How can I save time acquiring merchandise for my new thrift store startup?

QUESTION:

I’m starting thrift store. Should I just rely on searching for used clothing from garage sales, auctions, and other thrift stores? Or are there any types of businesses that specifically sell used clothing for startup thrift stores? I understand that searching for the used clothing is part of the businesses, but I’d rather have a better system in place than going out constantly to such places. Any advice or creative ideas would be helpful.

ANSWER:

Naomi Kokubo

Naomi Kokubo

by Naomi Kokubo, Cofounder of Founders Space

You may want to advertise that you’ll buy used clothing in your community and let inventory come to you. Post it on CraigsList, hang a big sign on your storefront saying “We Buy Used Clothing”, and handout fliers in the neighborhood. Let everyone in your community know that you are someone who buys used clothing, and let people come to you when they want to get rid of old clothes.

In addition, if you care less about quality than quantity, you can try buying in bulk. I’m sure there are places that sell used clothing in bulk at steeply discounted prices. Maybe a lot of it is junk, but if the price is low enough, it can save you time running around, and time is money!

Another option is eBay. You never have to leave your home if you buy on eBay. Over time, you might be able to develop some trusted relationships, where you can buy enough clothing to off-set the shipping costs.

Also, see the comments below.  Lots of good ideas!

Comments & Advice:
  1. mick says:

    Hello guys.. I live in florida and im looking to buy some used clothing wholesale to send to Haiti….feel free to contact me anytime at 954 687 5699 ….May God bless you all

  2. Carla says:

    I am actually selling my Thrift Store in Juneau Alaska. All inventory is free!! And that is no lie. Email me at [email protected] if you are interested in living in Alaska and buying a Turn Key Business.

  3. Sydney says:

    I sell vintage clothing in bulk! Email me

  4. Nguyen says:

    I am looking to open a thrift store in Memphis, Tennessee. Do you know of any supplies that are close to that area?

  5. Caleb says:

    I am selling a bunch of brand new apparel from a clothing company that is shutting down. Please message me for more details. Wanting to get rid of in 25+ batches for $4-6 per shirt.

    Check out http://renegadeclothing.storenvy.com/ to see the style of apparel.

  6. Cliff says:

    Raghouse.com

    I’m not affiliated with this site but I do use it

  7. Steve says:

    Hi, my name is Steve, and my company (Pennyprizes) sells exclusively to thrift stores. The majority of what we sell are home goods, but we also sell clothes in bulk.

    The clothing items we keep for resale are generally clean, occasionally new with tags, and does not contain T-shirts, or items that are ripped or stained.

    You can contact us through the website, or at [email protected]

    We are located in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, and welcome all inquiries.

  8. Daren Parker says:

    Hi Douglas Burnet.

    Please would you be able to give me any details on
    the above rag houses that you have mentioned. I am in the UK but am after american clothing in a big way. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks to you.

    Daren.

  9. I forgot, we can do 100 and 1,000 lbs bales. We are brokers of used clothing. This post was updated on Dec/04/2013.

    Email: [email protected]

  10. Hi everyone, I want to introduce my company, we are a wholesaler of AA grade used clothing by bulk, we sell 40 lbs bales at $42 plus shipping. I think that together we can do better business. Shipping to San Antonio, Austin or Dallas TX is around $30. Please send me your zip code to give you an accurate shipping price.
    Email: [email protected]

  11. Trish says:

    I would love to hear more about rag houses and would also like to take advantage of the clothes offered by Gladys

    [email protected]

  12. Miriam says:

    Hi Douglas. I’m interested in the rag houses in Texas. Do u know of any that allow hand picking for vintage clothing. 80s dresses. Sequin dresses. Ect.. Thanx. My email is [email protected]

  13. Glendy says:

    Hello “I’m looking to start a Thrift Store in Dallas”, we are a clothing thrift store in Valley View Texas, The Clothing Closet, just one hour north of Dallas on I35. We are a Christian Mission through the Valley View United Methodist Church and always have lots of clothing donated to our Mission. We sell at discounted prices and give to those in need. We always have more clothing than what our location can stock and would love to furnish your store with great clothing. Please let me know if you are interested. We need to move some clothing quickly.

