How to start an online thrift store: The complete guide

online thrift store
(Last Updated On: May 17, 2023)

Imagine walking through a magical, unexplored treasure trove. You don’t know what you are going to find once you enter those doors but you are assured of some fun! This is what shopping from thrift stores feels like! To sell second-hand products online is like selling pre-loved items.

You could find a vintage corset or even high-end luxury items from brands like Jimmy Choo for less than half its original price! And no, you don’t have to be broke to thrift. Let’s change the stigma around it, shall we? 

In this blog, you will learn how to sell second-hand products online and build a profitable business out of it.

What is a thrift store?

Do you have an expensive dress that does not fit you? Do not throw it! Dry clean and sell it online, and you have your first ‘thrift’ item for sale. Simply put, thrift stores sell second-hand products or ‘pre-loved’ products – either online or physical stores. Thrift stores are appealing for many different reasons.

Some shoppers are drawn to the stores because of their low prices. Others simply enjoy browsing and discover new items. Thrift stores also provide an eco-friendly benefit, allowing shoppers to find new ways to use old items. 

Why Thrift?

What’s not to love about places where great and inexpensive fashion is easily accessible and is also entirely sustainable? They are homegrown, sustainable, and fashionable! Thrifting is here and it is here to stay! 

3 reasons why customers love thrift stores

1. It’s a steal

Let’s start with the most obvious one- Everything is ridiculously cheap! Ever look at the price tag on a pair of jeans and wonder why it would cost so much? Me too. It’s painful when you love something so much but can’t own it. Fortunately, a lot of these designer items can be found in thrift stores in near-perfect conditions for sometimes 10% of the original cost. 

2. It’s all unique

You’ll rarely find two of the same items in a thrift shop, which means you end up with a really unique collection. You can find real vintage and authentic designer items – you just got to dig a little! The best part is, no one else will have them.

LUSH merchandise – an online store on Instamojo, sells outfits and accessories that look as good as new. Just like any other eCommerce business, LUSH sells good quality second-hand clothes at a slightly higher markup.

sell second hand products online

3. It’s fun

Finding items on thrift feels like a quest. Isn’t it such a great feeling when you buy items for ₹700  that were originally ₹3,000? You can buy one-of-a-kind items to give your regular wardrobe a makeover, without burning a hole in your pocket.

So in all, online thrift stores have opened up new opportunities to customers and small business owners alike.

Without a doubt, thrift stores can make good money. But before you start thinking about the prospect of starting your online thrift store, let’s take a look at money matters of things.

How much does it cost to start an online thrift store?

Your common costs include:

  • Product Cost
  • Website
  • Delivery system
  • Working capital to fund the first few months of internet, utilities, etc.

So we aren’t looking at an expensive business to start. You can easily bootstrap this business with limited capital!

3 profitable thrift stores ideas 

The Association of Resale Professionals reported that clothing, cookbooks, furniture, jewellery, kitchen appliances, sporting goods, and vintage items are strong sellers for resale shops. A common thread to keep in mind is –

1. Trendy items 

The most popular thrift category right now – eras! Most thrift stores that never go out of style are clothing thrift stores. Many trends from the past come back again and become the trends of the present.

This is especially true with clothing. Take your 90s crop tops for instance – They are back in style and this time they are demanded by all! Thrift stores are an incredible place to sell trendy things as they are relatively cheaper here than at a mall.

2. Statement items – one of a kind 

Thrift stores are also a great place to sell unique statement pieces. Curate items from around the world, or from stores that you don’t necessarily have in your city. It can be a great accent piece for home decor or cool vintage items to make your collection stand out!

Mumbai thrifts, a premium online thrift store on Instamojo, sell limited items of high quality (second-hand items) to their customers.

sell second hand products online

3. Home decor

When it comes to home decor there are so many things that you can sell. Here are some common items I would recommend selling in a thrift store:

  • Lamps and chandeliers
  • Picture frames
  • Small tables
  • Glassware
  • Office supplies
  • Crating supplies
  • Serving trays and bowls
  • Wooden chairs
  • Wall hangings

Related read: What to sell online in India: Trending Lists 2023

How to sell second-hand items online and start a thrift store from home

Starting a thrift store doesn’t require a business degree, but certain skills and experiences can make things easier and more successful.

7 steps to starting a successful online thrift store:

1. Find your niche

You want your online thrift store to give a very unique experience. To do this, you need to offer a curated selection of items. Cut out the sifting stage and bring the products that your customers want. For example, women’s clothing would be a niche, and ‘Retro women’s clothing would be better still. 

The Vintage – a thrift store operating out of Instagram, sells only vintage, one-of-a-kind bohemian apparel wear. Their clothes are in high demand and sell REALLY quick.

thrift store india


Keep the word ‘curated’ front and centre in your mind, whenever you’re developing your thrift store. 

2. Create your brand

Now you have an idea of what second-hand products you want to sell, it’s time to put some thought into your brand. Think about your store vibe, aesthetic, and target audience.

Here are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself in order to establish this:

  1. Who is my target audience? Think gender, age, interests, and lifestyle. Who can you imagine loving your products?
  2. What’s my USP? What makes you stand out from other sellers?
  3. How will my target audience find my store?

Related read: A complete guide on creating your unique brand

3. Set up shop

Think about how you want to sell your products before you start buying them. When it comes to setting up your virtual shop, there are three different routes you can go down:

Use an eCommerce platform:

Ecommerce platforms are the easiest way for new sellers to sell online. You select and customise a template (no tech skills required). You can choose to set up an online store for free with Instamojo and upgrade to a brand new premium store once you are familiar with the eCommerce business.

Sell through social media:

Did you know that Instagram is the number one preferred channel by. Get more customers by setting up social media for your business.

Self-hosted platform:

You can also build your own website on platforms like WordPress. You have total ownership of and control over your website. However, You’ll need to pay for a domain name, web hosting, and security measures. You also need to know basic coding to make it work for you.

Pro tip: If you’re a new seller, we recommend you try out eCommerce platforms as they are super easy to use and set up. They’re convenient and relatively inexpensive

4. Source Products

Don’t invest too much money in your stock at first. Start off with a small collection, so you know what’s selling best for you before you buy more.

But before you go ahead and purchase it, run through the following quick checks:

  1. Look at the general condition
  2. Browse online prices
  3. Check labels and hallmarks
  4. Store your products

5. Managing Inventory

Creating a system for storing, tracking and shipping items is as important as making sales. To ease shipping woes and make business deliveries happen easier, we set up mojoXpress – guaranteed to reduce shipping time by half! You can schedule pickups, package tracking, calculate shipping costs, and more with mojoXpress. 

6. Pricing Your Products

When pricing your products, remember to factor in packaging, shipping, and even a portion of your fixed costs. If you’re selling something a little more unique, you can even take the pricing up a notch. You’ll have to keep your profit margins nominal while ensuring good quality products.

7. Create A Marketing Plan

When selling to a younger demographic, social media, and particularly Instagram, is probably the most powerful tool for online marketing. In the early days of your business, you’ll need to spend at least 70% of your time on marketing your products online. This will help people find you and grow your business.

Want to sell second-hand products online? 

An online store is essential for an eCommerce business. To sell second-hand products online easily, get your own eCommerce website.

Save your money, set up for free on Instamojo.

Yes, did you know you could set up your online store on Instamojo for free? No setup fee, no maintenance costs! Once you are ready, you can upgrade to our premium plan and enjoy multiple features to boost sales and grow your brand online.

Set it up and explore your brand new store right away! It’s the right time to start your online thrift store business. So, let’s get going!


Set up your online store

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.