Thrift stores are great places to find gently used clothing, furniture, and household items for a fraction of the price you would pay at a regular retail store. Their inventory changes daily, and you can sometimes find really unique finds.
But where do thrift stores get their inventory and how do they find all these unique items? Let’s break it down.
Thrift stores can get inventory from donations.
Many thrift stores get their inventory from donations. People can donate items that they no longer want or need. These items are then sorted and sold in the thrift store. Some thrift stores will even pick up donations from people’s homes.
When you donate items to a thrift store, they will either sell them in the store or online, or they will send them to a third party. The items that are sold in the store are typically priced at around 30% of their original retail value. The most popular items that are donated are clothing, shoes, books, and small household items.
The items that are sold online are typically priced higher because there is a larger audience for them. The most popular items that are sold online are vintage clothes, furniture, and collectibles.
The items that are sent to a third party are typically larger items such as appliances and electronics. These items are usually sold to businesses who then resell them or use them for parts.
Thrift stores can get inventory from other businesses.
Many people are surprised to learn that thrift stores don’t just rely on donations from the public. In fact, a significant portion of their inventory comes from other businesses.
Clothing retailers, for example, often donate overstock or returned items to thrift stores. And while some of these items may be damaged or out of season, there are usually plenty of gems to be found.
Furniture stores also occasionally donate items to thrift stores, and these can range from small pieces like lamps and end tables to larger items like couches and dressers.
As another example, When a business goes out of business, they often have to liquidate their assets. This means that they sell their inventory for pennies on the dollar. Thrift stores can buy this inventory and then resell it at a higher price.
Now that you know where most thrift stores get their inventory, next time you’re at a thrift store, take a look around and try to imagine where each item came from. Who donated it? Was it bought from another store? Or maybe it was recycled from something else entirely. Whatever the case is, you can know one thing for certain — every piece has its own story to tell.