ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Right Way to Open a Thrift Store!

Updated on July 13, 2012

Merchandise Bought for $.10 a pound

Thrift store about to open.  Merchandise bought for $430
Thrift store about to open. Merchandise bought for $430

How to get merchandise for a Thrift Store!


Everyone whether they admit it or not shops thrift stores so why not open your own. Many people open consignment store because they do not know how to get merchandise for their store any other way. In this article I will lay out a way to get quality merchandise for pennies on the dollar. People are use to donating their used or unwanted clothes to thrifts run by charities across the country. Many people do not even know that these thrift stores only give a small percentage of the money to the charity that is on the door. They are run for profits and big profit at that.


I have helped set up thrift stores across this country for people and organizations from all walks of life. The major problem in starting a thrift store is where to get and keep getting good merchandise. If you have a charity to affiliate your business with in order to get donations of goods. Then this is a great way to do it. For most people they do not want to go to the legal steps necessary to take donations and advertise a charities name on their door while being a for profit business. It is not that difficult to set up because I do this on a regular basis but it is not necessary.


I started several years ago helping people start thrift stores by advertising to buy clothing for a few cents a pound. Usually about four to five weeks before the store opens I have them put ads on sites like craigslist and other local internet posting sites. The ad reads simply “Wanted Used Clothing-Will come to your home and pick up. We pay $.10 a pound-Cash paid on spot”. Be sure to list a phone number as well. If you do not want to go to their homes you can have them come to your future store. I have found that going to the homes is a much better way to get started and the merchandise is a better mix. Now you can advertise to buy other products like furniture and household items if you wish. It has been my experiences that when you buy their used clothes and shoes for $.10 or whatever number you come up with that is fair for your area that if you ask if they have anything they wish to donate. You will get the other items.


You will need a SUV, pickup or other type truck to make the pick-ups because when you are buying a few hundred pounds of clothes it takes up room. Usually within two weeks in most areas 5 to 10 thousand pounds of clothes and shoes can be purchased. Let us say you buy 10,000 pounds of clothes and shoes for $.10 a pound that would be $1,000 dollars. The average is about 3 items per pound so you would have 30,000 or so items of clothing to sell. Shoes weigh around 1 pound to 5 pounds depending on whether they are children’s, men’s or women’s. That gives you a cost basis for your clothing of around $.03 per item. Now you will have some of the clothes that are not suitable for reselling and those should be saved. Anything you cannot resell can be saved up and sold to rag businesses. Large thrift stores sell a container of rag clothes for around $.20 a pound. Large thrift stores also sell most of the clothing that is donated to them in container form to wholesale operations that pay around $.30 to $.60 a pound for the clothing then resale it small consignment or thrift stores by the item or several dollars a pound.


By purchasing clothing direct from people you cut out the middleman and set your business up to make huge profits. Even if you sold your clothing for an average of say $2.00 an item you are making a huge profit margin. As you are picking up the clothing you are should also collect email addresses and phone numbers. This is your start of a marketing base to send weekly emails to drive business.


Thrift stores are profitable but like anything you can have the huge profit margins of a thrift store that runs the way I described and still not make it if you do not plan a great marketing structure. Word of mouth is the best and by using this way to buy your merchandise you will get the word out fast.


When you start to set up the store you will need fixtures and racks. These are expensive if you buy them used or new. For thrift store remember you do not need a department store look. So when I buy racks and fixtures for stores that I am setting up I first ask local chain stores if they have racks they are getting rid of and I drive behind the local strip malls to see what has been put next to the dumpsters. By doing this I would say 90% of the fixtures and racks can be gotten if you start around two months before you open. What you cannot find then go online to liquidation auctions and you usually can find fixtures for a few dollars. As a last resort I would go to fixture dealers because you will pay threw the noise and a pretty fixture in a thrift store does not make you money. Hangers are another big expense and these can be gotten the same way I described getting the fixtures by going to local chain clothing stores and asking for them. If they say no their dumpsters always have lots of hangers. Most stores do not reuse the hangers and simply throw them away when someone does not want the hanger.


If you have any questions please post a comment with an email and I will try to get your question answered. A 2,000 to 5,000 square foot store opened the way I have described usually can be opened for around $10,000. Most of that expense is taken up with rent, paint, advertising, cash register and other non-merchandise items. If you have most of these items then you can open for little of nothing.


