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What If I Opened up a Thrift Store?

by J. Money on Monday, July 9, 2012

antiques shop

The last few weeks I’ve been thinking a LOT about opening up my own antique/thrift store some time in the near future. I don’t know what’s been getting into me lately (I think this baby not coming out is driving me crazy!), but at this moment I’m totally and utterly OBSESSED with figuring out how it all works. Even though I’m 99.9% sure I wouldn’t be good at it ;)

It all started the other week when we went to the beach. We drove by this awesomely old house for sale in this quaint little town, and on the property right next to it was a barn converted into some sort of antique shop.  I thought to myself, “How bad ass would THAT be? Own an old home in the countryside and then set up shop 10 feet away with your own store? That would be tight!” I even came up with a mental list of all the reasons why I should do it.

Pros to Owning Your Own Store

  • It would be FUN!
  • I’d get first dibs on all the best deals out there
  • I’d never know what kind of treasures I’d find in any day
  • I could sell all my own stuff SUPER easier and faster ;)
  • It’s a fun adventure and a dream to cross off the list.
  • I’d get proficient in a totally new business.
  • I’d learn the ins and outs of selling stuff online, like on eBay (which I’d do concurrently from selling in the physical store)
  • I’d meet an entirely NEW set of people! (Buyers, auctioneers, collectors – an entire community)
  • I’d make a lot of money! Probably not as much as I’d want, but enough to make it worth it.

I didn’t think about it too much following the trip, but every weekend that passed got me thinking again.  I’d been going to yard sales and flea markets like CRAZY lately, and every time I stepped into one of them the idea of owning my own shop would pop right back into memory again.  Especially this last Friday when I came across some killer deals at our local thrift store. I had no need to pick any of them up for myself (one being a 1948 old Singer sewing machine w/ table in perfect condition!), but I kept thinking that if I had my own shop I could totally scoop ‘em up and then double – or even triple – the price to flip a profit! And it would be exhilarating finding all those bargains too!

The next morning I set out again to hit up my routine flea markets and yard sales I’d pass along the way, except this time I pretended I already had my own place :) I learned that if I did that sometimes, I can get a better sense of what it would be like “in the real world” if I were to ever really pursue the dream.  Kinda like how I did before blogging full-time: I’d wake up some work days and pretend all I had to do that day was blog and keep up with the business to gauge how I’d truly feel about it. If I got excited right off the bat, I’d know it was a dream worth fighting for!  And if I instinctively cringed, well, it probably meant that it wasn’t the best of ideas.

Tips on Where to Get Your Merchandise

So I step into the community flea market where about 30 different people have their own square areas to hawk their goods, and the entire time I’m walking around thinking “What should I pick up for my store today?.”  Right off the bat I was excited!! It sounds silly, but again – it works.  So much so that THIS time I actually say my dreams out loud! haha…

I come across this guy who was selling a few old baseball cards and antiques outside of his van, and we randomly start up a conversation.
I had told him it had been years since I’ve collected these kinds of things myself, but I want to “get back into the game” now, and I was kinda sorta thinking of opening up my own shop in the future. Coincidentally enough, he was too! In fact, he’d been collecting stuff like crazy over the past year and a half, and was moving onto the next item on his list of finding that perfect real estate.  All at the ripe age of 52 :)

(If you’ve ever seen the movie Larry Crowne, this guy was exactly like the character Cedric the Entertainer played – feisty, boisterous, and had no problem selling you anything and everything he could possibly get his hands on!  He was literally selling his kid’s artwork they had made 20 years when they were 5 :) Only this guy didn’t set up shop on his front lawn all year long like in the movies.)

Anyways, we got along swimmingly the second we started chatting
and I quickly picked his brain on how he got to this point (and what he actually *does* on a daily basis) to see if it’s something I’d indeed enjoy doing. Right there in the sweltering 97 degree heat at 8:30 in the morning. This is what he shared with me:

  1. He hits up all local auctions
  2. He hits up as many yard sales, flea markets and thrift stores as he can (buying and selling)
  3. He participates in all storage auctions around town (just like in Storage Wars!!)
  4. He partners up with other dealers looking for certain items and then goes searching for them
  5. He researches all values online, and then compares them to things up for sale on eBay to get a better idea on how much they’re worth on the free market
  6. And he tells everyone to come to him FIRST when they’re looking to sell something – even if they think it’s crap – because there’s a good chance he could find a buyer for it.

