If you are a frequent customer of thrift stores, you may be wondering how to open a thrift store of your own. If so, consider the following tips in order to make your dream a reality and your venture a success.
- Specialize for success. Carrying everything is a possibility, but choosing to specialize can up your chances at success. Vintage clothing and accessories, jewelry, hats, shoes, scarves and some knickknacks is a common choice for a thrift store. Toys and games, or furniture and household items are others. Or decide to carry a little of everything, but keep it well sorted by carving out sections in your thrift store.
- Creating a business plan early will help focus your efforts. The Small Business Administration provides many resources for getting a business off the ground including instructions on building a business plan and directions on the process of becoming a legal entity. SCORE, Service Corps of Retired Executives, offers the public free business plan templates and advice for entrepreneurs. Frequently consulting your business plan can provide much needed insight on the direction you need to go next.
- Location, location, location is really the key to running a successful thrift store. Look for a storefront in an area that sees high traffic, particularly foot traffic. Passerby’s, people just happening to be in the area, are an important part of a thrift stores customer base. Look for a location near a take out restaurant, hair dresser, kids dance school or other places that people might have some time to kill.
- Search Craigslist for basic supplies for your thrift store venture such as display racks or check out store closing sales around your area. Other supplies needed to run the business, aside from merchandise, are price tags, markers, ledgers and the like can be purchased from any office supply store.
- Sign up for credit card processing to entice people to purchase more in your store. Although cash and checks are easier to manage, few people carry either these days opting instead to use their debit card for purchases. Since the customer is always right, set yourself up. Because of the cost of this service, it is perfectly acceptable to set a minimum limit, of $10 or $20 for people who would like to take advantage of their plastic.
- Create a flow of merchandise. Continually adding new items to your thrift store is extremely important. Give people have a reason to check back often. This can be accomplished by offering store credit for items brought in from customers. Run an ad on Craigslist announcing that the store accepts old clothing and merchandise. Give people a convenient place to drop their discards, welcome their items, but clearly post guidelines as to what you will and will not accept. Avoid being a trash collector.
- Get the word out. Be sure your store has excellent curb appeal. Hire a local artist to paint the windows with the name of your thrift store, possibly in exchange for some space in the store to show their work. Print up fliers, purchase radio slots, run Facebook promotions and host a grand opening. Clean the windows, display your best items up front and smile! Great customer service can determine whether or not your thrift store survives.