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Secondhand Smart: How To Open Your Own Thrift Store

thrift store For many people, visiting a thrift store is like going on a treasure hunt. Fascinating items occupy these stores’ shelves, all waiting to be snatched up by a frugal shopper. More Americans find their budgets simply don’t stretch as far as they once did, and many of them have turned to thrift stores for everyday shopping. Many businesses in the United States continue to struggle, but thrift stores across the nation are booming. Bargain hunters and those who have a passion for vintage or unusual clothing and decor flock to thrift stores daily to seek out incredible deals on a variety of items, and this means money in the bank for thrift store owners. Experts say thrift stores and resale shops are thriving as shoppers looking for a good deal turn to more inexpensive options. If you’re interested in owning your own business and have a passion for seeking out the best merchandise, a thrift store might be right for you. Here's how to do it.

Getting Started: Establish Business Plan and Budget.

The first step to owning a business of any kind is to establish a business plan and a budget. Assess the needs of the community you’ll be operating in, and learn how many other shops and businesses will be your competition. Visit those shops and learn more about their prices and style of business, and decide what you can do to stand out.

Get a Business License and Insurance.

Visit your city’s business office and learn more about obtaining the proper business license. Once you have secured your licenses you’ll need to purchase insurance to cover your merchandise against theft. Your insurance also needs to cover your customers in case they are injured in your store.

Find the Perfect Location.

You’ll need to seek out the perfect location or store front. Choose a place with high traffic and visibility but doesn’t exceed your budget.  Some thrift store entrepreneurs choose to work in flea markets or farmer’s markets, or they choose to operate solely online, or they opt for a combination of these vending strategies. Be aware licensing and other legalities can vary, so it’s best to seek the advice of an attorney or other business expert before you begin.

Sourcing Your Merchandise.

Once you’ve determined where and how your thrift store business will operate it’s time to find your merchandise. There are many different options available, so have your business and marketing plans in mind when you begin. One common misconception about thrift stores is all the merchandise is used, but that is not always the case. Many retailers offer incredible deals on new merchandise in bulk, and this can be a boon for thrift stores. You can buy products like inexpensive yet trendy sunglasses by the dozen, purchase discontinued clothing directly from manufacturers, or peruse online auctions for new items in bulk. Other merchandise sourcing options can include storage facility auctions, garage sales, estate sales, going out of business sales at local shops, and merchandise liquidation sales. Keep your eyes peeled for designer brands and other items that might sell quickly, and for a high price. Consignment is another way to stock your shelves. You simply display items others are selling, and you receive a predetermined percentage of the profit when the sale is completed. As always, be conscious of the condition all items are in, and whether you think those items have resale value. The last thing your store needs is merchandise that doesn’t sell, which can lead customers to think your stock is not up to par.

Make Your Business Prosper.

As with any business, the right marketing strategy can make all the difference. Be certain to adequately assess the needs of your clients and the area where you are located. Make your operating hours convenient for your customers, and hire enough employees to meet the demand. Rotate your merchandise regularly, and add new items as often as possible. Keep your prices competitive yet fair, and consider matching your competitors’ prices for similar items. Offer sales prices and other promotions to encourage customers to visit, and consider incentives for valued customers as well. An online presence can boost your business too. Create a Facebook page and Twitter and Instagram accounts to keep your customers apprised of new merchandise and special offers. You can offer special discounts and advance information about discount sales to your fans and followers as well. As many people continue to struggle financially, opening a business offering discounted prices on clothing, furniture, and household goods makes perfect sense. If you’re a business savvy individual with an eye for unique and interesting items, a thrift store business just might be the perfect choice for you.

Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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