is in the perfect place I waited on God and he showed up and showed out. Be encouraged and stay focused. My Business is Located in Laurinburg, NC 28352
  • chris kenrick said on July 22, 2010
    Hola, I am interested in starting a thrift store in Mexico and I am reading all about what it takes. This page is full of people who have questions and many more who have experience and answers. I am from the United States, but my girlfriend is from Mexico. I am 26 years old and recently moved to Mexico for many reasons. I now want to start a thrift store here and I am looking for some advice, guidance, and all around insight into the industry. I know Mexico is a different place, but I believe it can work here too. Take care and I look forward to hearing from you.
  • Brandy Sigworth said on July 25, 2010
    Hi there, it's nice to see all the posts of successes. I've been researching opening a thrift store in our small town for about a year now. Mostly reading online and books from the library. I am looking into grants for women wanting to start a small business. I would love any feedback, not sure about start up money, where to find all the racks and shelves, legal issues. I want to run this on my own and pass it on to my children when they're older. Thanks.
  • Valerie/Iris Griffin said on August 7, 2010
    World International Thrift Shoppe, Pleasantville, NJ 08232. My sister and I are presently working together to start a thrift shop that will benefit the community and the underprivileged, we want to help in so many different ways, if possible can some email me on the startup supplies, and licenses you have to acquire before you open. We would be very grateful since we dont know really where to begin
  • Deborah Imberger said on August 10, 2010
    I would like to open a Thrift Shoppe, here in NJ and help my two friends who are struggling. I also havent any start up fees. Need help on how to start, and where can i find people to donate, products for this wonderful cause. we are all Christians, and want to help as many people as possible. how to do the management so we dont go under. Would like, to sell everything from, clothing, furniture, home decor, books, toys, kitchen item ect....... Hope to hear from you soon! Thanks Very Much, Deborah Imberger And God Bless
  • Mrs James said on August 11, 2010
    I want to open a Children's thrift store in the Cincinnati OH area. I have the support of my family and friends. I want to donate part of the profits to either a food pantry or Children's hospital. I am not sure how to go about doing so. My husband used to own his own business so we understand the business part. I am just not sure if we have to file as a non-profit, do we have to be able to give tax write off's to people who donate. Could we just provide proof to them that we make the charitable donations each month/year? I am considering opening a booth at the Big year round Fles Market her in Cincinnati and testing the waters before I invest in a store. Any advice would be great!!
  • Terri said on August 12, 2010
    As those above, I am also interested in opening a thrift store. Already coordinate 2 pantries, so would like to make this a non-profit, with at least 2 paid employees, so that we can run the pantries in coordination with the thrift store. Any help with licensing, grants, start-up help, etc. would be most helpful.
  • mers said on August 16, 2010
    Hi! i read all the comments and i'm trying to figured out how will i start a thrift store business. I'm a single mother, lost my job and i have no money to start. I'm just praying to god to help me and guide me of my plans. I was thinking who will help me to start to do this business.
  • angela said on August 27, 2010
    I have also had the idea of a thrift store running thru my mind--I would like to help people with housing issues--my home town has homes falling apart with people living in them...windows busted, roofs caving in, some slanted so that you wonder if the house is just going to fall down flat---of course there is a need for all kinds of things in this town--i think i can get donations...but i just want to make sure I follow the legal route and keep my food on my families table--I have tried to get my sister in on this as she would like a resale shop but she doesn't understand the non-profit part--she is opening a place where people can sell stuff, I'm wondering if I rent a booth from her if I can take donations and sell it in a booth then use that money to do the charity work I see that so badly needs to be done....any info would be great!
  • Des said on August 27, 2010
    I am from New Orleans, La. I read all your comments regarding How to open a thrift store? just like all of you I am also needing help or information on how to proceed with this business. I have been wanting to open my own store for awhile. The company I used to work for, went out of business and it has been very difficult to gain employment. So I decided after carefully talking it over with my family and friends and most definitely praying asking god for his guidance, that this is truly what I want to do. I might as well put my 30 years of customer service skills and management skills to good use at the same time giving back to my community. Please if there is anything, that you may know to help me get started I would appreciate you feedback and may GOD bless all of you with your future plans as a business owner. Thank you kindly, Des
  • Isabel said on August 29, 2010
    As many here, I am thinking about opening a thrift store also, I have few things that I have been collecting plus where I live people throw away stuff that are in good condition. I would like to donate a percentage to St. Jude Hospital, I love children and care for them. I am looking for a space for rent, but I do not know where or how to start. Pray for me please!God bless all.