So pretty much he shops all week to get enough inventory going, all the while grabbing the best deals before any others can get to them.  A lot of work requiring a lot of time. Regardless, this guy knew what he was doing and unknowingly became my official role model ;)  We exchanged names and info at the end of our convo, and I promised him I’d return the favor sometime down the road. I asked him for one last tip before we exchanged info and went our separate ways, and he quickly shot back: not starting sooner.  The answer you usually get when you know you’re on the right track with something :)
antiques for sale

What You Need To Get Started

Now, I’m in a totally different place than this guy who’s officially retired and running his business halfway to keep busy and halfway to strike it rich, BUT, it also doesn’t seem that far fetched either. As long as you were committed to it and willing to put in the hours it would take to make it fully successful. Well, that and having some good business sense :)  But I’d like to think I’m somewhat above average in that department with my track record?

Either way, as soon as I got home from the flea market I jumped on the computer and started doing more research.  In particular, I Googled “how to start a thrift store” to see what that would result.  And BOY did it stop me in my tracks! Here were a few of the things that I hadn’t really considered yet, even though they totally make sense:

  1. You need a business plan
  2. You need a license for the business, and probably insurance too
  3. You need to find a location visible to both foot AND car traffic, which is also affordable!
  4. You need adequate parking, as well as signage
  5. You have to figure out how to market your store properly
  6. And how to keep track of all that inventory
  7. Along with systems for bookkeeping and accepting money
  8. And of course, shelving and other display case stuff to showcase all your goodies

Reading all that pretty much stopped me in my tracks. I don’t know anything about owning retail shops, what the hell am I thinking?? Just because I can run things online doesn’t mean it would necessarily transfer over into the “real world.” And what about my hatred for owning property?  Or wanting to be more minimalist? Haha… It’s amazing how things change the moment you start getting more serious and do a little research.

Alternatives to Starting a Shop From Scratch

I called up my mom shortly there after and asked her what SHE thought of this whole idea. After all, it’s because of her that I love this kinda stuff!  We grew up yard saling and going to local auctions every single weekend. Plus, she actually has experience selling stuff in stores too – doing it on and off while we were in school to make some extra money.

She loved the idea as much as I did, but offered a little more insight:

  1. If I was out looking for good deals and buying stuff all the time, who would run the store?
  2. And what happens if I can’t pay rent or the mortgage?
  3. Have I ever thought of partnering up with anyone?
  4. What about buying a store already in business?
  5. What if I started out flipping things on eBay instead first?
  6. Or putting things on consignment at an already established shop?
  7. Or even renting out a booth at the stores that offer that kind of partnership?

All great things to consider for sure, and it pretty much cemented the fact that I should NOT be trying at all to start a store from scratch. Especially since I haven’t dipped my toes outside of doing a little shopping here and there (or again, having ANY experience whatsoever managing a retail store!). My mom firmly agreed, and told me that if I poured my heart into it and really got a better understanding of it all, she’d consider partnering up with me in the future and running it together as a family store :)  That made me happy. Even if she’s assuming I’d never make it to that point, haha…

So all of this to say I started thinking of opening up my own antiques/thrift store, but I still have a long way to go if I ever want to make it a reality. As awesome as it sounds, it’s not something you can easily do overnight. So I’ll continue learning and giving it more thought over the next few years as time passes, and in the meantime I’ll keep doing what I know best: finding good deals for myself and dreaming up the next venture :) I already pretend I own my own shop anyways, so at least I’ve got the fun part down!

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(Photo by newagecrap, and Deidre Woollard)

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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jon B July 9, 2012 at 7:29 am

Great article! I’ve always thought about doing that as well for some of the same reasons…mainly because I’d like the thrill of finding deals on things I could flip in the store or being able to sell what people are just going to toss out. It’s kind of like getting paid to recycle people’s stuff.

I hope you get a shop going someday, that’d be sweet!

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2 Scott July 9, 2012 at 8:18 am

Why do you need a brick & mortar store to deal in antiques? Use the internet as a virtual store – sell on ebay!