  14. Jan says:

    Hi
    I am looking for Rag houses in Ontario Canada.
    Any help would be great
    Thanks
    januk12000″yahoo.ca

  15. Magalene says:

    I am looking to open a thrift store on kingstree or myrtle beach sc and I am looking for info.on rag house and any other info.on buying bulks of used clothing.i love to hear anything you have to say about starting a thrift store. [email protected]

  16. Magalene says:

    I am looking to open a thrift store on kingstree or myrtle beach sc and I am looking for info.on rag house and any other info.on buying bulks of used clothing.

  17. Tali says:

    Hi Douglas,

    I would love to get a list of raghouses from you as well.

    Thank you

    [email protected]

  18. Rose Harper says:

    I am looking to open a thrift store in nc…any info would be greatly appreciated

  19. Hildy says:

    Hi Douglas Burnet,
    I am also going to open a thriftstore. Please send me info as well on these rag houses.

    For those opening or have a thriftstore already, I would like to connect with you. Perhaps you can provide some tips. I have not started my store yet but would like to soon.

    My email is [email protected]

  20. tammy says:

    I also would like to know more about the rag house as i am opening a thrift store..

    [email protected]

  21. Jeannie says:

    Hi Douglas Burnet, We would like to get any info you have regards finding these rag houses and also if you are aware of places to get furnishings as well. We are currently looking for spaces to open soon in San Antonio and would appreciate any insight you can provide regarding what types of areas to look for to open a thrift store as well. Thank you. Jeannie email: [email protected]

  22. Norma says:

    I’m also in Austin, Douglas or Kayla can you email me the info?

  23. James Sillivan says:

    Douglas Burnet I would like to know where I can buy vintage aprons in bundles for my etsy store? I live in TX near Dallas.
    email: [email protected]

    Thank you

    James Sillivan

  24. morgandy says:

    Douglas Burnet, do you know of any rag houses in New England…I would assume the Boston area.

  25. kayla martinez says:

    could you please send me some information on the Rag houses

    im located in Austin TX

  26. Douglas Burnet says:

    I operated a wholesale vintage clothing trading company in the 90s. Most of our inventory came from “Rag Houses”, large-scale used clothing grading and sorting facilities which exist in most metropolitan areas. Some of the best ones are in the midwest and texas. Feel free to contact me for more information. You most definitely can access these facilities for large quantities of clothing.

  27. Klivings says:

    Where do you live. I know someone that is closing their thrift store near warsaw, Va. and has ALOT of merchindise such as nick nacks, silk flowers, X-mas decorations etc. If you leave close maybe we can hook up.
    Karen
    Northern Virginia

  28. Deloisnelly35 says:

    Hi you can check out http:/enjoylifeproducts.ecrater.com
    justhebasics at bonanzle .com, this is a great place to buy great quality clothing, for a good price. I believe every item is $5.00

  29. Bruce has an excellent idea, most of the time clothes are the last thing to go at a garage sale. In additon, many communitites hold “rummage sales” and, again there are always many (often high-quality) things left over. Something else to consider is simply advertising. In this day and age, people are always looking for ways to get rid of *stuff* without it going to landfill, several groups like PARCA send out flyers or postcards saying they will be driving down your street on a certain date and they will pick up anything out at the curb with a copy of the postcard taped to it, other places simply run small adverts reminding people that they can drop off their gently-loved items during normal business hours.

  30. Bruce Onder says:

    You might want to focus on buying everything left over at the end of a garage sale, yard sale, etc. for a single super-cheap flat price. This way you get volume at a minimal cost and time expenditure.