  • merly said on August 30, 2010
    Hi I am thinking to open a thrift store in Lehigh Acres, Florida, USA just for living, because my husband and I are in very short income. My question is do we need to get license ? and how we select second hands cloth for avoid contamination? thank you very much for any info you send me
  • kristina said on September 3, 2010
    hi i own a small thrift store in charlotte nc. we currently have a little of everything in here but we are now going to only be selling children's items. i've found with me being the only employee, its way too hard to do it all so i've decided to just specialize in one area. Childrens items sell the best... IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN STARTING YOUR OWN STORE, I AM SELLING ALL MY ADULT CLOTHING AND SHOES AND WARES, HOUSEHOLD ITEMS, EVERYTHING NOT CHILD RELATED!!! i have approx 300-500lbs of clothing and atleast a 10x5 room full of STUFF!!! it would be enough to get you going through the first month at least if you were super busy, if not maybe two months... my store is very small. only about 550 sqft. i would recommend starting small with very low rent. this business if extremely cheaper than most to get started. if you find a landlord to give you a great deal on rent...with all the utility security deposits and store fixtures, and truck rentals, and labor to get it going should not cost you more than $7-10,000.00! if you have a ton of free help and access to fixtures and racks cheap, shouldn't cost you more than $3-5,000 definitely have a few months rent budgeted into your plan. i highly recommend doing a business plan... i hated it.. it was torture... i didnt understand what to do... it took me 3 months to create. BUT...it really has helped (dont tell anyone i said that...lol)well if your interested in my stuff, just shoot me an email, thanks thaliad00@yahoo.com
  • Susan Weeks said on September 4, 2010
    I started in this business in 1999 and I have had many challenges through the years. I started with little to no capital and very little planing. I am for profit, but discovered as I went along that this is a ministry. I would suggest you start by having yard sales every saturday or every saturday and sunday (check with local city hall regarding rules for frequent yard sales.) You might also start by renting a small booth at a nearby flea market. Remember this business is unique, most customers are not as interested with your set up or fancy design, as they are with your prices and product, so relax and think about profit versus debt! But if you just must have a building, rent a small building with utilities included and pay by the week to start, and offer to clean or do your own maintenance in exchange for security deposits. To get merchandise, visit storage auctions, estate sales, and yard sales. If you're doing antiques and collectibles, a visit to your local Goodwill, or Salvation Army and other small thrift stores bring good fines. Be creative with advertising, use the yard sale section to advertise your business, and to request merchandise as well. Use flyers, and business cards, and if you can afford to advertise more try to use christian stations, because it's for a good cause since most of them are non-profit and they are a good target audience as well. Keep things moving and don't get discourage, sell slow moving items on ebay, or graigs list if you have to, but try and sell everyday. Set a budget and stick to it (very important), practice excellent customer service and just keep trusting God and working hard! Enjoy!
  • Peter said on September 11, 2010
    Thank you for so many great ideas and the inspiration of so many incredibly nice and kind people. All of you have encouraged me to explore the opening of a thrift store.

    I have some money and I seek an entrepreneurial person who may want to partner with me to start and operate a for-proft thrift store in Northern Virginia. We can identify the social causes, churches, and non-profit groups that we want to financially support once we are up and running.

    Life is definitely a lot richer and more meaningful if you can make someone's life better and our collective efforts can strengthen families and communities. God bless all of you for your stories, advice, and messages of encouragement and inspiration. Thank you.
