How To Increase Donations and Improve Your Thrift Store

Thrift and secondhand stores are quickly becoming a massive nationwide industry. According to the U.S. Census, there are more than 25,000 thrift stores across the country today. Thrift stores are an important part of local …


Thrift and secondhand stores are quickly becoming a massive nationwide industry. According to the U.S. Census, there are more than 25,000 thrift stores across the country today. Thrift stores are an important part of local communities, as they stop useful items from going to waste. The real measure of a thrift store, however, is its donations.

Increasing the number of donations your thrift store receives means you can be choosier about what goes in windows, on websites, and what makes it to the store floor at all. A steady flow of donations also keeps customers coming back to the store to make more purchases. Here are a few innovative ways to garner more donations and improve your thrift or second hand store.

Upgrade Your Point of Sale System First

Making the leap from an old-fashioned register to a digital point of sale system can drastically improve your store’s customer experience. However, most generic retail point of sale systems provide no benefits to people bringing donations to your thrift store.

That’s why a specialized thrift store POS system is a must to increase the quality and quantity of your store’s donated stock. Advanced systems allow for an in-store donation kiosk that can streamline the donation experience. Donation pick-up systems make it even easier for locals to donate to your thrift store. Cutting-edge software can also generate receipts and send thank you emails to donors, encouraging them to donate again. Most importantly, these systems optimize the donor’s experience as much as they improve a customer’s experience. Thrift and secondhand stores must actively cater to both of these groups to see success.

3 More Ways To Make Your Thrift Store Donor-Friendly

A solid software system can transform the experience of donating to your thrift store in one easy step. Here are three other ways to make your thrift store more appealing to donors.

1. Use a Separate Area of the Store for Donations

Setting up a separate donation counter or kiosk is an important first step to increasing donations. Marking this area with a sign makes it easy for people to donate.

Clear signage places donations in the back of customers’ minds, as well. Many people who shop in secondhand stores have old goods they no longer use.

A specific donor counter also saves donors the hassle of having to wait in a checkout line to donate goods. The faster and easier your in-store donation process is, the more likely donors will give to your thrift store again. With thrifting and the resale industry gaining steam, your store is competing with other stores within driving distance for donations.

2. Advertise to Donors

In a thrift or second hand store, quality merchandise is the most powerful form of advertising. Thrift shoppers frequently talk about which local store has the best items for sale. Money spent on donation bins, mobile donation pick-up vehicles and other donor-forward advertising is a must to garner word-of-mouth rapport in your community.

You can also advertise to donors digitally. Email or SMS thank-you notes can be a powerful tool for increasing donations. In general, you should always thank donors for their contribution to your business, no matter how small.

Email campaigns and newsletters can be effective advertising as well. Email frequent donors at times when they’re likely to have items to donate, such as spring cleaning season. If your thrift store supports a charity, be sure to inform donors of the important charity work they’re helping to support while getting rid of their unused items.

3. Build Relationships With Top Donors

Some donors’ lifestyles enable them to donate high-quality items reliably. A construction professional or event planner may be in a unique position to consistently supply your store with exciting new items. Build genuine relationships with frequent donors and let them know that their items are always welcome at your thrift store.

One easy and natural way to accomplish this is to let a donor know that a certain donation of excess stock or materials was particularly valuable. Keep compliments genuine to foster the best bond.

Donations are the lifeblood of any thrift or second hand store. Make sure you prioritize the donor experience as much as the customer experience, and you’ll soon see your donation yield increase.

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