I’d think the two hardest things would be a constant stream of fresh product and being able to move it all (as opposed to holding things you love and ending up on an episode of ‘Hoarders’).

Lastly, it’s a question of knowledge-base about a wide variety of collectibles and antiques.

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3 Michelle July 9, 2012 at 8:32 am

I think it’s a very interesting idea! I used to work in a clothing thrift store and as you know, my old boss made a TON of money.

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4 Jennifer G. July 9, 2012 at 8:35 am

If this is something you want to pursue, I think you should do a booth at an antiques store to start out. It’s probably more expensive where you are, but the big antique store in my small hometown rents booths for $50 a month. Every time I go in, I want to start one!

As an aside, I work in another small town now with NOTHING BUT THRIFT STORES. There’s a Walmart, and two local places that sell new clothing opened over the past year or so, but there is not one other place to buy new clothing. And 17 thrift stores at my last count (county population is about 22,000).

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5 B. Rich July 9, 2012 at 8:40 am

Very interesting idea. As I was reading I keep thinking, “he should try this on ebay first” and low and behold, mom came through with wisdom pearl #5! LOL. I gotta tell you, I know a few people who have managed to turn ebay into their full time gig. It started off with them selling old things of their own, to them finding deals on items and selling those on ebay. I recently wrote an post on 5 businesses you can start for $50 or less and starting an ebay store was one of them. I say go for it!

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6 Marc @ FatAndBroke July 9, 2012 at 8:55 am

Great article!

I come up with crazy ideas to make money and be my own boss constantly. Then I do some research and see what is involved in bringing it to fruition and that is usually where it stops. I do have a couple ideas that I plan on following up on once I am debt free and have enough capital to pull it off.

I actually have thought about a thrift/re-sale store after seeing Storage Wars. The problem with that for me is that there are so many within a 15-20 mile radius that I would have to come up with a unique concept or do something different to stand out and I am not sure what that would be.

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7 Lance@MoneyLife&More July 9, 2012 at 8:57 am

Definitely don’t rush into any type of business. Do your research and know all of the variables before you start. You could easily start flipping hints on eBay or Craigslist though if you fins great deals. I had a friend whose parents did this and it turned into a used laptop selling eBay store.

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8 Bridget July 9, 2012 at 9:17 am

I don’t see the appeal AT ALL but my father owns a thrift-like store in Utah and it’s been very successful for him. The best part is he’s hired his own staff, so he still works his part-time job and the store is essentially a passive income for him. He just drops in a few times a month to check on things, but essentially all the managing is done by the store manager =\ It’s pretty great because my parents have like $0 saved for retirement, so I’m really happy they created a source of passive income like this.

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9 Joe @ Retire By 40 July 9, 2012 at 10:32 am

Wow, you have thought this through. It’s great that you wrote down the todo list. That way you can keep track of what you need to think about. I don’t think I can deal with all the antique though. I’m not really into collecting stuff so it’s hard for me to see the appeal. :)

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10 J. Money July 9, 2012 at 11:27 am

Thanks for sharing your thoughts so far guys – this really helps :) It took me hours to get it all out of my brain and down on paper here, but now it’s more “real” and I think a great step to moving forward if it’s still something I’m excited about as time goes on. So thanks for commenting!