Good luck!


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • bankscottage profile image

      bankscottage 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      RichSims, welcome to HubPages. Great Hub with the nuts and bolts of how To start a Thrift Store. I recently wrote a Hub about why we should all shop at Thrifts. One section talks about opening a thrift. I'll link your Hub to it. Thanks.

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 4 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      Wow, this is a very good overview of what one needs to start a thrift shop! I enjoy shopping at thrift shops from time to time. it is fun, because you never know what you will find, and you can actually buy it without losing ore than a few bucks. Very informative!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      As a frequent shopper of thrift stores for books, music and odds and ends I found this hub interesting. We have a few independent thrift stores in Florida. Most of them are operated by Goodwill or churches. Thanks for the information. Welcome to HubPages. If you need any help feel free to visit the Learning Center.

    • profile image

      XRain 4 years ago

      Mr.RichSims,

      thank You for the brilliant advice!

      We are thinking to open a thrift shop in Staten Island, and are looking for a low-cost space. What are Your suggestions - how to find it.

      XRainDancer@Verizon.net

    • profile image

      Daniel 4 years ago

      thank You for the advice!

      i have a questions please email hers4coures.info@gmail.com

    • profile image

      Denise 4 years ago

      I opened a thrift store three years ago. The town I live in is hard I'm still hanging in there but if you have any sugestions please I would love to know.

    • profile image

      zake 4 years ago

      Thanks for the information. Do I need a regulare business license to open a trift store?

    • joe-christmas profile image

      Malek Zarzour 4 years ago from Turkey, Istanbul

      thank you for sharing this useful info..

    • profile image

      kara 4 years ago

      What kind of deductions do thrift shops have? Like advertising, rent, clothing donations?

    • profile image

      Ann 4 years ago

      i am thinking of Opening a children and moms Thtift store in NY Hudson Valley area?? What would be the best way for me to get feedback on the town or area inregards to opening a thrift store is there a place online were I can put ad add and get some feedback before morn the store in that area??

    • profile image

      superliquidators 4 years ago

      Great INFO...Do you offer consulting on how to open a thrift? My wife is thinking about opening a thrift store here in Florida. If you do please contact me at raybartolo1@gmail.com

      Thanks

      Ray

    • profile image

      sklyles 4 years ago

      Would you email me to discuss consulting?

      sklyles@yahoo.com

    • profile image

      ISANDY 4 years ago

      Thanks for such great info...Can you share some info on opening a thrift shop within a church---non profit organization...We are looking to raise funds for our after school program and the idea of a thrift shop looks promising....how do i get this started?

    • profile image

      Gina Brito 4 years ago

      I have a few questions about opening a Profit or Non Profit Thrift store. Could you please email me at ladygina1969@yahoo.com Thank You very much for your article.

    • profile image

      Kevin 4 years ago

      I am with a donation only thrift store that needs a boost in sales, how do you think a purchase plan would work with an established store? Would it work doing both donation and purchasing?

      Kogerkennel@yahoo.com

    • geissingert profile image

      Rhonda 4 years ago

      Rich- I sent you a personal e-mail. I am hoping you would look at it and hopefully respond. Love the information you shared. I am totally fired up! Please let me know if you received it. Looking forward to hearing from you.

      Rhonda

    • geissingert profile image

      Rhonda 4 years ago

      Rich- I sent you a personal e-mail. I am hoping you would look at it and hopefully respond. Love the information you shared. I am totally fired up! Please let me know if you received it. Looking forward to hearing from you. rgeissinger@gmail.com

      Rhonda

    • profile image

      Mindi 4 years ago

      Hello, my husband and I are considering opening a thrift store. You said that affiliating with a charity to get donations was not too difficult to set up. Could you outline the process involved with this?

      Thanks!

      -Mindi

      -mindilewis@cox.net

    • profile image

      admckenney 4 years ago

      I am looking to open a thriftstore in Texas, and would like some ideass or help with setting it up, I would also like to designate a portion of the proceed to two separate charities, can you do that? If so How do I do it, and can I get a 501 status with just a sponsorship from the church. Please return my email at admckenney@yahoo.com. ThAnks for your help.

