Resale Shops vs. Thrift Shops: What’s the Difference?


In the secondhand apparel market, people everywhere turn to resale or thrift shops to find unique, affordable solutions. Still, these options are not one and the same.

For over 30 years, our five brands - Play It Again Sports®, Plato’s Closet®, Once Upon A Child®, Music Go Round® and Style Encore® - have been buying and selling quality used items. Ahead of National Thrift Shop Day on August 17th, we’re exploring what sets our resale stores apart.

Quality and Relevance

With thrift stores, people can donate items they don’t need anymore, and there is not much of a screening process. Most of these items - even outdated or substandard ones - may end up on the shelves. Because of this, it can be difficult to find more modern and like-new products when thrifting.

Other resale stores act as a “middle man,” allowing customers to maintain ownership of their items and use their network to list and sell them.

Meanwhile, our stores follow a meticulous evaluation process to carefully select the items we stock, offering high-quality products at affordable prices. Unlike thrift shops, we’re able to offer a larger variety of items, including the latest trends and gear as well as designer names.

More Money in Customers’ Pockets

Our stores are also different from thrift shops and other resale shops because rather than taking donations or acting as a platform for owners to sell items to other consumers, we buy products from customers that pass our screening process. This takes their unused items off their hands and allows them to get some money back immediately to use towards new items they find in our stores. In fact, each franchise location pays out $350,000+/year to its local community – reaching over $445 million in 2021.

While most thrift shops in the U.S. are non-profit, resale stores are a reliable investment and are resilient to economic uncertainty. In 2021, the top quartile representing all five of our resale stores had average sales of over $1 million.

Specialty Brands

Most thrift shops are general stores that carry everything from clothing to accessories and household items for people of all ages. Because we have specialty brands for children, teens, women, athletes and musicians, we’re also able to staff knowledgeable employees to help customers find exactly what they’re looking for.

Our specialty resale brands allow us to stock one-of-a-kind items in great condition that can be used for years to come. It also offers customers the option to sell and purchase new items as they outgrow them.

Opening A Resale Store

When you sign on to open a Winmark resale franchise, you’re investing in your community. With almost 1,300 stores and over 2,800 open territories in North America, our rapidly-expanding brand is always looking for passionate franchisees.

Our top-notch support in areas like operations, merchandising and marketing provides you with all the tools you need for success, so you can capitalize on the multi-billion dollar resale industry.

Looking to get started in the booming resale industry? Contact us today to learn more about opening a Winmark store in your area.


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