How to Price Thrift Store Items

(Last Updated On: 07/20/2022)

Written by POS Expert Martin Nikolaev

thrift store clothing on rackStarting a thrift store requires a lot of planning, action, and physical assets, such as a modern thrift store POS system. However, there are multiple aspects of this business that need taking care of in advance, such as having an adequate pricing system. If you’re interested in learning how to price thrift store items, then the text below will serve you well. 

People have loved finding treasures for centuries, and they still do today. Still, their preferred treasure hunting routes are different from before and include frequent visits to yard sales and thrift shops. They hope to get their hands on something cheap, but valuable to them. To respond to such a search, you need to know how to price thrift store items. You also need a state-of-the-art thrift store POS solution to provide your clients with a seamless checkout process and more personalized service than they expected.

If you know how to source goods for your thrift shop, you are already a step ahead of the competition. Knowing how to price the goods is another important aspect that will keep you afloat for a long time. An important rule to stick to is to sell valuable items at a low price. Not compromising your profit and still providing a great price/value ratio to shoppers is your ultimate goal.

Of course, selling quality goods at the lowest price rates is not the solution. Again, it is the ratio that matters. This is where it gets tricky, and we’ll share the basics of how to price thrift store items, alongside valuable advice to help you run your thrift shop the right way.

What’s Setting a Thrift Store Price All About?

Any long-term storage unit hunter or thrift store owner would tell you that there are rules to follow when you run such a shop. The most important one is to make money by always putting a triple store price, compared to the price you paid for the item. This move will allow you to have meat on the bone to cover your expenses and make a profit even after price negotiations. 

You will not be able to sell every item you acquire for your thrift store’s inventory at triple or even double the price. Finding such goods is one of your primary goals. This requires experience and a keen eye for valuable stuff, but you can always rely on a quick internet search to determine the possible profit of anything you find. In general, the rarer and more unusual the item is, the better the deal you’d make.

As already mentioned, getting a good deal on something they like is your shoppers’ main goal when they visit your thrift store. They would expect a competitive price on an item they would find hard to obtain from a store next door, for example. If you have a cheap source of merchandise, you can establish a price policy that’s oriented toward low-end prices with the purpose of selling everything fast. Selling higher volumes at a lower profit can still put money in the bank, but it is not the way to make the highest profits.

One way to establish an accurate price policy is to create a guide for your employees to follow. This will allow you to separate the inventory you have in groups, resulting in consistent pricing models. It is an important step to make, because your regular shoppers would appreciate it instead of witnessing similar items priced differently every other month. To make them feel even better about returning to your shop (or other locations you may have), you need to opt for the most appropriate thrift store POS system. It will allow you to track your inventory across all retail spaces you have and it will help you monitor the consistency of prices, too.

You must be careful not to overprice some of the goods. If you notice some items are sitting on the shelves for too long, consider offering discounts and launching campaigns. Again, a proper thrift store POS system will help you organize loyalty programs and allow you to offer your clients special prices for certain items, based on their shopping history. This is how you will get rid of excess stock quantities and renew your inventory.

How to Price Thrift Store Items the Right Way

pricing thrift store itemsPricing items for your thrift shop should be oriented toward the best price (the highest one) a client would pay for a particular object. It is easier said than done, as it requires skills, experience, and, most important of all, understanding your customers’ needs, preferences, and requirements. It all comes down to having a balanced price that will attract buyers and bring you a good profit. 

One way to determine prices in your thrift shop is to set a price on a group of items that fall into a similar category. This will allow you to organize the pricing process easier, but it could also result in a loss, as a certain item may be worth more than the asking price.

Avoiding cheap items piling up is a good way to have an attractive price policy, as you would offer reasonable prices for higher quality goods. When you see how certain goods perform, you will be able to pick your inventory better.

Pricing items individually according to their brand, condition, and quality is the better route to follow, but it is a more painstaking process. It’s worth it, though, as buyers will be able to appreciate the effort and tell the difference in quality relying on the prices you determined. Plus, it will likely increase your profits by providing goods for the different budgets of your clients. This requires the presence of an appropriate thrift store POS system and having the best employees. There is no other way for you to achieve the best price levels and provide shoppers with the ultimate customer experience.

Does the Condition of the Thrift Store Items Matter?