    • profile image

      Gina 4 years ago

      Hi Rhonda , No I never got a response back from Mr. Sims . :/ Sorry it took long to answer back.

    • profile image

      JR 4 years ago

      I am interested in opening a thrift store in NJ. I need help in getting started. I have 15k to invest, I also have mannequins and showcases, I'm just lacking in knowledge....please someone help!

    • profile image

      JR 4 years ago

      My email address is

      Jrosa_1998@yahoo.com

    • profile image

      Chad 4 years ago

      Great post. I have a question for you. How do you overcome the same local customers that come in week after week? After they know what you have they stop coming as often or only looking and unless you can switch out your whole inventory every week your sales drop drastically. Advertisement gets expensive and it only draws the thrift store shopper locally as there are thrift stores on just about every corner now days. You can email me if you can help with these questions. (shl796@aol.com)

    • profile image

      armard 3 years ago

      here is my email for the information on the bridal thrift store. rashard2883@gmail.com

    • profile image

      Cinderella 3 years ago

      This is my second time operating a thrift shop. I've been in business a year & have outgrown my space. My problem is getting the $$ to be able to move & for advertising/signage. Do you have any tips on getting some financing/loan/grant. (hopefully not based on credit score :(

    • profile image

      Cinderella 3 years ago

      oops forgot my email for reply to financing question

      Cinderellas_closet 2012@yahoo.com

      Thanks for all the great info

    • profile image

      Ali 3 years ago

      I am opening a thrift store relatively soon and I have a few questions. I understand that you are being overwhelmed with emails. When you have a chance please email me at alimunafkanchwala@gmail.com. Thanks for your advice, great article!

    • profile image

      Rob 3 years ago

      Interested in more information on this. Send me an email please rob.moise@gmail.com

    • profile image

      Sam 3 years ago

      Hi Rich,

      I am interested in opening a thrift store in my area. Would you be available to consult with me on this? I would appreciate it. samrthrift@gmail.com

      Sam

    • profile image

      Abby 3 years ago

      I am a retail manager and have been for 16 years now. I have been thinking about opening my own thrift store beings I have a "Shop Keeper" mind set, but I need info on profit and non profit organizations. Please help. Email me at alwayzabby2011@gmail.com if you can help.

    • profile image

      Lorena 3 years ago

      Hi

      I have a question about opening a thrift store. My family has been saving a big amount of clothing and so many things that can be sold to people that can find a good use to them. The problem is that we don't know where to open a thrift store or how to open one and like some advice.

    • profile image

      Sandy 3 years ago

      What most people who donated to the big thrift stores don't know is that most and not selling items are given to the dump and not to an organization that could distribute the unwanted items to people in need that have no money also any cells or computer stuff is given to an other retailer to refurbish and sold at close to or the same price as New not what I would expect if I donated my cell I would want someone to be Abel to purchase it at a low affordable cost

    • profile image

      aaronb 3 years ago

      Look at how many people come in to buy vs browse

    • profile image

      Danielle 3 years ago

      Hi, I'm quite young and I've been thinking about what I would like to do with my future, and this idea seems just perfect for me. I was wondering if there was any state that would be more profitable for a thrift shop? I would like to discuss this more. My email is danielleflaherty1308@gmail.com thank you :)

    • profile image

      OddsEndz 3 years ago

      Good day, I am in the process of opening a thrift store. I had hoped to have my opening at the end of this month but weather and other situations have set that date back. I would like to have a long standing question answered if you could. I have a for profit (not a 501c) store and have a substantial amount of start up inventory. I get a lot of items donated off the internet, from auction houses, and flea market type sales. My question is how do I keep track of my inventory for income tax purposes? Is this necessary? I have received a lot of conflicting information on this and have not been successful in finding an adequate answer. I've been told everything from I need to have every single item accounted for, (which seems completely ridiculous to me since that would equate to tens of thousands of items), to I can group items into lots and keep a running inventory this way (of which I still have some confusion about). If you have any suggestions I would greatly appreciate you help. Danielle at odds_endz@yahoo.com

    • profile image

      Mike Yarbrough 3 years ago

      Great post! I'm considering purchasing a fuunctional thrift shop and am curious if you might know of any good, less expensive software to manage inventory, revenue and sales trends. Also, might you be available for consulting in the Dallas area? Please let me know.

