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Our 2024 Guide to Open a Thrift Store
Blog...Our 2024 Guide to Open a Thrift Store

Our 2024 Guide to Open a Thrift Store

Ecology News
person in white top holding clothes
Looking to open a thrift store in 2024? Here’s our guide to making sure your future thrift shop is a success!
Ecology News
person in white top holding clothes

More often than not these days, whenever my friends show me the new jacket or pair of pants they bought – when I ask where they bought it from, they say it came from a thrift store. In fact, thrift shopping has dramatically grown in popularity – with cities like Paris making it easily accessible, affordable, and fun for people to go to the thrift store.

What exactly is a thrift store, and why has thrift shopping become so popular in recent years?

If you’re interested in opening your own thrift store in the future, keep reading to learn all about this new and sustainable way to shop for clothes – and what might be necessary in your journey to open a thrift store.

What is a thrift store?

A thrift store is a place where people bring old clothes to donate and be re-sold to new customers. This is why thrift shopping is also commonly referred to as secondhand clothing or secondhand shopping – as the clothes are not brand new and have already been worn or used. 

Thrift stores can often have more than just clothing garments: such as old jewelry, shoes, or even decorative antiques to put for display around your house. In fact, the term “thriting” means to go shopping for anything that has already been used: such as old clothing, furniture, or retro items such as old cameras or electronics that might even still work. In this sense, thrift shopping can also be referred to as going to the flea market or a garage sale. 

However, the difference between thrift shopping and a flea market is that a flea market usually encompasses several blocks with several different types of vendors, whereas a thrift store is usually a smaller sized outlet that specializes in selling second hand items. A garage sale is when an individual sets up their old toys, books, clothes, and furniture in their garage, yard, or driveway for sell for those in the neighborhood to shop through – hence the name a “garage sale”, as many Americans keep their old “junk” hidden away somewhere in the garage.  

Thrift stores are therefore often much less expensive than purchasing an entirely new garment, as the clothes can often already be worn out with holes, patches, and disrupted seams. However, many find this appealing about shopping at a thrift store – as the clothing can have a story behind it, or have more “character” for its unique rips or tears. Clothing from a thrift store can also often be deemed as, “one of a kind” – as the article of clothing they found isn’t mass-produced like something that might be bought at large department stores like Target, Macy’s, or Nordstroms.

Thrift stores have become increasingly popular amongst younger generations, as styles are continuously changing and it’s too difficult for young people’s wallets to keep up with the revolving trends. However, there are many more reasons why thrift stores have grown in popularity. 

Thrift shopping used to be predominantly known as a type of charity – where people would shop for second hand clothing with the financial earnings from the thrift store to be donated to a worthy cause. However, most thrift shops do not adhere to this old motto any more – and many thrift shops do in fact aim to make a profit, often buying clothes from the individuals that offer their old clothes for less money then they will ultimately sell it to new customers.

Why has thrift shopping grown in popularity over the last few years?

Why have thrift stores become so popular? 

Many people prefer to shop at a thrift store these days, but their reasons for doing so vary. For instance, many prefer to shop at thrift stores as it’s seen as more an activity than a calculated shopping experience. In other words, most people don’t go to the thrift store with a concrete list of what they need or what they’re going to buy – but see it as more of a mysterious activity to see what they might find at the thrift store.


Think of the difference between thrift shopping and going to a department store as the difference between going on a trip for vacation or for business. On a business trip, everything you are going to do is mapped out and calculated with a very specific purpose and end-goal in mind. On the other hand, going on vacation is more spontaneous and you often don’t have a set plan – but rather are enticed by where the free days will take you. Thrift shopping is just like going on vacation, it’s more for pleasure than it is for finding a specific item to buy. 

There are also several benefits to those who opt for thrift shopping instead – what are they?

What are the benefits of shopping at a thrift store? 

Thrift shopping presents a wide array of benefits for both the shopper and the planet. For instance, those who thrift are bound to save money. Thrift shopping can often be a cheap and affordable way to have an abundance of clothes. For instance, in Paris, there are several “kilo” shops – where you can fill up a bag of whatever you can find in the thrift store and when you get to the cashier, your bag is weighed and you pay a fixed price per kilo. This means you can get a lot of clothes at the fraction of a place that you usually would pay for a single, brand-new item at a department store. 

