How To Start A Thrift Store
If you like bargains and want to give others an opportunity to find them, knowing how to start a thrift store can be your ticket to success. Your store can be a fun and functional place for inexpensive and vintage items.
- Ask why. The first important step in starting a thrift store is to ask, Why? Why do you want to start a thrift store? Why are you a suitable person to run a thrift store? Why is a thrift store a good idea where you live? Write down answers to these questions to help you consider the deal-breaking question of what purpose the store will serve.
- Decide on type. The next main decision is if you want to have a profit or non-profit store. Many thrift stores are run by charities and non-profit organizations and rely on donations to stock them. You could run a non-profit, pay yourself (and any other employees) a salary, and donate the profits to a charity or organization of your choice. Or, you could have a private, for-profit business, which would rely mainly on purchasing inventory, along with possible consignments and donations.
- Gather inventory. The next step in starting a thrift store is to gather inventory. Decide if you want to specialize in certain kinds of merchandise. Perhaps, you will have clothes only for adults or a certain kind of clothes--vintage dresses or suits. Maybe you will have areas for books or kitchenware. Buy a combination of what appeals to you and what people need.
- Plan a budget. Another important step in starting a thrift store is figuring out what will make the business viable. What kind of income will you need? Besides income (yours and any employees), estimate costs for rent, utilities, insurance, supplies, and advertising. Contact the Chamber of Commerce for information on business regulations and requirements. Talk to business owners in the area where you might locate about rent and utility costs.
- Get legal. Like any business, a thrift store must follow legal restrictions and laws. Contact your insurance company to get an estimate on the insurance you need. The state tax department will tell you how to record and pay taxes. The IRS will expect you to have an Employer Identification Number for any employees and the proper paperwork for worker’s compensation and federal taxes.
- Find your place. This step seems late in the list, but getting steps 1-5 out of the way gives you time to find the Location. Location. Location. It is the most important thing about starting a thrift store. Find the perfect spot and success will be almost guaranteed. Find a highly-trafficked area with plenty of parking. For accepting donations, you need an area, preferably in a drive-through alley, where donations can be dropped off without looking unsightly.
- Trick out the store. One of the most enjoyable parts of starting a thrift store is giving the shop your personal touch with displays and merchandise placement. Visit other thrift stores or stores that you admire and see how their merchandise is displayed. Talk to the owners for their experience in how they started a thrift store and why they display items as they do. Go to auctions and closing-business sales to pick up inexpensive fixtures, display boxes, and other furniture.
- Advertise. Make professional, clear signage for your store and invest in both print and online advertising. Brochures, flyers, business cards, coupons, and postcards are all great ways to get out information. Prominently display the name of the store and include a subtitle if it is not clear what the store is from your title. Display an eye-catching sign in front of your store and an appealing design on the front of your building or on the windows.
- Open up. Thrift stores attract a wide variety of people, and you are sure to never be bored with the clientele. Thrift stores are more popular than they have ever been. Yours can be a success story.
Posted on: Aug. 16, 2010