@Jon B – Glad you liked it! If I ever open it up one day, you’ll be the first to know!
@Scott – What excites me about having a phsyical place is the face to face interaction that goes on there, along with not being so tied to the computer and internet so much like I am now. Eventually I have to figure out a way to be surrounded with more people or I’m gonna end up becoming a recluse! :) (And you’re right about being knowledgable on ALL types of products – something right now I’d fail in.)
@Michelle – I know!! That’s still so crazy thinking about it, but also gives me hope :) I only assumed you could make a few hundred K at the most, but a few millions??? Your boss sure knew how to work it!
@Jennifer G. – Woahhhh that’s awesome!! I want to live there! Haha… I have no idea how much the booths would cost in this area, but $50 sounds like a steal. I need to do a lot more research still :)
@B. Rich – Oh nice! I’d considered it before on and off, but the problem I have is still being connected to the internet so much :( I need to find something more face-to-face so I don’t go stir crazy… great about your friends rockin’ it though!
@Marc @ FatAndBroke – Yeah, that’s def. the tricky part esp. as a newcomer when you’re competing against others who’ve been in the business for 20-30 even 50 years! But everyone starts at the beginning, right? Going back to your “more capital” idea, you could always consider buying out one of them already established and getting a head start? Or maybe partnering up while you learn? That excites me more than most of the other options really, just takes more risk (and capital). Glad you enjoyed the article though! I put a lot of time into it :)
@Lance@MoneyLife&More – For sure – I’m just at the beginning of all this but wanted to “get it all out there” to hear what others think and make it more real to me than in my head ;) We’ll see what happens.
@Bridget – Oh wow, cool!! Maybe you can intro me to him later if I get more serious so I can pick his brain?? That sounds like an AWESOME way to do things :)
@Joe @ Retire By 40 – Haha, yeah – if you don’t like the subject matter it’s def. not a good option :) I don’t like *all* types of antiques myself, but I’d imagine I’d learn a ton doing it and at least know what to look for to buy and sell – while keeping a few of the stuff I actually like for myself ;) Would really be incredible if I could pull it off.

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11 Meg July 9, 2012 at 11:46 am

I agree with both the eBay and antique store booth! I’ve read a TON of blogs where that’s the entire business — sometimes Internet and actual location, others just Internet. Or Craigslist for larger items. :)

I say it’s nothing you can’t dabble in at the very least! Maybe picking a specialty and starting off there. I always wanted to try it with old vintage cameras…. You know, learning the models to watch for, the prices they sell for and trying to buy a few to sell at a profit. Now you’re making me want to do it again!! ;)

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12 A Family of Geeks July 9, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I’d be most concerned about the time required. You don’t want to miss the early years of your kid(s) life because you’re spending all your time running a small business.

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13 Agatha July 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm

This sounds like a lot of work indeed but I’d shop at your thrift store! Would you sell vintage piggy banks?!?

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14 DebtsnTaxes July 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I think it could be fun to open a thrift store up, but I also don’t think it would be easy. Like others have said it takes a lot of time finding stuff. You might go to an auction and not find a single thing to buy.

A buddy of mine started doing those storage auctions and he says the are fun, but he hasn’t won one yet. He has been buying wholesale lots (mostly body jewelry and hair products) on Ebay and other websites and letting his daughter sell them at his salon. Takes a lot of time to sell stuff but the mark up is so much that they can make money. It’s funny because I never know what he is going to buy next, last time I talked to him he bought 2 motorcycles, bid on a home, and bought a lot of 300 T-shirts. All these were done at online auctions or craigslist. I told him he needs to open up a store to sell all the junk he is buying.

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15 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com July 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

This is a very interesting thought process. I definitely think getting into an existing store is best, as long as it’s in a good location to drive more traffic. It serves two purposes for marketing:

1. An existing store has an existing customer base, so you already have folks who are going to show up.
2. You can dress up in a costume and stand by the street to try to draw more customers into your store.

Those two layers of marketing should be good enough. And when you don’t have customers in the shop, you can be selling stuff on eBay and/or working on your other online businesses. Sounds like the perfect gig for you.

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16 Barb July 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

How to start a business: find a need and fill it.

You like scouring yard sales and thrift stores for undervalued items. Cedric obviously likes selling them. Partner up with him to provide him more stuff to sell for a percent of the profit! You can still do it part-time, and he can expand his business faster. As you said, one of the problems of running an antique/thrift shop is manning the shop yet needing to get new things to stock the store. It would be a way to get more serious about setting up your own store while learning more about the ins and outs of actually buying and selling things. You would get experience keeping track of accounts and inventory by having to keep track of what you had purchased, for how much, what Cedric is holding, what he has sold. You could get your business license and operate as a supplier, start learning the ins and outs of accounting and management. Win-win.

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17 Kandace July 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm

See how much time you have after the baby comes, and try the eBay route first. The auction prep can be done while baby is sleeping and you can wear baby in a carrier to go to sales and auctions. Once the little man comes out, you’ll have your biggest and most fulfilling project yet.

