I have never been a big fan of thrift stores but one year my son was helping with props at a local theater company and we spent the better part of three months running in and out of thrift stores looking for unique items to be used in an upcoming production. As he searched for items on his list, I wandered around and sometimes ended up talking to people while I waited. That’s how I ended up with an idea for starting a home business that just may work for you, too.
Although this business is home-based, it does require some time outside of the home. If that doesn’t work for you, making money online might be a better option.
Some Thrift Stores are Consignment Stores
One thing I learned as we hopped from one store to another is that not all thrift stores are thrift stores. Some thrift stores are consignment stores. That means that for a small fee, you can rent a space in the store and sell your cast-offs. In addition to a small rental fee, the store usually retains a percentage of the sales price. At my store, it’s 10%.
At first, the idea didn’t appeal to me all that much. I had participated in community yard sales in the past and decided that it was way too much work for the amount of money I received in the process. Not only that, but I ended up with a sunburn that plagued me for days! This seemed to much like a yard sale to appeal to me.
The woman at the thrift store I had in mind was very friendly and suggested that I just try it for three months and see what it was like. That seemed reasonable, so that’s what I did. I started with a bookshelf that had five shelves and I filled it with random items that I no longer wanted.
To my amazement, the next time I stopped in I found out that people had bought some of my stuff! I had earned enough money to pay my rent for the month with pocket change left over and another payday coming before the end of the month.
Buy it on Clearance, Sell it at Retail
As I walked around the store, I noticed that some vendors must be purchasing things on clearance regularly because whenever a holiday rolled around their shelves would fill up with appropriate new in-the-box items. I became more mindful of clearance sales after holidays and started to put a few things aside.
I also realized that some of those random items that I had purchased because they were a good deal might sell for a profit at the thrift store. I always kept a box of items in case I needed a last minute gift for a child’s birthday party or something and my box was overflowing. Once again, my shelves were stocked and items sold.
Be Among the First to Find a Good Deal
There’s more to consigning than just selling and making money. If you spend much time in the shop, you’ll start to find things that have been on your wish list for some time. Most of the time, you’ll be able to buy the item at a price well below retail. I recently purchased a like-new laptop case that had everything I was looking for at the amazing price of $7.00. Another item that had been on my wishlist for a couple of years was an artificial tree. Even at 40% off at the local craft store, I couldn’t rationalize spending $45-$125 or more for something frivolous just for me. The day I found one at the thrift store for $14, complete with a string of white lights, I was ecstatic!
Many items in these stores are brand new, in packages. In addition to purchasing items on clearance for resale, vendors sell gently-used items, or gifts that they received and didn’t use. They can sell these items at prices below retail and still make a decent profit. That means savings for you! I mentally add my savings to my profits on items that I would have purchased at full price eventually.
Get More, Sell More
Once friends realized what I was doing, they started to give me things they didn’t want anymore. All I had to do was go over and pick it up. To them, I was offering a free service when I took their old, used junk away but to me it was potential for profit. One friend gave me three large boxes full of jigsaw puzzles which I sold for $3.00 each. They disappeared fast! I have sold puzzles for more or less, depending on the quality and number of pieces.
Another time, I offered to clean up after a wedding that I was not part of. Everyone was so eager to leave for the reception that they told me I could keep anything I didn’t want to throw away. I ended up with about a dozen beautiful baskets that sold for $4 each as well as some other salable items.
Buying for Resale
I have noticed that some retailers purchase items at places like Dollar Tree or Oriental Trading Company, mark them up and sell them. It must be working because I see items disappearing and inventory expanding in those areas.
At least one vendor purchases clothes at the end of the seasons and sells them at very reasonable prices. One summer, I bought a new wardrobe for about $30. She made money and I saved some. Since I had dropped a couple of sizes, I really needed new clothes so I was thrilled with my haul.
Arts & Crafts and More
Several vendors make items for sale. There’s a rack of nifty hand-sewn wine holders, another of decorative dish towels, shelves of painted bird-houses, and other creative creations. Homemade jewelry has appeared and disappeared and I have seen creative kits made by a child to keep toddlers busy.
There’s a cooler for cold drinks and a shelf of local-made jams and jellies. Another vendor sells potato chips from a local factory, probably purchased at a discount. Someone else created a display of candy bars and gum and placed them near the check-out register in hopes of snagging an impulsive buyer.
An All-Around Fun Hobby
For me, this has become a fun hobby. I have been able to sell enough to pay my shop rent every month and have a nice vacation fund tucked away. It’s fun to meet other vendors and share stories of how we got started and why as well as where we find the treasures we sell.
I have expanded my “store” so now I have two tall bookcases with a rack between them for hanging small packaged items. There’s also a small table nearby and room on the floor in front of my shelves for additional items.
Some of us are able to work in the store a few hours each week and that allows us a discount on our rent.
How About You?
Have you thought of anything you might sell? What do you think about the idea? Have you made money in similar ways like at a yard sale or community craft festival? Sharing your comments below might help other readers find additional ways to start a home business.
If selling stuff in a consignment store isn’t your thing, you may like this free training that teaches how to make money online.