In short: yes, it matters a lot. Even if you have the option to buy an item for your thrift shop’s inventory, you would find it tricky to price accordingly, as its condition may be different from similar items. This means that their prices cannot be the best reference. There is a solution: grading the condition of each curious unit you intend to sell in your store. Determining its condition will result in setting the best price for the item.

There are several grade levels, ranging from mint to poor. What matters the most is that all items need to be usable and presentable enough. Antiques and collectibles may be an exception here. As long as you grade all items in a fair way, you will be able to price them correctly, and your clients will also notice this. When you’re selling items both online and offline, an honest description is a must. By the way, such multichannel businesses would require a modern, cloud-based thrift store POS system that will let you manage your inventory across multiple sales channels. 

Some of the rare and more valuable finds you need to price will be hard to compare, as there might be no other product to take as a reference. In this case, the most important aspect of the process is to not underprice the unit. This is when it pays off to consult with a specialist and have the item priced by a professional. There are usually lots of indications on older objects that would reveal their true value. 

The best advice to take would be to not feel intimidated when you need to price items. Determining the best price requires experience, but it is also a matter of gut feeling. As you sell more items, your confidence will grow and your inventory would gradually become more adequate. 

What are the Best Items for High Profit?

There are always items that will bring you higher profits and make your inventory a guaranteed source of income. Let’s take a look at some of them. 

  • vintage booksVintage books and regular book collections: While not every book is valuable, there are book collections and lots that can sell fast and for a great price. You must also think about including textbooks in your inventory, as those are always in demand. Here is a tip: having the best thrift store POS system will help you manage the variety of books you constantly upgrade your stock quantity with.
  • Pictures, paintings, and frames: Art always plays a role in every thrift store’s inventory, and vintage frames are part of it. The demand for such products is usually high. Older paintings are also a typical part of the inventory of any thrift shop.
  • Games: Regardless if we’re talking about video games, board games, or toys, you will be in the money if you manage to source the right items to sell in your store. The latest video games and old-school arcade titles are always desirable. 
  • Branded items: When it comes to gadgets and clothing, brands are everything. Shoppers usually look for branded goods priced low. You need to provide a constant supply of such products to guarantee your clients will have the variety they expect to see. Branded goods are usually easier to price.
  • Specialized equipment: Buyers often look for thrift store gems they could use for their hobbies, such as equipment and tools. 
  • Memorabilia and collectibles: Needless to say, items like records, coin collections, stamps, sculptures, and other collectibles are highly valued by collectors. Thrift stores are a source of such objects. Having them as part of your inventory is a must.

Tips on Thrift Store Item Pricing

The more items you sell at your thrift store, the more you will be able to make a finer selection and have the most appropriate prices. Once you get there, you will know how to recognize merchandise that can bring you profit. It may be in need of repairs, restoration, cleaning, or updates, but it would still make you money. Let’s take a look at some tips that will help you price your thrift store items better.

  • Never miss the chance to compare prices before buying: Following your intuition is admirable, but you should calculate your potential profit by comparing the possible price of the item you intend to buy with the asking price for similar objects, both online and offline. 
  • Make sure what you buy is legit: Even if you are certain that what you are about to buy a valuable one-off item, you need to have it checked, as there are always replicas that are worth a lot less. 
  • Have a variety of suppliers: To have the best possible inventory, you need to have the right supply chains. When you work with a list of trusted suppliers, chances are, you’ll be able to offer a tempting variety of goods to your clients.
  • Consider shipping and packaging costs: If you prefer shopping online, then you should calculate all the shipping and packaging expenses you will have to pay. Depending on the sender’s location, the price may be too steep, leaving you no room for profit.
  • Choose a fitting thrift store POS system: Modern point-of-sale solutions can handle inventory management and updates, meaning that it would help you manage your stock quantities and update the information related to it after each sale. It will also help you analyze the best-selling items and manage your whole operation with ease.

What Do Customers Expect From Your Thrift Store?

It has already become apparent that you need to have your prices on point and you also have to choose the best thrift store POS system to help you manage your operation. But your clients would surely expect several things when they visit your location. Let’s take a look.

