How to Organize Your Thrift Store

by Vanessa Cross; Updated September 26, 2017
Thrift store shoppers seek ease and convenience when navigating through a shop's merchandise.

The retail store is a tool for selling merchandise. The thrift store shopper's experience is shaped by the quality of the inventory and presentation. Store planning and design should focus on maximizing use of the retail space while also presenting merchandise in an orderly and appealing manner using store fixtures. This can be achieved using modular garment racks; tiered, shelved or single-level tables; and gondolas, as well as store signs that provides directions to merchandising departments.

Items you will need

  • Garment racks
  • Gondolas
  • Shelves
  • Glass displays
Step 1

Organize garments on racks. Clothing items are generally hung on sturdy clothing racks as opposed to being folded, shelved or placed in bins in thrift stores. Categorize women, men, girls and boys garments separately. Create sections for shirts/blouses, pants, skirts, dresses, suits, coats, jackets, blazers and sweaters. Station fitting rooms nearby garment racks. It should have a full length wall mirror and wall fixtures for hanging garments.

Step 2

Hang purses, bags and belts on wall racks. Use wall fixtures or standing racks to arrange purses and other bags by color. Clutch purses and small wallets can be creatively arranged in a wide, shallow straw basket and placed atop a nearby rack with a top surface or other display rack.

Step 3
Shoes in thrift stores can also be organized on display racks by color and size.

Organize shoe racks. Use display racks that take maximum advantage of space. A retail shoe rack height can be up to five to six feet high with up to four or five shelves. Categorize women, men, girls and boys shoes separately.

Step 4

Categorize books on bookshelves or gondolas. Separate the non-fiction from the fiction and hardcovers from paperback books. Reference materials such as encyclopedias should be displayed together. Consider developing a separate category for popular authors.

Step 5

Use gondolas and wall shelves to display decorative and other small items. This includes household goods, small electronics, household goods and general kitchen items. Place similar types of goods together for customer convenience.

Step 6

Designate floor space for furniture displays. Light furnishing such as chairs and small tables can be grouped together to give shoppers decorating ideas.

Step 7

Display art items on walls. Paintings, framed posters and other wall decorations can be grouped as wall displays that can be seen by customer from various browsing locations within the thrift store.

Step 8
Glass display cases are excellent for displaying jewelry items.

Arrange small delicate and valuable items in a glass display case. This is often placed near the point of sale unit where cashiering facilities and hand cart and baskets are stationed near the store entrance/exit. It is a great way to capture the attention of customers waiting in checkout lines.

Step 9

Set-up the back office space. This is the area where merchandise is received, marked and prepared for store display. It is also an area for performing administrative tasks and management functions.

About the Author

Vanessa Cross has practiced law in Tennessee and lectured as an adjunct professor on law and business topics. She has also contributed as a business writer to news publications such as the "Chicago Tribune" and published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Cross holds a B.A. in journalism, a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. in international business law.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images