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A second-hand or thrift store is a place where used items are sold and opening a second-hand store is a great idea for an income source. It will take time and effort and careful decisions as many items will be needed to stock your shop and you will have to advertise effectively to entice customers to buy from you. If you choose to deal in clothing, then you can also have a section in your shop for swops – customers can bring in items that they no longer wear and swop or exchange them for something else in your shop of a similar value.

Firstly, decide on whether you are going to sell clothing or furniture, current brands or vintage items, or any other possible goods such as books, toys, sporting gear or houseware to name a few. Your product mix is important so make this choice before you start finding goods to sell. You then need to find a physical space from where you can sell your products, so a place where people pass by often is ideal. The size of this space will depend on your product choice – clothing requires rails and shelves whereas furniture and art objects require a lot of floor and shelving spaces.

Your inventory can be sourced from local auctions, other second-hand shops, flea markets, and eBay. If people in your community and friends are down-sizing their homes, they may have items that they need to sell or are willing to donate to you. Aim to buy your stock at the lowest price possible but do not be tempted to buy cheap if the product is unlikely to be sold in your store. Once you have purchased enough items, start making an inventory and keep this up to date daily with incoming and outgoing goods.

Ensure that you obtain the relevant licences and permits for your store. The costs of starting a second-hand store may be quite high initially, depending on the location you choose and what kind of products you want to sell. Determine how to price your goods – those that you buy for a low price can be marked up by 50% but for large items such as furniture then 50% is too high unless you have been lucky to pay a low price. Incoming purchases must not outpace your sales, hence the necessity to keep an updated daily inventory list. If you are selling clothes, then you will need to have a closed fitting room space with a mirror.

Once you have your space and your products, then display the items in an organised manner to entice your customers to spend their money! Advertise your new shop by placing flyers in your local community and set up a website. If you are selling clothing, then perhaps you can have a fashion show to get potential customers into your shop. As you learn about your customer base, so will you learn what kind of items they would like to buy and you can then purchase goods accordingly. So be open-minded and ready to learn from your second-hand store experiences.



  • Start-up Capital: +$500
  • Space required: A large shop
  • Equipment: As above
  • Specific skills: Good communication skills and accuracy in keeping lists of sales


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