How to Start an Online Thrift Store

Thrift store set up

This article is written by Aayushi Dokania.

The idea of thrifting has gained significant prominence over the past year due to the nationwide lockdown and the subsequent consequences of it. 

Small businesses have flourished to a colossal extent and offer a vast array of products and services to consumers. 

Thrifting is a much wider concept than just grabbing latest fashion picks at affordable prices. It is about advocating sustainable fashion while saving money and resources. It provides a wide range of home-grown business opportunities. 

Thrift stores have taken the world of social media by storm and several online stores are selling pre-loved, handpicked pieces and minimal rates to consumers pan India and worldwide as well.

In a world where fashion industry is all about the “hype culture” can newcomers establish themselves while advocating ethical shopping? Thrift stores are an easy way to stay relevant, promote slow fashion and make some cash. Moreover, who doesn’t love latest clothing at affordable prices and also entirely sustainable?

So, how can a newcomer start their own online thrift store?

How to Start an Online Thrift Store

Step-1: Good internet connectivity, knowledge of internet and social media

At this digital age, the major requirement is good internet connectivity. Stores do not have to be a walk-in type, online stores offering consumers the comfort of home are doing just fine in this masked world. Besides, walk-in stores require good investment and maintenance. So, all one needs is a Social Media page be it Instagram or Facebook.

Step-2: Sourcing of good and in-demand merchandise

Identifying the niche of products is essential be it clothing, footwear, accessories or any other product. Since thrift stores sell pre-loved items, closet clearances are a good way to begin with. It can be personal, friends or even customers closet clearances. Requesting donations from people is a good idea, items they think have a longer shelf life can be cycled around. 

Upcycling old garments adds a new and personal touch to clothes. Sourcing merchandise from wholesalers willing to offer a fair price for bulk order can be a good deal. Undamaged items or items with small defects that can be fixed from manufacturing factories and yard sales can be collected. A good collection can be curated with thorough research of the market and grabbing the rare finds.

Step-3: Pricing of the item 

After curating a collection, the next main step is to decide on the pricing. Affordable prices are what consumers look for at thrift stores. There are many factors that contribute to costing of each item.
  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Sourcing time
  • Time spent on fixing each item
  • Packaging cost
  • Shipment cost

Step-4. Managing order delivery / Shipping

The shipment cost can vary based on the delivery service and the location. 

The item should be thoroughly sanitized and packed in a nature-friendly material preferably.

Step-5: Promote your Store

Advertising the store can be through social media previews, shoutouts, mentions and even word of mouth. Since the consumers can only see the products through images, attractive pictures should be taken. 

Step-6: Product detailing on the online store

Transparency is the most essential component in running an online business. Since the consumers cannot have a feel of the garment, proper pictures and details regarding size and design should be shared. Defects if any should be mentioned and no query should go unanswered. If only single pieces are available, customers should have a fair chance. Payment methods should be clearly mentioned. Privacy of the customers should be maintained. This will help in building a stronger community for your business.


An online thrift store has several advantages such as it does not require license or a big investment. Your home can be the inventory and you can cut on the traditional costs. However, setting up an online thrift store requires considerate research and meticulous hard work. But it’ll all pay off when people actually start making efforts in eliminating fast fashion. A responsible consumer is what the world needs in its battle against fast fashion. There is no harm in making a little money while saving your planet, isn’t it?

Related read: How to Set-Up an Online Store for Clothing Business?
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About the Author:
Aayushi is pursuing her undergraduate degree in Fashion Technology from NIFT, Kannur. Her interests lie in sustainability, newer innovations, functional and technical garments.

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