  • Steve S said on September 11, 2010
    Hi everyone. I am launching a company to offer Thrift Stores, Charities, Non-Profits and Consignment Shops the ability to offer online auctions and listings on their websites or as a stand-alone site. It has abilities to add additional revenue if you want to allow people or organizations in your community to post their items as well either as an auction or classified type for sale ad and collect a percentage or ad fee. I have owned retail stores for over 17 years and have learned it is always smart to add revenue streams to your business instead of depending on people to just walk through the front door. Email me for info or to see a sample site at: access.steve@gmail.com
  • Pat Strickland said on September 14, 2010
    Hello, I am interested in opening a thrift store in Huntsville, Alabama. I need ideas, budget info, license info, etc to get started. I would appreciate a caring and motivated person that is in the business and can help me get started. strickland.patricia@ymail.com
  • Abdul Saleh said on September 15, 2010
    Hello, For all who are interested to open a thrift store. I made a manual which was used by Goodwills and Salvation Army's to open stores from ground zero to opening day that includes but not limited to. Chose a location, store setup, processing of product, % of item, staff training, product needed on a daily basis. ETC>>>>>> Please let me know if you are interested Abdul@itstradingsolutions.com. NOTE: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A NOT PROFIT, STORES CAN BE FOR PROFIT AND WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS
  • Jay London said on October 5, 2010
    Looking at starting up a thrift store business in my village, memramcook NB.. I have a facility and lots of customer parking available. Need the basic information to get started and information on getting inventory..
  • Amber M said on October 14, 2010
    I am interested in more info on how to start my own for profit thrift store in Waterville, Ohio
  • Barbara Villavaso said on October 24, 2010
    I am interested in starting my own thrift store in Chicago, Illinois. I have no idea where to start or how I get the money to rent the space to open the store. I have had some financial problems in the past and had to file bankrupt. Is there any financial assistance for individuals who have filed bankrupt?
  • trisha said on October 26, 2010
    I am also planning to open a thrift store. I am unemployed, but have a husband with a really good job. I went to school for years. I got a degree, worked as a substitute elem teacher & cosmetologist. But health issues make it difficult for me to work for someone else and unemployment is high everywhere. I am a hard worker so I know I can do this. I have been praying about it & it feels right. My sister is a sign painter so the windows & signs will be taken care of. Going to thrift stores is a hobby of mine so I'm already knowledgeable on pricing. I just feel I have to much to offer to just sit at home. I will give free haircuts to homeless once a month. I will do whatever it takes. I am leaning towards a thrift for children right now, but will be taking 6 months or more to collect items and prepare a business plan. Please write to me if you just want to help each other with advice or to talk. Thanks & God Bless Tmoschella1@yahoo.com
  • lorna said on November 16, 2010
    I am currently involved in a non for profit organization called Sunlight of the Spirit in Chicago, IL. Our mission is to empower individuals who are homeless,disabled,recovering from addiction who have the desire to change. I oversee one of our many projects which is a small thrift store. Our goal is to help provide the basic human needs so individuals can focus their attention on other goals instead of the daily pursuit of survival. One of the challenges I am facing in running our thrift store is the continuous need of donations such as clothing, shoes, household goods, furniture etc. Any suggestions on how to continue receiving donations would be appreciated. Thanks and God Bless f1lorna@yahoo.com
  • Chris Kenrick said on December 4, 2010
    The last time I wrote on here was on July 22,2010, I am number 41. Now here is my update. I have opened my business, but some of the challenges I have had to face are: being in a different country (Playa del Carmen, Mexico), learning the language (spanish) and dealing with a new culture. My business has been open for about four months and we strictly focus on things for the house, hence the name of my store is la casa de los tesoros ( house of treasures). If you have any additional tips or advice on how to grow the business once it is established I would greatly appreciate it. I am making money, but in order to be sustainable I need to grow. Take care and I look forward to hearing from you. Chriskenrick195@gmail.com Playa del Carmen, Mexico Hasta luego
  • Jean-Maurice said on December 7, 2010
    Aurora, Colorado, Arapahoe County. I and my wife are considering to run a thrift store in Aurora where we live. This store should be a branch of the activities of our not profit organization. The specific purposes of our non profit organization should be :
    1. collecting used clothes and shoes, used equipments and diverse items and selling them to the public in Aurora. The proceeds would be used to finance research for epilepsy and other diseases in the State of Colorado.
