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Start-up Business Ideas: Second Hand Merchandise Shop

written by: N Nayab•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 8/25/2011

A thrift store dealing in second hand goods is a time tested business opportunity. With people trying to reduce spending owing to inflationary pressures and an uncertain economic outlook, such shops find good patronage. Read on for five attractive second hand store business ideas

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    1. Clothing

    Vanity Clothing Store Wikimedia Commons People seeking new small business ideas would do well to consider the second hand clothing business. Clothing being a basic requirement, demand always exists for most types of clothes. The prospect of a second hand store offering discounted apparel is brighter than ever before in troubled economic times. When people lose their jobs and cannot afford new clothes, they look for economic solutions. A second hand clothing store also positions itself to deal in fashionable used clothes aimed at providing a low-cost option to the fashion conscious niche.

    The best sales outlet for the second hand clothing business is a specialized retail store. A dedicated retail store, however, requires heavy investment, full-time commitment, and good sales volumes to remain profitable. Less-demanding sales alternatives include flea-market booths, home parties, yard sales, other thrift stores, door-to-door commission sales, and website sales. All of these avenues are also good sources to collect or invest in second hand clothing for your inventory needs.

    The success of a second hand clothing thrift store depends mostly upon pricing. Clothing is a highly price sensitive business and the same holds true for second hand clothing. Set your prices based on the quality and selection and consider lower pricing for dead stock that may soon go out of fashion.

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    2. Books

    Nuvola apps bookcase by Peter Kemp Wikimedia Commons One of the most common second hand store business ideas is a bookstore. People who buy books and are not collectors finish reading them and have no further use for the books. For this reason alone, most people prefer purchasing second hand books in the first place. Trade-in second hand bookstores are a thriving enterprise, especially when the same book can be bought and sold several times. Most second hand bookstore owners need not go out in search of books as customers tend to bring their books to thrift stores in the first place. In addition to starting a bookstore business, you can also sell books at thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, exhibitions, and the Internet.

    Selecting a niche such as paperback novels, technical books, children's books, and the like is a good way to attract second hand book buyers and sellers to the store and stay ahead of competition.

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    3. Furniture

    milk crates A second hand furniture shop ranks among the most popular thrift shop ideas as the business is easy to set-up and requires little to no startup expenses.

    As furniture wears out with age or out lives its utility, people will discard used or outdated furniture. Whatever the reason, such discarded furniture makes an attractive business proposition for a second hand thrift store. The second hand furniture entrepreneur will need to make necessary repairs, polish and upholster the old furniture, and can often sell the furniture at a mark up of more than 100 percent. Good sources to find second hand furniture include auctions and garage sales, classified ads, and estate sales.

    The major requirements to start a second hand furniture thrift shop include a space to store and repair the furniture, a utility truck to transport the sourced furniture, and a retail outlet to display the used furniture. The major challenge lies in understanding the types of furniture in demand and assessing the extent of repairs needed before resale.

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    4. Mobile Phones

    Cell Phone Wikimedia Commons Mobile Phones are both a necessity and a luxury. People who consider mobiles phones as a luxury change their phones whenever a new model hits the market and tend to dispose off their old mobile phones. Those who consider mobiles phones a necessity but don't have the money to buy a new one or want to flaunt a new mobile phone, frequently buy new models and are the major buyers of second hand mobile phones.

    The major challenge for the second hand mobile phone entrepreneur lies in finding second hand mobile phones to sell. Apart from various advertising options, one good option is to hook up with stores selling new models. Most people opt to exchange their old phone upon making a new purchase and the second hand mobile entrepreneur could pick up such exchanged phones at discount prices. Another key challenge lies in determining whether the second hand mobile being purchased for resale is in good working condition, and the extent of repairs required, if any.

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    5. Home Appliances

    Home Appliances A major market for second hand goods exists in most home appliances ranging from microwave ovens to refrigerators to air conditioners to toasters. Sellers include people who relocate or people who are upgrading their home appliances. Buyers include people who obviously cannot afford the new items.

    The entrepreneur dealing in second hand appliances would invariably have to do some repair work, cleaning, and servicing of the appliance before offering it for resale. A major factor that determines the pricing of electrical home appliance is the energy efficiency of the second hand appliance.

    Classified advertisements and garage sales are two major sources of procuring second hand appliances, as well as ways to resell these goods.

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    Wrap Up

    Regardless of the second hand business chosen, a basic understanding of how to run a retail store becomes essential for success along with an understanding of what items sell and what does not sell. The second hand store entrepreneur buying second hand books from authors not in demand or clothes that are out of fashion would end up with a lot of dead stock and tie up invested capital on such purchases. The entrepreneur also requires a basic knowledge on how to repair and resell second hand goods in an attractive way.

    Most second hand store business ideas invariably begin as a small business, especially during the start-up phase. A basic understanding of how to operate a small business helps and a once small second hand business can turn into a larger and more profitable business.