I don’t know if there are any thrift store owners or employees that read my little ol’ blog, but just in case I decided to do a post on what I think makes a thrift store really work!
Of course the selection of merchandise will vary from store to store, so this article is more about the aesthetic and customer service aspects of a store. Thrifting is as good an opportunity as any to build a relationship between the customer and the employee to encourage the former to return again and again.
Tip #1: Make sure that your store doesn’t smell. We are all familiar with that Salvation Army back-room-smell by now, and it’s a big turnoff for smaller stores that don’t enjoy as big a customer base. Some people are really sensitive to artificial smells, so consider a gentle artificial air freshener scent such as fresh linen or cotton. On nice days, open the doors to get fresh air circulating, which will also encourage people to come inside once they get a glimpse of your pretty racks!
Tip #2: Organization and cleanliness are key. There is nothing more important than a well-organized thrift store – how many times have you avoided a rack entirely just because there’s so many hangers jammed on that it’s impossible to sift through? Choose only the most relevant items to put out – organized by size or color- and rotate from the back stock to avoid clutter. If you have higher-end goods in a glass case, make the price tags visible. People are less likely to wait in a line just to ask how much something is. As for cleanliness, I like these tips.
Tip #3: Friendly staff is a must. This should be obvious, but “bad” customer service doesn’t always mean that employees say rude things to customers. It can also mean blank stares, lack of greeting, and general unfriendly expressions. Hire employees that love the thrift culture and their attitudes will reflect that!
Tip #4: Try setting up a new section such as a vintage area or a case of new/unopened cosmetics. Is there a college nearby? Offer apparel (like hoodies and scarves) or housewares (such as toasters) that students need. This can set you apart from other shops and bring in a different set of clientele. The more variety you offer, the more time people will spend checking out your store.
Tip #5: Discounts are a shining beacon, especially in a consignment store. Military Mondays, Student Saturdays, Teenager Thursdays…get creative and also consider offering a stamp card or frequent buyer similar system for your regulars. Second Time Around has a great points program if you need inspiration.
Above all, treat your customers with love and respect. They’ll spread the word about the best thrift store in town: yours!
I’d love to hear about what you love/hate to see when shopping in a thrift store, or what you wish someone would do in your favorite thrift store!