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18 Ryan July 9, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Don’t let the lack of a business plan stop you! You can bang one out in a weekend! Same with business insurance and the license, both should have minimal costs (I’d personally form an LLC as well).

Start out with the best of both world by setting up shop at a flea market on the weekends, that way you’re not tied down to a store during the week thus freeing up that time for buying and taking care of little baby $, and you still get to connect face to face with people!

American Pickers J$ style!

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19 Serena@ThriftDiving July 10, 2012 at 12:20 am

I don’t know why everyone recommends eBay at first; their fees are expensive, even just to list, even if you don’t sell. Be smart and use Craigslist at first. Seriously, I found a mid-century buffet for my Thrift Diving blog, which I was going to paint, but decided to see if I could turn it out for a profit, selling it as I bought it: unpainted and in perfect condition. I paid $40 for it at the thrift store… Paid $30 to haul it home…. And sol it online for a steal at $200. Seriously could have sold it for more, stupid me. But anyhow, Craigslist was the way to go. It was just a tester piece of furniture for me, and it proved that I could find aweso thrift deals and resell. I picked up an awesome vanity last week at the thrift store for freakin’ $11.00!! I could no doubt sell it on craigslist for over $100. Check out my Thrift Diving blog to see a pic.

Anyhow, go for it!

Serena
Thrift Diving

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20 Serena@ThriftDiving July 10, 2012 at 12:25 am

Oh, not to mention, I also went to the thrift store on a day they were having a phat deal, and ended up walking away with a buffet that I got for FREE, that they had out on the floor, marked for $60! Ha! No matter how much I were to see it for, it would be pure profit!

Hey, we should do business together! We ARE neighbors, eh? Go half on a booth somewhere…? I’m serious! Email me if it’s something you’d like to do!

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21 J. Money July 10, 2012 at 1:44 am

@Meg – Haha you should!!! I ALWAYS come across old cameras at yard sales too and think that very same thing — How much are these REALLY worth?? Should I pick them up and try to resell?? If I ever get this store up in action (or even an eBay biz/etc), then I’ll be giving it a shot for sure :)
@A Family of Geeks – Hmmm… very good point. I already forget about the little guy cuz he hasn’t made it into the world yet! :)
@Agatha – You know it!! You can be one of my first customers when I throw a VIP party the night before it opens ;)
@DebtsnTaxes – HAH! For real. I heard it’s hard to get steals at the storage war things too – not as easy as it looks on camera ;) But I do like the randomness of what you can find! Would be a big perk indeed for me if I go down that road…
@Kevin @ Thousandaire.com – Yeah, it’s certainly the quickest way to get up and going too, huh? Maybe I could use your video skills to put together a sexy ol’ video for the store too! We’d go viral in no time ;) (Wait. CAN you go viral in the phsyical world? Haha…)
@Barb – I’m liking the way you think :) I bet he’d at least *listen* to my proposal? Maybe I can get “us” online too and help him learn that area of things?
@Kandace – I think you’re right there, haha… I keep forgeting I have to keep him in mind with things! :)
@Ryan – Yeah, son! I like it!
@Serena@ThriftDiving – Oooooooooh you better not tease me, girl!! I might take you up on that as soon as this baby comes and we get settled! Love it :)

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22 Serena@ThriftDiving July 10, 2012 at 2:12 am

Ha! You’re a night owl, too! Commenting at 2 am……I’m convinced That we bloggers are vampires ;)

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23 Andrew@BankingBroke July 10, 2012 at 3:52 am

Very cool story.

Running a thrift store sounds a lot like running a blog. Who knows, maybe with your blogging skills you’d make an excellent thrift store owner?

I’ve recently watched a few episodes of Storage Wars (I swear there was nothing else on) and the one thing that struck me was their ability to gamble thousands of dollars at a time. I would imagine you’d need a lot of startup capital to establish a decent inventory.

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24 Serena@ThriftDiving July 10, 2012 at 6:05 am

Actually, Andrew, you really wouldn’t need a lot money, especially if he took some time and built up his inventory when he found awesome deals. I have found an $11.00 solid wood vanity (mentioned above), $12.00 solid wood dining room table, $18 card catalog, $5.00 chairs, $30 or less dressers, $5.00 coffee table….you name it, I can get it for cheap. My poor garage and the hoarding thats out there could land me quite a lot of money should I decide to start selling it!

