April 20, 2024

There has never been a more ideal time to open a thrift shop. Thrifted items are now a popular sustainable alternative for clothing, accessories, kitchenware, and recreational items.

Though opening a thrift store can follow a similar process as opening a retail business, it comes with unique challenges and opportunities- especially when sourcing inventory without traditional wholesale options.

We are here to guide you through these processes and provide support for launching your thrift shop business successfully.

How to start a thrift shop or online thrift store

After you develop a business plan and register your thrift shop as a company, you are ready to take the next step in opening your store.

The process is similar whether you are looking to open an online thrift shop or a physical store. Here are some basic steps to get you going.

Open a business account.

It is essential to open a bank account specifically for your thrift shop. This will make keeping your finances separate and tracking your profits easier. Shop for the bank with the best rates and features to suit small business owners.

Donate to your local thrift store.

Owning a secondhand store is it profitable? Yes, it can! How much does it cost you to open a secondhand store? The cost of opening a thrift store varies based on your inventory, where it will be located, and other operational costs. However, obtaining a Small Business Loan can be highly beneficial.

You can find alternative ways to raise funds for your business that don’t involve a loan.

  • Friends and family can provide loans
  • Crowdfunding campaigns
  • Investors are needed to secure the investment

Brand your business

  • Remember that personality is essential, particularly with the rise in secondhand shops, which increased by 28% in 2022. This has led to a massive influx of competition within this space.
  • Remember to remember the story that your brand is telling and how you want it to appeal to customers when you create a business name.
  • By securing your brand identity, you can differentiate yourself from the competition by ensuring that all these elements are connected strategically before launching your thrift shop.
  • Brand identity is the building of your brand.
    • Brand Logo
    • Color palette
    • Business name
    • Website design
    • Style of your store

Discover your niche

  • You can create a niche for your thrift shop by focusing on a particular style, period, or category. You can sell minimalist kitchenware, specialize in mid-century furniture, or curate old clothing. It is essential to discover your passions to set your shop apart.
  • If you know your niche, you can source more carefully for your thrift shop. This will help you to build a community of loyal customers who rely on you for the unique thrift finds in a particular category.

Find a location

  • Before opening a brick-and-mortar store, consider hosting pop-up shops or tabling at local maker markets.
  • You can use this to see what types of items customers are most interested in and where they tend to be the most active. It will also help your business get its name out there. Opening a thrift shop or online thrift store with an audience in place can be a great way to make it a success.

Source inventory

  • What is the source of thrift store inventory? You can quickly source stock for your thrift shop by visiting garage sales, estate sales, and flea markets and accepting donations from the local community.
  • You can also check online auctions for hidden gems worth buying and reselling for a profit. Aim to purchase items priced at 50% less than your expected sales price for your shop.

Select a POS system.

  • It may seem like an insignificant step, but not all POS systems and methods of collecting money from clients are equally effective.
  • You should look for a thrift shop POS system that can do more than facilitate transactions. It must also be able to measure profitability, schedule employees’ shifts, and streamline operations.


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