Thrift shopping is also better for the environment, as it ensures that things like clothing, shoes, jewelry, and furniture are used until they absolutely fall apart – mitigating the excessive greenhouse emissions that could be created if these items were to be disposed of immediately.

Thrift stores offer the opportunity for those who seek individual expression to get creative and have “one of a kind” items – as things that are found at the thrift store aren’t likely to exist in numerous stores elsewhere. This can help people to feel more original, confident, and expressive and promote individuality in the midst of a world that is constantly adhering to social media trends. 

Ultimately, thrift shopping serves as a way to find original pieces of clothing, cheaper prices, and reduce your carbon footprint all at the same time – and serves as the best alternative to fast fashion. 

Going to the thrift store seems like a pretty good deal, but are there any downsides to thrifting?

What are the downsides of shopping at a thrift store? 

Thrifting might be the type of shopping for you if you appreciate a more calculated shopping experience. Some people enjoy a “fresh out of the box” new pair of shoes or the feeling of ripping tags off of a new jacket. A thrift store can’t necessarily provide that experience to a shopper. 

One of the biggest downsides to thrift shopping is that you don’t know where the item of clothing has been. While some may find this mysterious, it may be a good idea to always wash whatever you buy from the thrift store. Many thrift stores require their donors to wash their clothes before donating, but there is no way to ensure that this has already been done. 

Another potential problem with a thrift store is that it could cause thrift store gentrification – which is when wealthy people go shopping at thrift stores for the experience, that store owners raise the prices in turn. While this is good news to encourage those to buy sustainably, it could deter those from buying second hand clothing who really need it. 

Now that you know all about the pros and cons of thrift shopping – how do you open your own thrift store?

How can you open your own thrift store?

More and more people are becoming interested in opening their own thrift stores as the thrifting industry has been on the rise, especially with Gen Z. Younger generations have been more drawn to online thrift stores such as Poshmark, Depop, Vinted, and ThreadUp. 

However, before you can start to reap the lucrative benefits of starting your own thrift store, you have to follow these steps carefully.

Create Your Business Plan

It’s going to be difficult to get your new thrift store up and running without some investor interest, and that’s why drafting a well thought-out business plan is imperative. This plan should be detailed with an executive summary detailing your mission statement, a summary of your company and initial start-up costs, the products to be sold in your thrift store, which market you’re trying to target, your marketing strategies, your staffing plan including how much compensation they will be entitled to, and a financial plan. 

This may seem like a lot of writing to do, but it is the best thing you can do to start a successful business in thrifting.

Complete All Necessary Paperwork

The paperwork won’t end with the creation of your business plan. You have to register for an EIN for your thrift store, or an Employee Identification Number to ensure your taxes will be properly filed with the IRS. On that note, it is also essential to register your business in your state of residence, and to choose a business name to have on file for all of this paperwork and various tax purposes. 

In order to open a thrift store, you will also need various licenses and permits to sell thrifted/used items: such as a general business license, sales permits, zoning permits, and a wholesale license. It is also necessary to buy business insurance and open a bank account that will be used solely for your thrift store.

Find the Financing 

Unless you’re an inherent millionaire, it’s going to be difficult to get started with your thrift store business – even if you get a lot of takers to donate clothes. This is because it generally costs anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 to get a thrift store up and running. Therefore, it’s necessary to seek investors who are willing to financially contribute to your new thrift store. The good news is that investors are becoming more and more interested in investing in businesses that promote sustainability, and as a thrift store – is your business likely to qualify. However, it’s essential to make sure that all of your other paperwork is in order first. 

Want to take it one step further? Read here on how to find green financing for your business

Thrift stores are all of the rage right now, and will continue to grow in popularity as climate change worsens and consumers become more hyper aware of the benefits of sustainability. It may be a daunting initial investment, in terms of time, money, and paperwork – but if you follow these steps carefully, you’re bound to open a thrift store awaiting exceptional success.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about how to open a thrift store in 2024 has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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