How to Run a Successful Thrift Store

How to Run a Successful Thrift Store

As consumer demand for sustainability and minimalism continues to grow, secondhand products are back in vogue. The market is expected to grow 11X faster than the retail clothing sector and may reach $77 billion by 2025. 

Indeed, with 16-18% of Americans shopping at thrift stores in a year, the secondhand market is gaining a lot of traction which doesn’t show signs of slowing down any time soon. Thrift stores offer a great way for sellers to earn a living while buyers can benefit from some great deals. They also help to reduce wastage and promote sustainability by encouraging recommerce. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at some tried and tested strategies for running a successful thrift store.

1. Offer fair prices

Pricing is one of the main factors that drive purchase decisions. As a thrift store owner, you must ensure that your product prices are not too high but not too low either. 

High prices will turn away customers who particularly frequent thrift stores hoping to land some great bargains. On the other hand, pricing your products too low can tarnish your brand image and make your products come across as substandard or defective. 

Having a price book for your staff and volunteers is a great way to maintain price consistency.  You can also use color-based discounts to make sure you aren’t overpricing any products. Just use different colored price tags for your products and then announce discounts on items with price tags of a particular color. Say, 60% off on all green tag items. 

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At times, if you’re overwhelmed with excess inventory, you can offer a limited period sale to get your stock back to normal levels. Your pricing decision should also depend on the volume of products you’re selling. If a particular type of item typically sells a lot, you can still afford to keep the prices low and make up for the low margins from the volumes.

2. Keep things organized

The last thing customers want in a thrift store is to sift through piles of used products to find something of utility. In fact, the sight of an unkempt and unorganized store can turn off most customers who may never return to that store. As such, the exterior appearance is a massive determinant of success in the retail industry — more so in secondhand retail.

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Since you’re likely to have a diverse range and a random assortment of products in your thrift store, make sure they’re well organized. Group together similar types of products for easier navigation, better shopping experiences, and a greater likelihood of purchases. 

Demarcate sections for categories like clothing, furniture, appliances, books, etc. Group apparel and footwear by size, color, gender, and styles. You could also arrange records, movies, and books in alphabetical order so that customers can scan them easily and quickly find what they need.

3. Focus on the presentation

The retail shopping experience is all about staging and presentation. Instead of just displaying individual products, tell a story that they can picture themselves in. For example, style an entire outfit on a mannequin that demonstrates how certain items of clothing, shoes, and accessories can go together. 

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Captivate your customers using attractive, on-brand, and diverse product exhibitions. Also, presenting your products in the best light (quite literally) can do wonders for your conversions. Make sure the lighting isn’t too dark or too bright and use as much natural light as possible. Light and neutral backgrounds can also help your products stand out better.

4. Draw attention to unique items

A lot of shoppers come to thrift stores looking for vintage items. Make the most of this opportunity by having a separate section dedicated to vintage and antique items. Label them clearly and make sure they’re easily accessible to customers.

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Also, be strategic about where you want to display them. As a thrift store owner, you must always put your best foot forward, so make sure to display your best products at the entrance or the windows. Find a good location in your store and display your most amazing finds in it. Organize them meticulously in locked displays or high-quality stands to entice and intrigue your customers.

5. Collect high-quality products

Even as a thrift store owner, you must focus on sourcing and selling quality products. At the end of the day, customers will be spending their hard-earned money, so it’s essential that your products are in good, workable condition and are not damaged or defective. Products with rough edges, imperfections, mismatched patterns, misalignment, and irregularities can affect the reputation of your business.

6. Inspect and audit your store regularly

To make sure that your thrift store management practices and operating procedures are being followed properly, make sure to inspect and audit your stores on a regular basis. Are your store displays eye-catching and on-brand? Are the prices consistent? Is your store clean, organized, and easy to navigate? Are the displayed products in perfect condition? 

The best way to get all such questions answered is to conduct regular on-site inspections. To make your life easier, use an audit and inspection software like Bindy that digitizes your action items, checklists, etc. to ensure that corrective actions are can be taken quickly and effectively. 

Final words

Thrift stores provide a great way to earn a living while channeling pre-loved products back into the market. With a bit of planning and innovation, you can significantly enhance your thrift store’s conversions, reach, and profitability. 

Leverage the tips mentioned above to stand out from the competition and build an impressive brand image of your store. Contact us today to learn how you can ensure greater compliance with brand standards through timely audits and inspections of your thrift store with Bindy.

About the author:

Francesca Nicasio is retail expert, B2B content strategist, and LinkedIn TopVoice. She writes about trends, tips, and best practices that enable retailers to increase sales and serve customers better. She’s also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores.

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