Serena
Thrift Diving

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25 Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey July 10, 2012 at 7:46 am

With a brick and mortar store, your customers are limited. Why not sell on eBay instead? Since you already have an online store, you can simply add these antique products to your store, or maybe create a new one for the thrift shop. Furthermore, you do not need to ruch on your business idea. I suggest you do more research before totally starting with the business.

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26 Jess July 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I would definitely try online sales and then if that worked out, maybe buy an existing thrift store so it has a customer base built in.
You mentioned finding a working 1940 Singer machine. Those are actually much more common than you think. I just found 5 for $100 or less on a Craigslist search of my town. Its an item that seems like there wouldn’t be alot of but they were built to last and have.

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27 Skint in the City July 10, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Ha, this struck a chord J$ cos I’ve long fantasized about opening a vintage clothes store, picking up cool stuff at markets etc then reselling. I’ve got the name picked out and everything! Who knows if I’ll ever do it though – I got talking to a vintage clothes shop owner recently who was considering closing and just selling her stuff online. Lower overheads – but not as much fun either!

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28 J. Money July 10, 2012 at 7:53 pm

@Serena@ThriftDiving – Yes! The good vampires though :)
@Andrew@BankingBroke – It definitely takes RISK, that’s for sure. And knowing you’re not always going to score big no matter how hard you try. I think I could manage it in small doses in this present state, but I’d def. need more time and experience under my belt to feel totally confident.
@Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey – Cuz that’s boring ;) And I wouldn’t get to interact face to face w/ customers and the community like I’d want to either…
@Jess – Huh. Well that’s not as exciting as I’d hoped it to be then, haha… but I’m sure the one I saw was the best one anyone’s ever seen ;) Haha…
@Skint in the City – Awesome!! I hope you do go for it one day :) Are you allowed to tell us the name? Or me secretly via email??? I wanna know! :)

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29 eddie walther February 1, 2013 at 7:45 pm

i am scrap buyer and seller that what i do for a living. im thinking of this on line selling i buy lots of scrap that is good stuff to sell.

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30 J. Money February 2, 2013 at 9:34 am

Scrap as in scrap metals? like gold and silver? Or scrap products and what not? If it’s the former, heck yeah – you can make tons of money! Especially if you have a way to keep bringing it all in to melt down.

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31 Josh @ Money Butler July 11, 2012 at 1:41 am

Hoping to not just be a repeat post, but minimizing the onramp by just doing it on the side would be the lowest risk and probably the most fun, too.
I’ve got a friend that has been doing this for years and has actually made more money some years than through his full time job as an engineer. He won’t do it full time because he doesn’t want the pressure of having to find and flip deals all the time to pay the bills and has a blast doing it on the side.
He does sell most things through eBay and bigger items on Craigslist, but gets the face to face interaction while buying at yard sales and store liquidations.
I say just start and see what happens!

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32 Evan July 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I have been dying recently to open up a coin operated laundromat!

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33 J. Money July 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm

@Josh @ Money Butler – I love your friend!! That’s awesome (and encouraging)… I started picking up more stuff this weekend so we’ll see :) Just gotta figure out how it all works now that our baby has arrived! Haha… thanks for stopping by, my friend – love your site name.
@Evan – Oooooh that would be interesting! People still make good money off ‘em? Have you done much research yet, or just playing with the idea? I’d be interested in learning more too :)

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34 Danny Butcher October 19, 2012 at 1:25 am

I love this article!! I am in the same boat as you (without a child on the way, although our bellys maybe the same size!)
I am very keen to start a Thrift Clothing store and branch out from there. I have a unique concept also and have made contacts with organizations that could fill my store and split the profits!
I just reluctant to make the leap into a big retail contract etc etc….
Have you heard of NARTS? I’m tempted to look into them further.
Let me know how it’s all going, I’m an English CA resident so really need to spend time with someone and research the steps needed to take over here to make my dream a reality!