    2. collecting used clothes and shoes, exporting them to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and distributing them to low-income families and retired people without financial resources.
  • William Hutton said on December 18, 2010
    I work at a non profit thrift store and God has laid it upon my heart to buy the current one or start one from scratch, the problem i see is i have no money for start up, whats available for people needing there down?
  • Ami said on December 20, 2010
    I live in western, pa and have been out of work for awhile. I have always wanted to open my own business but wasn't sure of exactly what. So I really started to listen to instincts. I visit the local thrift store every week, sometimes a few times a week looking for a good bargain to buy for my family. I have noticed that our local thrift store has department store prices. I am shocked to look on the rack at a gently worn spring jacket with a price tag of $29.99! In this economy who can afford to buy a used shirt for that much? I go there because times are tough and usually walk out empty handed because of their prices. I am 100% sure that I need to open an honest business that helps the community as much as provides me with an earning. After reading all of these great comments, I have realized what God has been pushing me to do. It's almost a new year and I now know what my resolution will be. Thank You all for such kind words of advice and encouragement. I will absolutely receive anymore advice from anyone's experiences. God Bless!
  • diane said on December 23, 2010
    orlando, florida...looking to open up my own thrift store. have no idea where to begin. as for getting a bank loan, do you have any tips on that? what kinds of things will be good for me to have laid out for them, what kinds of questions will they be asking and what kinds of answers will they be expecting from me. also, are there grants out there for opening a bznz?
  • Christy said on December 26, 2010
    God is AWESOME!! I seen these words mentioned twice; "where God leads, he provides"..wow..I needed to hear this! Thank you to all the above 1-68 who have taught me that there are a lot of good souls left in this world that have a lot of the same goals. I am very inspired & will not stop until this childhood dream of mine has been accomplished, to help & give back to my community & also to have something to pass on to my two boys! HAPPY NEW YEAR! Cheers to 2011~
  • Emma said on January 1, 2011
    Hi i would like to open up a thrift store in monmouth county new jeresy...i came to a point of my life its time to help people... i know how hard life can be and i want to help..i also would like to do a food drove can anyone help me out
  • charlene said on January 2, 2011
    hi my name is charlene me and my mom are trying to open a thrift store its been her and my grandmas dream so i'm trying to make there dream come true but we have little to none on the money situation are friends and family are helping with the donations we live in victorville, california i need some help like what documents i need and license help pls..thanks we appreciate any information my email is dirtgirlchar@gmail.com thanks everyone that owns a little bargain shop
  • Gail Weldon said on January 6, 2011
    Hello again folks. I have received to date over 75 phone calls so far from folks wanting advice on how to open a thrift shop. Since I only use a cell phone, I much prefer to receive emails and will do my best to answer them in a timely fashion. I know that God has called many others to open thrift shops and it is a good thing. Many people, even your family will discourage you from opening your own business right now. Let me remind you though, if God instructs you to do something, it can be done. Do not fear. God has not given a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Also, I am regularly asked how I accumulated merchandise. I totally believe that since God told me to open a store and in my heart, I did not want to charge too much, it was most appropriate for me to get the majority of my merchandise donated. Since that was the case, in my store, I was freed up to give away merchandise to the needy and charge a marginal amount of money to the rest of my customers. It was a miracle that I was able to stay open in this economy for 4 years. I just closed up for good 3 months ago, and am now going back to college. I learned a lot. I was unable to hire any help the entire time I was open, so I took in volunteers and paid them with merchandise to the tune of $3/hour with "stuff" and since I sold all clothing for only .25 cents per item, one could purchase a lot of goods for the money. My first two years, I sold all clothing items for only .10 cents. Persons began to hear about my very affordable prices and soon the community started to come in without me having to do any advertising. I did make my own business cards in the beginning, by dividing a 3x5 card in three parts and using a thin sharpie marker, wrote my store name,address, hours we are open and phone number. Also, to cut down costs, I used only a cell phone number and did not use a store (land line) telephone. Another way to cut costs is to purchase an older style pickup truck so you can do all of your own deliveries. Some people offered to help me with deliveries, but wanted too much money for the use of their truck, so I chose to do it myself. As a business, let the customer know that if they cannot come get their large furniture item and need delivery, there will be a small appropriate fee for the fuel. If you have specific questions and need some encouragement, please feel free to email me as I would much prefer to correspond that way and not so much thru my cell. Thanks for your interest. Yours in christ, GAIL /THE PACKRAT THRIFT SHOP.
