How to Open Your Own Thrift Store or Consignment Shop

by Nicole in Comment — Updated January 29, 2024

How to Open Your Own Thrift Store or Consignment Shop 5There’s a story in each vintage item. This is what makes poring through shelves of vintage products feel magical. It doesn’t matter if you’re a vintage lover, antiquarian, or just a casual thrifter; you’ll definitely find a world of stories within a thrift store or consignment shop. It’s an experience that sticks with you, and one that you’ll want to keep coming back to.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could let others experience this too? Opening your own thrift store or consignment shop allows you to curate items and tell stories through pre-loved goods. And if you need to declutter your vintage collection, opening a shop can help you with that, too.

While you can sell your pieces online, nothing beats the old-school feeling of shopping at an actual thrift store or consignment shop. Both stores have one main thing in common: They carry secondhand goods.

However, they differ in the way they accept items for selling. Thrift stores usually get their items from donations, so they accept a wider variety of items. On the other hand, consignment shops get their items from individual sellers. This means that consignment shops are usually stricter with the quality of items that they accept. Consignment shops also split the sales profit with the seller.

Whichever type of store you decide to open, remember that you’ll still be operating a reputable and profitable retail business—it just happens to sell vintage or used merchandise!

Determine your startup costs

Among the primary costs that come with opening a consignment shop or thrift store are: rent for the store space, utilities, a security system, and legal and accounting fees. You can launch a consignment shop with anywhere between $3,000 to $10,000, so it’s considerably lower compared to other businesses. At $20,000 to $30,000, startup costs for thrift stores are slightly higher—but this includes the everyday operational costs you’ll need to shell out until the store picks up.

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Figure out where to source your products from

Since both shops acquire items differently, it’s important to figure out how to best source your merchandise. Going to yard, tag, and garage sales is a good starting point for either. You can also send out an announcement that you’re accepting merch and goods to resell. For consignment shops, specifically, you can personally reach out and contact fellow vintage lovers who may have items that they need to let go of. For thrift stores, you can partner with groups that organize donation drives.

Create a strong online presence

The resale industry has become more popular in recent years, right as we’re entering the digital age. Studies suggest that by 2021, there will be about 3.02 billion people social media users—that’s a big market opportunity. Whether you’re opening a thrift store, a consignment shop, or any other business for that matter, a strong online presence can boost brand awareness.

Market to the right people

Buying vintage and secondhand items isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay! Thrifting and used goods shopping is for those who can appreciate a good bargain and a unique product. Being into vintage, you already know what appeals to this market. Create marketing materials that they can relate to, from your brand name to your logo and your online posts, your message should be consistent and accessible for secondhand shoppers.

Looking for every possible opportunity to get your store noticed and spread the word is vital when you are marketing to a niche audience. An excellent way to get your brand name and logo seen is by choosing promotional items that appeal directly to thrifty shoppers, such as reusable shopping bags. Having reusable bags printed with your logo provides you with a promotional item that also serves a practical purpose. Figures suggest that custom-printed, reusable bags average 5,938 impressions, so getting some of these printed for use at your store could be a wise marketing decision.

Thrift stores and consignment shops need someone who loves vintage items and understands the stories behind each of them; otherwise, they’ll just be like any other retail store. Now you know how to open one, go ahead and start!


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