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35 J. Money October 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Yeah man! That really is the key – surrounding yourself with people already doing it to get a good sense of the lifestyle/pros/cons/etc. I’ve been hanging out a LOT lately with my consignment shop friends and I have my days where I’m completely sold on the idea of starting my own, and then not even wanting to touch it – haha… it’s def. a big commitment and is the complete opposite of online properties like I’m used to :) But I also think it would be sooooo much fun and that THAT will overwrite the bad parts, ya know? I’ll def. update everyone if I do go forward with it, but right now we’re on pause and enjoying baby time and just finding bargains on weekends… We’ll see what the future holds!

(And no – I haven’t heard of NARTS before, but I’ll go and google now :))

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36 Holly October 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Love this article!! It gave me inspiration to dream again about opening a thrift store. I am grateful to read the thoughts of others with the same dream. Thank you

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37 J. Money October 29, 2012 at 9:50 am

Very cool! You totally should let us know how it goes if you DO end up moving forward in the near future :) Would love to hear the inside scoop from someone doing it!

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38 genaro November 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm

how much capital do i need to start?

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39 J. Money November 28, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Oh man, no idea… But I bet it’s not much. Less than a more traditional store for sure. Especially if you have all the stuff you’d be selling in it already! Cuz what’s left after that? Rent and some marketing?

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40 sabrina December 1, 2012 at 7:45 am

this is exactly what i want to do..we should talk more…

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41 J. Money December 3, 2012 at 9:49 am

Cool! You’ll have to let me know if you get closer to making it a reality :) I’m trying out consigning and buying/selling at yard sales and thrift stores to get my toes wet still, and so far so fun!

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42 J Wolf December 11, 2012 at 8:48 pm

A friend of mine moved to Florida some years ago and she started buying things at flea markets and painting/repairing them and selling them. She now has a store called “Home Again” (just moved to her new/bigger location) and the furniture and stuff she posts on facebook is BEAUTIFUL! I think she runs most of her shop as consignment, but I know she LOVES what she does. Feel free to hit her up (Lisa Morris is her name)… tell her Johnny in Baltimore sent you. :O)

Best! John

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43 J. Money December 12, 2012 at 9:00 pm

AWESOME!!! I love your friend!! :) I will most def. tell her you sent me if I come across her site or reach out, that’s hilarious man… We’re neighbors here in the DC area.

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44 eddie walther February 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm

scrap metal cooper brass stuff like that. im trying this on line thing not working out to well . think i need a on line store or something. i get a lot of stuff on my stops and buy cheap good stuff. dont no how to start or weres the best place to go list it all. right now its an ebay . not have any luck.

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45 J. Money February 12, 2013 at 10:32 am

Hmm… that’s a tricky one. I don’t know much about that industry, but seems like it’s not as liquid as, say, flipping silver or gold where plenty of places will buy it from you :( maybe you can connect with a business that can use a lot of it? that would be pretty cool!

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46 JaimeV April 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Oh My GOODNESS!!!! I have NEVER left a comment on blog that I found in google but I absolutely HAD to today! I am currently a stay at home mom of three who is OBSESSED with finding deals at the thrift store! So just recently I told my husband I wanted to open a thrift store to supplement his income (which we totally need). Talk about an eye opener. #1 thing I didn’t consider “what if I can’t pay my rent” um HELLO! I guess I was living in a dream world where stores are just automatically successful. Although I live in a pretty artsy farsty city so maybe there is still hope. I think I’ll start with ebay and see where that takes me. Anywhoo Thanks for the article!

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47 J. Money April 8, 2013 at 11:13 am

Haha I get your first comment – WOOHOO! That’s awesome – I am honored :)

And yes – there is a LOOOOOT to think about when opening up your own thrift store/shop for sure. It’s a business after all so you really have to have the right mindset and expectations when going that route. But there’s nothing to say you can’t go for it in baby steps and work your way up! Rent out a booth at a flea market or antique mall or something – way less money and time investment :)

And it’s now Yard Sale season again too!!! So we can find more stuff for our stores, haha… aka our homes. Thanks for stopping by!

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48 kenisha May 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Good article..good info….something im definitely thinking of doing….

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49 kenisha May 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm

How much money do yo think i need to start?

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50 J. Money May 14, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Oh man, you’ve got me… I reckon it depends on where you live and how much rent costs there? That would seem to be the main expense, other than the purchasing of all the items to have enough to *open* the shop in the first place.