  • Debbie said on January 22, 2011
    Hello, I live in a small town in upstate NY. A friend & I are interested in opening a for profit thrift store. We found a store in a great location. It is on a main road between 2 larger cities, there are other businesses there, a grocery store, restaurants, bank, library, computer store, an office to name a few. There are no other thrift stores & the people in the community must drive to one of the larger cities, which are over 10-25 miles away. The space is 1,200 sg. ft. rent is $1,200/month! A bit pricey. We are going to look at it & see if we can get the rent reduced. There are a few other spots in the same town, we are not going to jump on the 1st place we see. I have read many online sites with advice on how to start. I am interested in any ideas/suggestions/opinions any of you have to offer. Thank you in advance, Debbie
  • xong said on January 24, 2011
    I am looking for 3-4 month free rent to start out my thrift store in sacramento, ca area. I want to start out a place for opening thrifty shop to try out and find out how is the business grow at first and if it is going well, then I will rent the place for my thrifty business after 3-4 month try out. If anybody can offer a free space for me to try out for3-4 month free then please email me at nkaujntxhoo@gmail.com 916-248-0755 Thank You
  • nathaniel Brown said on January 24, 2011
    I am interested as I noted in all the other questions posed in how to get started in starting, setting up etc. a Thrift Shop. What are the licensing regulations, etc. Also this one would be an outreach of a church and what are the requirements related to that type business? I am in Augusta, Richmond County,GA, USA. Any information given would not be too much because of the lack on my part. Thanks in advance for the help.
  • Vida said on February 5, 2011
    I am interested in owning a thrift shop. I am considering to only specialize in children's clothing, shoes, toys and books. I just don't know where to start first. I wonder how would I afford rent and maintain inventory while working? How do I price items without overpricing and underpricing? Is it best to use a business plan and why? What are the pro's and con's of this business. Do I need retail experience in order to succeed? What type of business license do I need to obtain? I would appreciate any knowledge because some is better than non. Please contact me to give some info on the business @ dpoles001@yahoo.com
  • Jerry said on February 5, 2011
    I am the owner of several very successful thrift shops. They are non-profit and benefit AIDS/HIV education awareness. I started my first business with literally nothing. It was hard at first but donations will quickly come TO YOU if you set your shop in a VERY visible location. I cannot emphasize enough: DO NOT OPEN A BUSINESS IN A BAD LOCATION! You will need proper local lic. depending on whether you are non-profit or for profit. People often make the mistake of only selling clothing or only one type of thing....big mistake. Every person who comes into your store will buy anything you sell..by limiting yourself, you are losing money. There are Govt grants available. That is complicated and I suggest you hire a Grant Writer to write a proposal. The nice thing about grants is they do not have to be repaid. Make sure your shop benefits the community. You can take volunteers, but always be sure to have loyal full-time employees scheduled. Do not sell broken or stained items. That's not just a business killer but plain gross. Good luck.
  • Macleod said on February 18, 2011
    My wife and I are looking into the pro's & con's of owning a thrift store in the Vancouver Canada area. We have a special needs daughter who is coming of age and we know that we're going to have to think out of the box. It would affording her a lively hood if not just in the form of part time employment. I think managing a established shop might be one way to go. Learning from the inside out. Working out of a 5 ton at swap meets and out door markets on weekends to start with, going to the crowds. Although that would be the investment of a 5 ton, parking, insurance which I guess equals write offs? Just spit ball'n here but would enjoy any feed back or suggestion, related sites. Great posts I'll be back, please keep up dating, it's inspiring to hear how others with the bug are doing. Cheers Macleod
  • William Bowman said on February 19, 2011
    how much space should i be looking for and what price range should i be looking at to pay for the store. Also can i get started with 25k. I will be opening up in md
  • evelyn said on February 22, 2011
    Hi me and my husband are interested in opening a thrift store, we been searching for locations in a very visible area, but would like to know is there a special license for thrift store.