      Mikey_Yarbro@yahoo.com

    • profile image

      Richard Ubinas 3 years ago

      I am interested in opening up a thrift shop and i need to know how to buy the clothing.

    • profile image

      Richard Ubinas 3 years ago

      I am intrested to open up a thrift shop and i need to know how to buy the clothing.

      Thank You. call me 1-347-507-0032

      call anytime.

    • profile image

      annette 3 years ago

      i am interested in opening a shop....i have three storage bins full of so much inventory, i am bursting at the seams! now i need a store front and tons of ideas to make my dream a reality. please help me ....i am in cleveland my email is axc101@gmail.com thanks.

    • profile image

      Zach S 3 years ago

      RichSims,

      I'd love if you emailed me as I have some questions regarding, not a thrift store, but actually an exchange.

      email is zachary.scheiner@gmail.com

      All the best,

      Zach

    • profile image

      Sherrie Wright 3 years ago

      I am trying to open a Thrift Shop in Florida. I am working on my Business Plan for proposal for a Business Grant. Is asking for $30,000 or $50,000 too much to ask as a new business owner? I have 6 years of experience in Sales.

    • profile image

      Marie Foster 3 years ago

      I have try Craiglist and every time I post an ad I get no replies at all by e-mail or phone So I think Craiglist is another scam ad place

    • profile image

      Marie Foster 3 years ago

      New Update Craiglist do find now

    • profile image

      Garry 3 years ago

      Hi rich, first of I have to thank you for so much info on one page, info that would take a multitude of different we page to find. I want to start up a trift store it would not be non profit. Saying that I would like to donate money each month to a different charity each month. How would I go about this? If you have the time I would appreciate your profession input. Gazzmanian1@aol.com. Thanks Garry

    • profile image

      debbie 3 years ago

      Hi I'm now running a thrift store for my church.no one has interest and never has.my pastor has said on several ocassions maybe you should just close that thing down.Well it has been a help to many families.I was just wondering if I close it down would it be better to open it as a non profit and I get a pay or just open it for my own business and still give to them that need? I have run it for about eight years with no pay . My family is in need of a paycheck yet I still want to help those in need .please help me to do the rite thing like I said church doesn't care and suggest I close it.

    • profile image

      diana rivera 3 years ago

      i have been in this business for almost 25 years its not truth everything this people its saying that takes to open a thrift store....there its not a such of thing of buying 10 cents a pound.....its 40 cents to 60 cents a pound....you need to know the market,the area that you are,location,good merchandise,the proper rag out...etc...its not that easy...but its possible to make a lot of money if you have the knowledge,the capital,location and the good merchandise.

    • profile image

      rahina 2 years ago

      I will like to collect used clothes to help schooling in Africa .Please give me advices at rboureima13@gmail.com

      Thank you.

    • Chris Collier profile image

      Chris Collier 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      can you help us with our new and up coming (to be opened soon)

      Thanks

    • profile image

      Jennifer 2 years ago

      This article was very interesting and very helpful. My husband and I have a little money put back from a car wreck we were in. I'm a huge yard seller and have always wanted to start a thrift store. I am looking at doing a fairly large store with a section for clothing, furniture, household items, etc. My question would be, once your business is established, what kind of income can you expect to make? I would need to hire at least one employee and pay myself a small paycheck. My husband has seen many thrift stores come and go and he's paranoid that we might not make it, but I have great amount of sales, customer service, and marketing experience. Can you email me some advice please. My email address is jenelectra@yahoo.com. Thanks for all the help.

    • profile image

      Lynn 2 years ago

      Hw do you pair with. Charity. BRATEVARO@HOTMAIL.COM

    • profile image

      Sandra 2 years ago

      Hi, I have lots of questions about opening my own thrift store. For a 700 sf space with lots of traffic, what kind of revenue should I expect to make? Is there a network or list of local designers to contact about selling new items also? Up front cost? My email address is sandraberto@yahoo.com. Thanks for any help you can provide. Are you still in the business of helping peoples set up shop?

