We are not a thrift store… yet.

Sometimes we hear people say that our prices are too high, and we never know what to say. Usually, we say that we try to price for the average person, but who knows what average is any more?

We have a hair salon connected to our store. We know, sorta weird, but that is a whole other story. One of the salon girls told us that one of her clients complained about our pricing as well; that we were too expensive for a secondhand store. You know what the stylist said back? Without even thinking, she replied, “Well, they are not a thrift store!”

Oh my goodness, how perfect. Of course we are not a thrift store! Then it dawned on us that there are definite differences between a second-hand store, a thrift store, and a consignment store!

A second-hand store, owned by a second-hand dealer, has inventory that the dealer has hunted down and paid for.  They buy low and sell high to earn back what they initially paid, plus more. The dealer is free to lower the price as he is the only one that will take a loss.

In the consignment business, the store owner cannot just lower the prices willy nilly because, technically, the stock is not theirs to do with what they want. They have the “owner” of the item to look after as well. So this will keep the price elevated as there are technically 2 people wanting to share in the profit.

The thrift store gets their inventory for FREE! So they can price ANY WAY THEY WANT! and they don’t have to share any of the money, except with their charity if they are non-profit. You may find in non-profit charity thrift shops the prices even lower, as the theory is they are passing on the savings to the people. Then we have the for-profit thrift shops that are not affiliated with any charity. They are just another regular retail store. Their prices may be a little higher, as they are in the business to make money, but since they do not have “inventory bills” (i.e. consigners), they can price lower then a consignment store.

But… the result of getting stock for free is the quality will be lower, so logically, the prices have to be lower. Since the  quality in a consignment store is higher, the prices will be higher. It’s interesting how a consignment store will naturally have higher quality items, as in our experience, people rarely give away things that they perceive have value. There are exceptions to this, but more often than not, when someone has something “good” they need to get rid of, they may look at other avenues first, before giving it away!

All of this analyzing started us thinking…….(no laughing)

We started to wonder, why is there a thrift store on every corner like gas stations? Value Village is a huge corporation based on thrift. Someone owns Value Village, they have opened multiple stores and each store has employees to pay, not volunteers. Even the Sally Anne, which is affiliated with the Salvation Army has enough money to open multiple stores AND give to their charity. So as this revelation settled into my head, we started to think that maybe we’re in the wrong business!

Also, as far as we can find out, there is no set amount or percentage that a non-profit thrift store must give to charity. The owner of a thrift store can pay all their bills and staff, give a small token amount to charity and have money left over for himself.

So we did a bit of googling and found this interesting article:

http://www.vcreporter.com/cms/story/detail/the_truth_behind_thrift_stores_and_their_charities/7660/

Here is an excerpt:

“Clay Ferrell, a former Ventura County resident who ran a thrift store for several years in Arizona, admitted to doing “well financially.” Ferrell says, “I made good money when I had that thrift store. My wife and I ran this back in the early ’80s and took home about $55,000 a year — after taxes, and that was pretty good money back then.”

Just to clarify, we’re not putting non-profit thrift stores down, actually, not at all! Without them a lot of things would end up in the landfill and a lot of charities would go unfunded. We’re just pointing this out to shed some light on why there are NOT A LOT OF CONSIGNMENT stores! And….to point out why it would be very,very,very, very, appealing to become a thrift store.

We know a lot of people would be very sad to lose a consignment service. The sad reality is, however, the cost to sell something is starting to outweigh any profit,  unless that “something” is free! Even then, it is a close call because charities (non-profit thrift stores) still have bills to pay!

Thrift stores help people in need when they need stuff, allowing people to purchase cheaper items. Consignment stores help people in need by creating a little extra money in their consignor’s pockets (and often consignment stores donate to charity on top of that)!

So maybe we will be a Part Thrift, Part Consignment store, where the “thrift department” will support the “consignment department”. The best of both worlds!

We are already doing this to a certain extent, by not consigning things under $14.00. Since these small items do not pay for themselves in the store, but they still need to “be gone”, let’s use them to raise funds to help pay for the cost of selling the more valuable items and keeping a consignment service available ! What do you think? Leave your ideas in the comments!

Bottom line, getting “too good to throw out stuff” out of our life is harder than it seems.

If you have the time, space to store (which could be costing you money if you have things in a storage unit, or even in your home), and the energy to find your own buyer, whether through a garage sale or Craigslist..etc…then try it that way first. BTW, Craigslist can be very frustrating with people not showing up etc… and potentially dangerous!

If you have run out of time, then you have to either donate it, or call someone (1-800-Got-Junk?) and PAY to have the items taken out of your life!

If any of you are in this dilemma and have this “good stuff”, consider using a middleman, or a consignment store, like Con$ign-iT!.

And if you don’t care, don’t want hassle, maybe the items do not have a lot of value, then just give them away to some lucky thrift store! Hmmmm…”Lucky Thrift Store!” Has a nice ring to it.

~ Andrea and Michelle

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One Response to “We are not a thrift store… yet.”

  1. Hi, I live in Poco and can’t believe I didn’t know about you! I found you by googling Fusion paint retailers. I’m hoping you’re still there…I’m coming by today. As an Interior Designer, I especially appreciate your article above – you are SPOT ON!! And I’m sorry to say to the buying public (because they are my customers too), you need an education people!!! Which is what you are providing by this article. I am sick of the sound of my own voice doing the same thing – people’s expectations, and sometimes general lack of knowledge of how this works is kind of appalling and makes business even harder than it already is. Sadly, however, people today want everything for cheap! Product, services etc etc, and yet, they want to be paid well themselves. Sorry if this is sounding like a rant, not intended, I just believe it’s largely the truth, with exceptions of course. Hope to see you today :)!

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