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How to Create a Successful Thrift Store and Sell Online

8 min read

Online retail has become a massive industry, netting over $1 trillion in 2022 in the U.S. alone. With so many shoppers turning to the internet, retailers and entrepreneurs are taking advantage by setting up shop online too. These days, it’s possible to buy just about anything online. From clothes to automobiles, and electronics to food, all consumer needs can be satisfied by ecommerce.

So, what does that mean for thrift stores? One of the more unique retail settings, where customers find an eclectic assortment of second-hand items, seems like it would be difficult to replicate online. But this is not the case. Opening an online thrift store is still a viable business option for ecommerce entrepreneurs. But, like any business venture, it does require a bit of work and research.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to start an online thrift store.

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How to Start an Online Thrift Store Business: Discovering Your Market

The first challenge when it comes to how to start a second hand store online is figuring out your market. This is important for any online retail business. However, it is uniquely challenging when it comes to an online thrift store. Traditional thrift stores can often feel very cluttered and chaotic. However, online thrift stores can leverage their digital platforms to create a much more organized, curated experience. Doing so requires a discerning eye for inventory, and research into what products will sell the best.

Discovering Your Niche

A good first step when starting an online thrift store is to conduct some research to find your niche. Focusing on a certain category of an item can make your online shop a go-to destination for certain shoppers. For instance, your online thrift store can specialize in selling books, clothes, antiques, home decor, or any other type of item.

You do not need to limit or restrict yourself too much when running an online thrift store. But identifying certain items that are in high demand with little market competition is always key to any business plan.

Market Competition

Finding your niche also requires you to look into the market competition. Some used or second-hand items are difficult to find online. If you can corner the market for a certain type of item, you will have no market competition at all. But if your chosen niche already has heavy market competition, it may be worth looking into other areas for your business.


Another unique facet of opening an online thrift is figuring out item pricing. Certain items might have a higher price point than others. This can make them appealing as a seller. However, it can also be more difficult to acquire these items for your store. Finding a good balance of items with a healthy price point is important, especially early on in your business.

Inventory Management

Perhaps the most frequently asked question about how to start an online resale store is where to find items. Inventory management can be a significant challenge for online thrift stores. Here are some ways you can navigate these challenges for your online business.

Where To Find Items

The best places to find items for your online thrift store are yard sales, flea markets, and clearance sales. Don’t be afraid to extend your search range when starting. You can find some truly unique items if you’re willing to travel a bit for inventory. Additionally, you can also search other online vendors on platforms like eBay for unique second-hand items.

Inventory Storage

It can be very easy, sometimes too easy, to overlook your storage needs when starting an online thrift store. For this reason, we recommend starting with a small inventory at first. Don’t take on more inventory than you can reasonably keep in storage. It also makes sense to focus on smaller items at first as well.

If you have room in your home for storage, whether in a garage, basement, or spare room, that’s perfect. But many online businesses end up renting storage units for their inventory. Storage unit prices can vary based on location, so finding a good deal can make a big difference.

Another key tip when it comes to item storage is to keep things organized. Have a system for arranging items so that they are easy to find (and safe) when you need to get them out of storage.

How to Start an Online Thrift Store: Setting Up Shop

At last, the time has come to discuss what it takes to open your online thrift store. There are a few options available to you when creating your online store.

Ecommerce Platforms

If you are hoping to create a new website for your online thrift store, an ecommerce platform is your best option. Ecommerce platforms like Ecwid provide business owners with all of the tools and resources they need to effortlessly set up their online shops.

When you use an ecommerce platform, many of the basic challenges of setting up your website are taken care of. For instance, Ecwid makes it very easy to design a custom website with your ideal layout, along with product listings and smooth payment processing tools. This makes it easier for you to reach customers, convert views into sales, and receive payment.

Online Marketplaces

In addition to setting up your own dedicated site, you can also use other online marketplaces to sell your items. We have already mentioned eBay as a great place for sourcing items. But you can also use eBay as a place to reach customers and sell your own wares. Other options include Facebook Marketplace and, of course, Amazon.

Selling on third-party platforms and creating your own store using an ecommerce platform are not mutually exclusive options. You can do both, and can even seamlessly connect your store with different platforms to reach a wider audience. Both are great options and can help to maximize your profits when starting your online business.

Interested in learning more about getting started using an ecommerce platform? Read about Ecwid’s free and premium plans or getting started with Ecwid.


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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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