See These Tips For Starting a Used Clothing Business

Shirts handing on a rack in a store

How to Start a Used Clothing Business

One of the advantages of operating a used clothing business is relatively low startup costs.

You can easily purchase large, bulk stocks of clothing at online sites, yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets, and then sift through those collections to find the items that suit your customer base.

A traditional thrift store serves a purpose for the local community, offering decent merchandise to those with limited budgets.

Some shoppers love to search for bargains and vintage clothing in second-hand shops. For budget-conscious individuals, buying clothing second-hand may be a necessity. During any type of economy, a second-hand clothing business may do well, but it may really thrive during bad economic times.

Skill Set:

  • Retail sales skills
  • Spotting good deals at garage sales, flea markets, etc.
  • Identifying Fashion trends
  • Fashion Design is a plus
  • Clothing repair and cleaning
  • A good eye for color coordination
  • Good at matching clothing
  • Common Business Skills

Employee Considerations:

Common staff positions needed to run some businesses

Equipment and Supplies

  • Stain remover and other detergents
  • Tags for pricing
  • Hangers
  • Display Racks/ Display Shelves
  • Sewing machine for repairs
  • Price gun
  • Office Equipment

Monthly Expenses:

See our list of common business expenses


See Our Page on Licenses and Permits

Tips and Considerations:

  • You will find and repair clothing items that are fit for resale. If you have sewing skills, mending torn hems or ripped sleeves won’t take long at all. Your best finds will come from yard sales and thrift stores. Name brand pieces will sell for more than lesser-known brands, but all will sell and bring a profit to you.
  • Keep an ongoing inventory of what you have so that you know what sizes to look for when you shop for new merchandise. Launder all clothing before hanging it up for final sale. If special washing instructions are needed, include them with the article of clothing.
  • Carry a wide selection of clothing that sells well used. For example, children outgrow clothing fast. Some parents may be in the market for second-hand clothing. Maternity clothing is also a good item to carry. Since women only wear the clothes for a short time, they may want to look for alternatives to buying new clothes. Designer items may also be good sellers since their price tag is huge when new. Vintage clothing, which is hard to find elsewhere, maybe a specialty item that sells well in a used clothing shop.
  • Look at the condition of the clothing to determine the price. If the clothing looks new, you may be able to price it higher than well-worn merchandise. Also, consider the type and style of clothing for pricing ideas. For example, if the used clothing is a designer name, you may be able to price it higher than other items.
  • An owner of a used clothing retail business in a different city may be more than happy to give you a few tips, so long as your businesses are far enough apart that they won’t compete for customers. Some may not be so helpful; you may have to call ten business owners in order to find one who is willing to share their wisdom with you.

Pros and Cons:

The Pros:

  • You can be your own boss
  • Inventory costs are low
  • It can be very lucrative
  • It is a good business for a slow economy
  • It offers several niches such as vintage, and children’s clothing
  • Sales are relatively simple to make
  • High-profit margins are achievable

The Cons:

  • You may have to do a lot of mending and other sewing repairs.
  • A lot of laundering/cleaning/stain removal.
  • Pricing items can be a chore.
  • Good used clothing can be hard to find in bulk at a good price.

Type of Customers:

Low-income families, and bargain-hunters. This is why you will find the bulk of your customers online (such as eBay) and at flea markets or other venues where bargain-hunters shop.

How To Start Your Used Clothing Business

When you start a business you need to look into many issues, including; writing a business plan, getting a loan, choosing a business name, getting your tax ID, etc.

Rather than adding the steps in this post, I have included them in my post, The Essential Steps To Start a Business for all the information you need to start your business on the right track.