  • Vicki said on February 22, 2011
    My name for my Thrift store is going to be Back on the Racks I really want to open a shop in virginia beach can you help me with my steps i have to take and a price list its my dream and i want to get my goals going thank you vicki
  • Dianne said on February 23, 2011
    I am in need of information on opening a Second hand store. I have tons of inventory, my problem is location and how to obtain license, as well as maybe some financing until I get it going well. The location will be in Alabama. I know it will do well as with the economy so bad people are always looking for a bargain.
  • Sarah said on February 25, 2011
    I am in Phoenix, AZ - working for a non-profit that is writing a business plan to open a thrift store to help our clients better. We have a building, staff, volunteers, and items to sell. All we need is board approval through an awesome business plan -- does anyone have any they can email me, so I can know what to go off?? I am having trouble with the numbers part, how to estimate what you would make monthly... any advice, tips, start up numbers, paperwork, plans you can share?? I would love to hear it... contact through email only, thanks in advance
  • gigi said on February 27, 2011
    Hi I live in Reston, Virginia. What laws and licensing do I need to have, in order to run a for profit thrift store.
  • Linda said on March 2, 2011
    Hello all! I too am interested in opening up a thrift store (for profit) in CA. I have done some research already but would love to hear what you think the first 3-4 things are that should be done in getting this type of business off the ground. Where to start is the big question. Also, like Sarah (#84), does anyone have any business plans to share, just to get an idea of what I should be putting together. Any and all help would be sincerely appreciated!
  • eddey said on March 2, 2011
    hey! diane I live in NY and looking to start a thrift shop in Orlando cause i'm thinking of relocating there. Maybe we can join ventures and open one as partners.
  • Lee said on March 10, 2011
    I am in north Atlanta. Rents start at 15 per sq foot in a decent area. The fixtures are expensive also. So rent and deposit in a high viability area is around $3600. fixtures, insurance, inventory got a cost $5000. 1500 sq feet is not much. Can I even make a profit with these numbers?
  • DAN said on March 21, 2011
    I am in Apache Junction AZ. I am going to open my variety thrift shop. I just need help finding start up capital, So if anyone has any ideas where to look please let me no? thanks
  • daryl tobin said on March 25, 2011
    i am in torbay newfoundland, looking to start a thrift store, how would i go about it
  • Dorothy said on March 25, 2011
    HI I WANT TO OPEN A THRIFT STORE IN CINCINNATI, OHIO FOR TO ENJOY SHOPPING AT A LOW PRICE I REALLY WOULD LOVE TO DO THIS IF ANYONE HAVE INFORMATION PLEASE FORWARD.
  • dan escalera said on April 3, 2011
    need to know what licensing is needed in Minnesota specifically or where to find the info,thanks in advance.
  • herlinda herrera said on April 5, 2011
    Please forward any information about opening a thrift store here in san antonio, texas and any licenses I need. Thanks
  • Rosanne West said on April 20, 2011
    Hi I live in Houston,Tx it is a dream of mine to open a thrift store. I know how yo purchase the items but I dont know if I need a special license to open a shop? I have very limited funds and I am a single parent. God has put this in my heart to do this. What do you do first? I know you need a dba in Texas, but do you need a special license in texas? Should I be non profit? Please help! Email me at Rosannewest@rocketmail.com any information will be helpful. I will return all emails.(: Thank you! Irish Gal
  • April said on April 28, 2011
    Yes, I was wondering if opening a thrift store had to be for non-profit? Everyone I have ever been to is, either for GCF, animals, or batteried women shelters, which I certainly would not mind donating a portion to a good cause, but just wondered if it had to be. Thank you.