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51 Brenda May 15, 2013 at 3:29 am

That was fun to read. Depressing, too, since the reason I was reading it was an effort to find out about starting my own thrift store, and what I read pretty much warned me not to do it. For someone who does not have a store, I have an incredible knack for acquiring things to sell. Sometimes I fit what I can in the truck and go to the flea market, but all the lifting, packing and unpacking, then repacking…just wears me out. The same is true with having garage sales, which I do to avoid paying for the $20. flea market space and to be closer to my bathroom. But every time I have a sale, the neighbors bring over things for me to sell, and I end up with more things than I started with, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if I didn’t have to pack everything up and move it out of the driveway after every sale. So, sure, I thought about opening a store. A place where everything that didn’t sell could stay where it was until the next day. A place where my sale items would be out of the sun and the wind and the dust. A place that could be “open” every day just by unlocking the door. A place far enough away from my driveway that we could actually USE the driveway–for, you know, parking the cars on it–and maybe even put the cars in the garage once in awhile. These seemed like very good reasons for opening a store….
….until I read your article. Then I had to laugh at myself. In truth, didn’t you know that I would? Didn’t you write it so that all of your readers, we dreamers, could see how silly we were to think that having our own store would be less work and more play? I think that you did. And good for you! It was nicely done.

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52 J. Money May 20, 2013 at 10:55 pm

You win the comment of the day :) And bring up TONS of things I didn’t even think about like with all that packing/re-packing and just “unlocking the door” to all your goodies – are you trying to convince all of us to now DO IT??? you are!! I know it!! Haha…

Thanks for making me smile.

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53 Charlotte June 12, 2013 at 6:55 am

This post is kind of old but I am hoping you’ll see my comment anyway. I wanted to thank you for posting this and I had a good time reading all the responses. Like other posters, running a thrift shop is my dream job! In my fantasy it would be in some funky little downtown, or maybe somewhere like New Orleans’ French Quarter and it would be a historic building where I could live upstairs and have my store downstairs. Yes, I’ve been dreaming about this for most of my life (I am 42).

My biggest obstacle is money to rent a space. I have a great idea for a niche store in the college town I am soon moving to but the cheapest commercial space I’ve ever seen there that would be appropriate is still about $1500 a month and it’s just scary! Especially when I can’t even pay more than $950 a month for a rental for my family to live in.

I’ve been selling on eBay for almost fifteen years now on a part time basis, mostly clothing (vintage and high end modern) and I know what I am doing, but selling clothes on eBay is time consuming, and I’d love to be able to sell items in person that I currently wouldn’t bother with because of shipping challenges. I’m not giving up yet! I am currently researching booth rental options in my city to see if there is something affordable and indoors that I could use as a space to sell on weekends, to get my feet wet and see how this would work for me or if it would work at all. I figure if I can rent a booth cheap enough that I can manage the rent even if I sell NOTHING, it will be a good way to test it all out and would give me a better idea of what kind of money I could make in my own store and make the rents seem less scary.

I just wanted to share with others who “get” this particular dream of mine and wish us all luck if we ever actually decide to take the plunge!

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54 J. Money June 13, 2013 at 9:50 am

Woohoo! I like that idea of starting small (like with a booth) and seeing how it goes :) If you rock it you can slowly upgrade to a bigger space and eventually your own store. Some of the famous fashion designers use to sell stuff out of their cars before hitting it big! We all gotta start somewhere, right?

Glad you enjoyed the post and comments :) Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

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55 Big Dreams January 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm

This is a wonderful subject and conversation. I am in the process of researching and putting into action my opening of a thrift store. It has been something I’ve thought of for almost 2 years…it still makes me smile and my heart race. It doesn’t take a lot of money…I do not plan on giving up my day job…I love it and still have bills to pay. Everyday I do something that puts me one step closer to opening my dream.

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56 J. Money January 10, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Good for you! It’s like I say about tattoos – if you’re still thinking about it after a cple years, it’s probably safe to get it ;)

You’ll have to let us know how it goes once you’re movin’ and shakin’… Yard sale season will be starting again in a few months and it’ll be prime for picking up bargains for it! Good luck!

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