The thrift shop business is a multibillion-dollar industry, according to National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops. This number makes sense because "resale shopping attracts individuals from all economic levels," the association says, and it's a popular pastime--over 16 percent of Americans shop at a thrift shop every year. Get a piece of that pie by using strategies that will make your thrift store profitable. You can do this by emulating strategies that make other retail shops successful, while continuing to cater to your customers. With a little bit of research and plenty of hard work, you can have a thrift shop that is not only competitive, but fun to shop at.

Step 1.

Increase the amount of donations your thrift shop receives. Do this by offering to pick up donations, being available to process donations and doing outreach activities in the community to let people know that donations are needed.

Step 2.

Design your thrift shop so that it is spacious, not crowded. It should also be clean and have flattering lighting. Successful retail stores have appealing window displays and plenty of room between aisles. Your thrift store should have the same. If you have more merchandise than space, store some of the donations until space opens up. People will be more inclined to shop at your store if they do not get a claustrophobic feeling.

Step 3.

Train salespeople to be helpful and to sell the merchandise. They can help customers find exact clothing items they are looking for, or offer to hold items for the customer at the checkout counter until they are ready to pay. Courtesy and sales skills--at a thrift store or any store--can produce positive results.

Step 4.

Arrange clothing by size as well as gender and age. Divide clothing into separate sections for shirts, pants, jeans, etc. Create attractive clothing displays at the end of aisles. People should be able to easily find what they are looking for.

Step 5.

Find out which clothing labels command a high price. Charge more for those items, and consider creating a separate “designer” area. Do the same with vintage items and antiques.

Step 6.

Get customers in the door by advertising sales on specific merchandise on certain days. Once they are there, they are likely to buy other items besides the discounted ones.


List designer, vintage and antique items on or other sites if your customers will not support paying the price they are worth.