  • Valerie beginner adviser said on April 30, 2011
    I run a thrift store in Largo Florida called "The Buzz." To help other looking for assistance I would say that each state has different rules regarding non-profits and licensing. Your first step is to hook up with a church or charity and then use their 501c to continue. I agree with the poster that said location is EVERYTHING! Good location beats cheap, rent every time. You don't need a lot of startup $$ if you are smart. I spent $750 to furnish all shelving for the 5200sq store. Search craigslist, etc. Most places will let you negotiate a rental that will start in 3 months so that you have time to set up. Feel free to email me questions- I'd love to help-Valerie
  • Chris said on May 9, 2011
    This website is AMAZING! I am looking at opening a thrift store in Southern California. I found a location that would be PERFECT!! My question to all you owner is... how much is too much rent?? The location is 2700 square feet. What is reasonable? Thank You!
  • Rebecca said on May 10, 2011
    I'm a young teen mom, who is much need. I constantly shop at thrift stores in order to put clothes on my baby's back. I am so grateful for places like these. That I would like to open my own. But i'm not sure if I need licenses or permits any help or guidance would help thanks beckycrz@yahoo.com -God Bless
  • Abdul beginner adviser said on May 10, 2011
    Hello All, Unfortunately, the manual can only be used for stores that are 27000 sqft and more, its well not help at all to smaller traditional store, but here is some info that might be helpful:
    1. You do not have to be non profit to open a Thrift store.
    2. Store average sale revenue should be anywhere from $ 30 per sqf to 50 per sqf, depends on size and location
    3. Do not keep same items in store for more than 3 weeks
    4. You should have Credential clothing ( collected or donated clothing and shoes , etc) available on a consistence basis, keep the flow of product in to rotate items on the shelves
    5. Rent should not exceed 10% of the sales for example (if your sales are $ 100,000 a year your rent should not be more than $ 10, 000 a year.
    6. Advertisements is very important to bring customers in
    7. Community relation ship
    8. NO DISCOUNT on Sales on grand opening day
    9. I will be more than happy to answer some question regarding thrift stores,
  • Scott said on May 20, 2011
    I have a 1500SF beautiful retail space in the following address: Crystal Lake, IL, 60014. I have interest to run a resale/consignment store looking for partner with experiences. Please call 630-339-6968 if interested.
  • Lisa said on June 4, 2011
    I am relocating from Los Angeles to a very small missippi own soon and was considering opening a thrift store, as it has always been a dream of mine. I was wondering if any of you out there have any experience with thrift stores in small towns and if you feel one could be successful. I have a non-profit but really don't know how this matters as we'll still have to pay rent and other expenses.
  • Blue said on June 6, 2011
    I am very pleased to find this website, I believe GOD dropped this idea to start up a thrift shop in my small community. My Hope is that it will help single moms and TEEN moms to be able to afford nice clothing for a low price there selves and their children. I will be praying for confirmation keep me in your prayers, I do not want to be stuck in the typical "american job" I know it's not what GOD called me to do , the thrift store will help me to help many many people. Excited about the idea! please send tips and advice about starting with no money?
  • Ellie said on June 8, 2011
    I am a fifteen years old and i am interested in opening my own thrift shop however, i dont know where to begin or here can i get money .
  • ione said on June 24, 2011
    i would like to open a thrift shop, but i would like to find out all details of the right way to go about doing so, i know that i would be very good in it because i am a people person, and have a good personality, so could you please get back soon with and answer thank you.
  • Ray Holloway said on June 27, 2011
    HazelWood, Mo. I would like to open a Thrift Store. Can you please help me with some info??
  • Delano said on June 28, 2011
    @Abdul do you actually own a thrift shop and if so in what area? I would like any assistance to help me with getting my idea of opening a thrift shop.
  • FAITH said on July 7, 2011
    HAZLTON, PA. I'M LOOKING TO OPEN A THRIFT STORE IN MY COMMUNITY. I'M LOOKING TO MAKE A PROFIT. IS IT HARD TO GET STARTED. I WAS THINKING TO RUN IT FOR MY EMPLOYMENT. IF ANYONE HAS INFO.PLEASE LET ME KNOW. THANK YOU

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