Opening a resale shop or thrift store is a romantic dream for many. Selling vintage clothes or recycling antiques from yesteryear can be great fun!
But a resale shop is also a business. That means you need to bring new customers through the door every day if you want the venture to thrive and survive.
To reach new shoppers, you’ll need to use all the traditional methods of marketing and advertising that any other retail business would employ. From printing fliers to creating newspaper, radio and television ads to engaging online with potential customers.
However, customer service is paramount in the resale industry, says Adele Meyer, executive director of NARTS: The Association of Resale Professionals.
“Customer service is key,” she says. “They won’t get current customers to return or to refer new customers to them if they don’t have a very high level of personalized customer service.”
The Power Of Great Customer Service
In fact, treating your customers right is the best way to drive your bottom line higher, according to Meyer.
“Word-of-mouth referrals are probably more relevant in the resale industry than in other forms of retail,” she says.
That means resale shops and thrift stores need to go above and beyond to meet their customers’ needs — everything from helping shoppers find the right items to suggesting add-on items that will complete an apparel outfit or a furniture setting.
“Our member stores focus on customer service that isn’t found in the big-box stores,” Meyer says. “Because of the high level of customer service, many customers refer a shop to their circle of family and friends.”
More Ways To Bring In New Customers
Great customer service will keep customers coming back, and word of mouth will bring in new shoppers. But don’t stop there.
There are many other ways to attract new customers to your resale shop. They include:
Some shops allow customers to host evening events and gatherings at the store. The store owner can add sweeteners to the experience, such as offering refreshments or a fashion show as part of the event, Meyer says.
Or, perhaps you could plan your own evening event – such as a short class on an area of interest pertinent to the merchandise category, Meyer says. Examples she suggest include lessons on:
- Scarf tying
- Packing for travel
- Furniture painting
Every time you host an event, you open an opportunity for more future business. “Evening events bring in new customers, some who may have never been exposed to resale,” Meyer says.
Advertise your inventory online.
Meyer says many of her organization’s member shops put a lot — or all — of their inventory for sale online.
“This makes it easy for someone who sees an item they think a friend or relative may love to forward a link,” she says.
Offer items that appeal to the right demographic.
The neighborhood in which your thrift store is located should drive the types of items you list for sale.
Is your business in a place where families live or congregate? Offer kids toys and clothes. Do you live in an area with a lot of rental housing? Sell furniture that renters need when moving in.
“This isn’t an industry like convenience stores, who basically all carry the same type of products,” Meyer says. “This industry is much more specialized, and therefore each shop has to determine its own target market.”
Make technology your friend.
Too many resale shops fail to take advantage of modern methods of reaching shoppers, such as email, social media and ecommerce, Meyer says.
She urges shop owners to keep up with current technology trends, and to be proactive and creative with social media and other modern methods of marketing.
For example, collect your customers’ email addresses, and send them notices of upcoming sales, or even simply birthday greetings.
Keep your thrift store inventory and your customer contact information organized with Talus Pay. To learn more about how Talus Pay’s POS can benefit your resale shop, get a free quote today.