  • thrift store employeesGreat variety: Shoppers will always expect to be surprised and even amazed by the things they find at your thrift shop. This would be the result of your hard work, of course. Being able to provide an inventory that would intrigue your clients is a must if you want them to make a purchase and come back for another one. Thrift stores rely on retainer clients, meaning that you would need to do everything you can to make them feel good when shopping and provoke their curiosity with the right inventory. Adding a fitting thrift store POS system will allow you to provide your clients with a seamless checkout process and help you understand them better.
  • Trained employees: Having the right staff members is a blessing, but you need to work hard for it. Apart from being friendly and helpful, your employees must also recognize your clients’ tastes and preferences so they could offer them better deals. This increases customer satisfaction and your profits as well. Knowing how to interact with shoppers properly is the key here. There should be a balance between being friendly and overdoing it. 
  • Store setup: One of the crucial aspects of the success of your thrift shop is its setup, starting with the layout. It must be spacious enough to avoid overcrowding and allow customers to take their time and explore every corner of it. You also need to make sure the whole store area is spotless. Many people still believe that thrift stores are dusty old places that look like they’ve been abandoned. In reality, thrift shops are similar to most retail spaces you could think of. The easier you make it for customers to roam around the store, the better for you, as they would never miss on something they might be interested in buying. 

When it comes to running a thrift store, no additional effort is in vain. Your profit will always be in direct correlation with the inventory you have and the high level of service you provide your clients with. 

Benefits of Using a Thrift Store POS System

There are similarities between retail businesses and thrift stores, but the latter have differences that make this niche unique in more ways than one. The variable inventory and unusual supply chains sometimes used are among those differences. All of them combined would make it harder to run when compared to the typical retail space. This is where thrift store POS systems come in handy. There is no doubt that having software capable of helping you organize your excessively random inventory is more than welcome. A thrift store POS system is exactly that. It’s not only capable of accepting payments, but it’s also able to help you monitor and track sales, inventory, schedules, and employee performance. This is a must-have set of tools if you want to lower your costs and maximize your profits.

thrift store POS systemThere are lots of ways to attract customers to your thrift store, and promotions and discounts are among them. Having priced everything in the best possible way doesn’t mean that’s enough effort in terms of pricing. You need to be flexible enough to offer discounts and promotions, why not even loyalty programs. Due to the nature of thrift stores, organizing discounts can be a challenge. Thankfully, a proper thrift store POS system will easily handle all types of discounts depending on aspects, such as membership card priorities, for example.

Due to the nature of a thrift shop’s inventory, every item in it would need an individual tag, barcode, or QR code. Again, your thrift store POS system is capable of quickly organizing the inventory and updating it after you make a sale.

If you have more than one location or an additional online store, the best thrift store POS system will help you keep pricing consistent across all your sales channels.

A lot of thrift store businesses rely on donations, especially if they’re part of a foundation or a nonprofit. This requires advanced inventory management software. Luckily, modern thrift store POS solutions are exactly that. These systems can automate the donation process and allow you to add every single item with greater ease compared to doing it manually. The software will also help your employees with generating and printing price tags.

Having the right thrift store POS system by your side will also result in reducing manual labor a lot, as well as making mistakes. But this is not the most important benefit of using such a system. This type of software will help you maintain a clean inventory with no hard-to-sell items clogging your storage area. This is possible thanks to the analysis the software is capable of, based on collected sales data. Such history reports will reveal the preferred items, the bestsellers, and your clients’ preferences.

The Conclusion

Thrift stores have been around forever, and there is no sign of them ever going out of fashion. They have come a long way, too, and it shows. These establishments now benefit from all kinds of technological advancements. The most significant among them is the specific thrift store POS: a system that’s capable of helping you run your thrift shop better and easier, resulting in higher profits and lower costs.

The important part of running a thrift shop comes down to good inventory, quality goods, better-than-average condition of most of your stock, and great customer experience. You will manage to retain more clients by introducing a strong, fair pricing model that will help them see the great price/value ratio you have created.

Providing the best customer experience to shoppers in your thrift store would be impossible without a fitting point-of-sale solution. It will help you plan ahead with greater accuracy and avoid having the wrong items in your inventory.


Does the quality of goods in a thrift store matter?

Except for antiques and certain collectibles, the quality of the items in your store should be excellent or even mint. Your clients would be looking for good condition and low prices.

How can a thrift store POS system help you run such a business better?

A thrift store POS solution will allow you to manage your inventory from the moment you add items to it to the point when it’s sold. Monitoring your inventory is a must if you’re running a thrift shop.

What do customers care about the most when they visit a thrift store?

The most important aspects of running a thrift store is having a great selection of items, competitive pricing, and a well-organized location.

What is the easiest way to price thrift store items?

When you need to set the price of an item you just added to your inventory, you should either compare it to similar items sold online or take it to a specialist.


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