    • profile image

      Tia 2 years ago

      I'm in the beginning stages to opening up my own thrift store. I never thought of buying the clothes in bulk would really like to know more. Rotia332@gmail.com

    • CaitlynBeamish profile image

      Caitlyn 2 years ago from Dover, Ohio

      Im interested in some information and advice. I would be very appreciative! caitlynbeamish@gmail.com

    • profile image

      Ozzie 2 years ago

      I'm trying to open a thrift store but out of the country,I just need help finding good merchandise like what the thrift stores sale. This is my e-mail izziemontes87@yahoo.com I would appreciate some help.

    • profile image

      Ozzie 2 years ago

      I'm trying to open a thrift store but out of the country,I just need help finding good merchandise like what the thrift stores sale. This is my e-mail izziemontes87@yahoo.com I would appreciate some help.

    • profile image

      Mona 2 years ago

      Hi, im in the beginning stage of considering opening a thrift shop in Florida and could use some guidance. Please email me at Mightymo163@yahoo.com Thanks

    • profile image

      Tony G. 2 years ago

      My question is if I open a thrift store as a non-profit and donate a percentage to a charity, am I able to profit the rest or can I personally only profit being a for profit thrift store. I want to be able to accept donations to help the community and give the tax break. I believe this will also help in keeping inventory flowing into the store. I am in Texas, please respond to tonygomez711@yahoo.com. Any help appreciated, thank you.

    • profile image

      Tamika Perry 2 years ago

      I have a non profit tax exempt organization and I am the process of opening a thrift store. Would you please email, I have a few questions. Friendslikeme@ymail.com

    • profile image

      djones 2 years ago

      Thank you for the information , I would like to. Set up a clothing thrift store in Florida and I am affiliated whit a NGO in Africa , please can I have your help at bbranco210@gmail.com .

      Please

      Thank you very much

    • profile image

      Kay 23 months ago

      hello... Is it possible to speak to you to ask questions?

    • profile image

      Kimberly 18 months ago

      We are a non profit looking to open a thrift store. We would really appriciate some more ideas and insight. If you have time please email me. Kimberlyroy@hotmail.com

    • profile image

      Duane 18 months ago

      Hello. I have an opportunity to lease 4000 sq ft for 1200 a month on a corner that has 8000 cars drive by a day. I have enough inventory to fill it up. Think Ill make money?

    • profile image

      shalonda 17 months ago

      i have questions about keeping inventory and tax deductions

    • profile image

      Patrice Turner 16 months ago

      I am interested in opening a charity based thrift store of my own. In Georgia do you think i should take classes on starting new businesses. And your article is very helpful.

    • profile image

      fuentes 15 months ago

      just go online google HOW TO ___.... and you'll find all your answers, a little bit of research can go a long way

    • profile image

      Patricia Bosley 15 months ago

      I'm recently unemployed, I'm 50 years old having a hard time finding employment. I always wanted to open my own thrift store. Any advice

    • profile image

      Patricia Bosley 14 months ago

      bosleypatricia@yahoo.com

    • profile image

      Aeysha watson 14 months ago

      I'm interested in opening my own thrift shop. I enjoyed reading your post, one of the best I've read online so far. You gave so much detail and really made alot of important steps to take.

      My email is cataplang@gmail.com

    • profile image

      Jason Brandon 13 months ago

      I too am looking to open a non-profit thrift store in East Texas. I have a few questions I would like to ask you. I appreciate your time and any information you can share with me.

      jasonbrandon08@gmail.com

    • profile image

      Eunice Jean-Marie 10 months ago

      Great article. I have a few questions as well.

    • profile image

      Ed 9 months ago

      I am interested in opening a thrift store and I do have already two storage full of merchandise, but the main issue for me is the high rent prices for a small store front. Any idea? Also what are the legal requirements. Thanks

    • profile image

      Paul 6 weeks ago

      Do you recommend industrial size washer and dryer to best prepare clothing for sale?

    • profile image

      Monica 5 weeks ago

      Hi Rich,

      Wow, this validates my research! Thanks for your experienced input! I'm considering the idea to support our local community: Animal Shelter and Single parents in hardship, in Arizona.

      I would appreciate your thoughts on this..I'm at tinytoeschildcare@hotmail.com.

      Thanks again,

      Monica :)

    Click to Rate This Article