How to start a second hand store

Written by jennifer metz
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Starting a second hand store can be a fun process. When dealing with second hand, or used, items, you never know what treasures you may come across. But, aside from the fun aspect of it, running a second hand store is similar to running any retail business. There are expenses, budgets, payroll, taxes and long hours. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, starting a second hand store can be rewarding.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Storefront
  • Cash register
  • Sign

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  1. 1

    Call your local city hall to inquire about business permits needed in your area. Ask about the process and costs involved.

  2. 2

    Find a local storefront to purchase or rent. Call a local realtor to help you, or do your own legwork. Tour the store, noting the condition, arrangement, location and parking. If you will purchase and require a mortgage, meet with a mortgage lender and discuss your options.

  3. 3

    Visit several second hand stores in your area for ideas. Starting a second hand store of your own allows you the freedoms to design your store as you wish, but it can be valuable to learn from other stores. Note which stores seem busier than others and why. Is the store neater? In a busier area? Does it have more items?

  4. 4

    Meet with an accountant. This is important for tax reasons. There are different taxes to consider, such as sales tax and payroll tax. Find an accountant who specialises in small businesses so you may reap the benefits of tax deductions. A good accountant is worth her price.

  5. 5

    Start accumulating items for your second hand store. Decide if you will resell items on consignment or whether you will purchase items outright from people. Inquire about laws regarding taking donations.

  6. 6

    Set up your store. Install a counter for your cash register and shelves and hanging rods for clothing and items. Make the store presentable, organised and clean to entice shoppers to stay and browse longer, and to come back again. First impressions are important and often made within 30 seconds of stepping into a store. Place a large, visible sign out front to attract customers and to make your place easy to find.

  7. 7

    Host a grand opening to introduce your store to the community. Serve refreshments if possible and make it a big deal. The more attention for your store, the better business you get. The purpose of a grand opening is not necessarily to profit on that day, but to gain future and repeat customers.

Tips and warnings

  • Find a business attorney to help you if you decide to take donations. You may need to register as a not-for-profit or non-profit.
  • Consider a franchise. Check out the second hand store franchises you can invest in.
  • Treat people fairly. They will remember and return to shop again.
  • Keep good records.
  • Budget. Even though items are second hand, this is still a business.

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