How to Generate Sales for a Thrift Store

While once considered a place for buying low-end used merchandise, many thrift stores are taking an upscale approach to selling trendy vintage items and antiques, as well as new close-out merchandise. Thrift stores can be successful by taking a page from the marketing approach of general retailers, hosting promotional events and advertising sales.

Get a Reputation

  1. Set yourself apart from the competition by being known for something unique. Maybe you have eye-catching displays, feature a clearance sale every Friday, sell “mystery shopper” bags at a discount or merchandise your stock in a way that’s easy for customers to find what they’re looking for. That differentiation could be the driving force that wins you customer loyalty.

Run Sales

  1. Bring in customers with special sales, like everything you can fit into a paper sack for a few dollars or buy-one-get-one discounts. Have unusual or fun promotions, like giving a price break to anyone wearing the local sport team’s colors on game day or having a “ladies night” shopping spree that lasts an hour.

Merchandise Creatively

  1. Set up merchandise in a way that encourages shoppers to stop and look. For example, rather than stack an unassembled baby crib along a wall, put the bed together, make it up with pretty bedding and set a rocking chair and a baby blanket alongside to create a warm and welcoming display.

Price it Right

  1. Don’t be afraid to put higher price tags on antiques or vintage, in-demand items like old concert t-shirts or designer clothing items. In fact, set up different areas of the store devoted to higher-end merchandise for those shopping for high-quality goods.

Go Online

  1. Generate higher profits from expensive products by selling them online, either through your own website or a popular online auction site. This exposes your products to a vastly larger audience and can ramp up sales, bringing in higher prices than what you’re likely to get in your storefront.

Unload the Junk

  1. Host a sidewalk sale to get rid of merchandise that’s not drawing interest, pricing everything to move. You’ll generate a little something extra while simultaneously encouraging browsers to come into the shop to look at more quality merchandise.


  1. Even though advertising and marketing can be expensive, even a modest budget can raise awareness of your store. Post fliers on community bulletin boards, put ads in bags at point-of-sale and market on college campuses. Buy booth space at community yard sales and swap meets, both to sell and to promote your business.