Thrift Shops and Consignment stores can be an excellent source for your product inventory—they always have fresh items to pick thru and you can find some great deals!

• Consignment Stores, are commission-based. People bring in products for the store to sell on commission—what doesn’t sell is returned to the owner.

• Thrift Stores are often ‘not for profit’ and get most of their goods via donations.

In comparing the two, Thrift Stores are typically more willing (and able) to bargain with you simply because they have more room to do so.

Online retailers sometimes feel that these types of resale stores are not a good place to find inventory because there’s not enough of a profit margin. But Kate Holmes, Founder of “Too Good to be Threw” ( and author of Too Good to be Threw, The Complete Operations Manual, disagrees. Holmes asserts that these stores “have a very limited market. If there is nobody in their town that happens to want to buy a pair of Jodhpurs that week, those Jodhpurs will be sitting there waiting for an eBay seller…to snap them up.” The end result can be amazing deals on quality items there is a demand for online!

In addition to a limited market, Holmes also cites limited space as a factor in resale stores’ bargain pricing. She points out that “they only have so much space so they can only carry so many things. So if they can move it on and bring something else in they’re pleased with that.”

3 Rules of Sourcing Products in Thrift and Consignment Shops:

  1. Shop the Edges—Even resale stores tend to carry certain types of products. What doesn’t fit a shop’s profile, they usually want to move out quickly. They tend to put these products around the store’s edges, so start there.
  2. Shop Often—They are constantly turning over product and bringing in new items, so don’t let a dry trip or two discourage you. Your persistence can pay off in a big way.
  3. Cultivate Relationships with the Shopkeepers—If they like you, they’ll be much more willing to give you deals. They may also be more willing to set things aside for you if they know what you’re looking for and guide you to items you might have otherwise missed.

If you’re just starting out, a good place to find resale stores is in the Yellow Pages, under either “consignment” or “thrift.” Don’t be afraid to ask the shopkeepers if they know of other stores in the area—if they don’t have what you’re looking for, they’ll usually be happy to refer you to someone they think might.

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