Guest Author - Deborah Crawford
One of the least expensive ways to open a retail business is to open a thrift or secondhand store. There are many examples of these—used book stores, used clothing stores, and even used furniture stores are plentiful. You can specialize in one product, or you can have a “general” store with a variety of items.
Many owners of such stores find their inventory through individual sales, garage sales and even other thrift stores. If you have a good eye and know what something is worth, you can easily find bargains that you can sell in your store at a profit. Friends and family might be willing to donate items to help you get started, too. You can also sell items on “consignment”, where you sell things for their owners and keep a percentage of the selling price.
The profit potential in thrift stores depends on many factors, and can be hard to predict. Some thrift stores might make as low as under $20,000 per year in profit, and some might make well over $100,000 in profit. How much you can make depends on many factors, including your product, how much you can mark up your prices, and the location of your store.
What you will need:
Business basics: You will need a business license (check with your city or county government), tax ID number (visit www.irs.gov), a business plan, and a business checking account. You’ll also need accounting and inventory systems for this business.
A Store: Check with a realtor and scout out available space. Prices will vary, but don’t let price be your only consideration. A cheap space that gets no traffic will cost you more in the long run.
Store Supplies: You will need a cash register, pricing tools and supplies, display shelves or racks, hangers if you sell clothing, and basic business supplies like staplers, paper clips, and such. You also need cleaning supplies.
Signage: Exterior signage so that people can find you, as well as interior signage highlighting different areas of the store, specials and more.
What you will do:
Generally, you will purchase and then resell your product to the public. You will need good customer service skills, and the physical ability to work on your feet during the hours you are open helping customers, organizing and cleaning your store, and ringing up orders. If you have never worked in retail, a part-time job will help you learn just what to expect.
Success Tips: Here are some things to keep in mind while planning your successful thrift store:
--You need to provide product that your customers want and are willing to pay profitable prices for. Make sure your product is something that will work in your area.
--You will need sustainable sources for product. If you find your beginning inventory at garage sales, will you be able to continue searching for product if you spend most of your time at your store? Who will run your store when you are “purchasing”?
--Your business could be profitable from day one, but plan on six months to a year of building time. Make sure you can pay your bills during this start up phase.
--A good marketing plan will help build and sustain your business. You need a plan that focuses on bringing customers in and keeping them happy so they return. Consider networking, advertising, and public relations actions to help get the word out about your business. And, continue marketing on a consistent basis.
--Thrift stores can fill a big need in many areas. Everyone loves a great bargain, recycling is helpful and environmentally friendly, and buying “gently used” items can help many people who are on tight budgets. Additionally, “vintage” is hot in fashion, antiques are coveted for furnishings and decorative objects, and collectors haunt thrift stores to find items to add to their collections.
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is doubly true if you are a thrift store owner! Click Here to Discover How to Become a Secondhand Store Owner