Cascade Alliance

Technique Tuesday: Keys to a Successful Thrift Store

This week’s Technique Tuesday will focus on tips to run a successful thrift store.  Since Thanksgiving is coming up, we’re using that holiday as an analogy for these key tips to success.  These keys to success were provided by St. Vinnie’s General Store’s Director, Leisha Wallace.

5 keys to having a successful thrift store:

  1. 1. Clean: keep your stores clean. Just like at Thanksgiving when you welcome people into your house, you always clean before guests arrive.  We like to do the same with our stores for incoming customers.
  2. 2. Greet: Always greet your customers. We like to think of treating our customers with a friendly greeting just like when friends and family walk through your doors at Thanksgiving.
  3. 3. Feed your product to them. A Thanksgiving meal has many appetizing dishes and keeps people full. Just like a Thanksgiving feast, display your items in a nice fashion to your customers and always make sure you keep adding stock to your shelves.  At your registers look at what they bought and tell them that you stock those items all the time to build your customer base. At Thanksgiving, you also have prepared enough food for everyone. Make sure your store is full so that all incoming customers may walk away with a find.
  4. 4. Thank them for coming in.
  5. 5. Invite them back. We want to make sure that they have a pleasant experience while they are in our stores.


Customer service: Your customer service is internal and external. We all work together and both are important. Warehouses, clothing sorters, truck drivers and donors are external customers and we are all to treat each other with great customer service. It is our job to give others excellent service. We are to treat our internal customers and donors like they are the most important person that comes into your store. Make connections with your customers and remember who they are. Show enthusiasm. Cater to each person and watch your tone. When you know a customer doesn’t like to be bothered or wants to shop on their own don’t hassle them. But also make them feel welcome.

Market your stores and make them look like a department store not a junk store. Take pride in your store and your customers will, too.