US Thrift Store Comparisons Non-Profit vs Profit
June 5, 2019
America's Thrift Store a FOR Profit Thrift Store Comparisons

Non-Profit vs for profit Thrift Store Comparisons US Thrift Store Comparisons Non-Profit vs Profit

This list of Thrift Store Comparisons for the US might help answer some questions you have about where to shop second hand and why you would even want to shop a thrift store.

We'll take a look at the top non-profit vs profit chain thrift stores in the nation:

  • Goodwill: Non Profit
  • Salvation Army: Non- Profit
  • Deseret Industries: Non-Profit
  • ReStore: Non-Profit
  • St. Vincent de Paul: Non-Profit
  • Savers/Value Village: For Profit
  • Red White and Blue: For Profit
  • America's Thrift Store: For Profit

Plus a few other second hand ideas…

What is the point of Thrift Stores

Thrift Stores offer a second life to furniture, housewares, toys, and clothing. If an item is in decent condition, donating it to a thrift store is a much better way to dispose of it than sending it to the landfill. Unless it contains hazardous materials, like old television sets, then it becomes a burden for the business to pay the disposal fee and cuts into the funds available for charity work. Please we wise with your donations and don't send garbage.

Is a Thrift Store Considered Retail

Because these establishments are selling goods Thrift Stores do fall under the retail store category. However, if we are specific, they would be placed in the sub-category of second-hand retail.

Do Thrift Stores Make Money

Thrift Stores DO make money because they are a retail business. Many of them are run by non-profit organizations and use the profits to fund different social or educational projects. Some however are for profit and we'll discuss the differences now below:


Non-Profit Owned Thrift Store Comparisons

Goodwill Thrift Store

Founded in 1902 by Methodist Minister Rev. Edgar J. Helms, Goodwill is “industrial program as well as a social service enterprise…a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability, and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted.” The retail stores employ thousands are used for on the job training to give a “hand up, not a hand out”. Then profits are used for the career center for additional training, resume writing, interview coaching, and professional clothing.

Salvation Army Thrift Store

The Salvation Army is a Christian organization that started in 1865 with ministering to the poor and destitute on the streets of England. It has since expanded across the world and provides services in more than 130 countries. Profits from their store sales are used for programs created to meet the needs of each specific community. Different programs provide meals, have shelters, assist the unemployed, and fight human trafficking among others. The largest of the national stores you can find a store or donation truck in nearly every major city.

Desert Industries Thrift Store

Deseret Industries a non-Profit Thrift Store Comparisons

Deseret Industries is a non-profit retail store for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints established in 1938 in the Intermountain West. It was created to compliment the church welfare programs by providing job training and vocational training for individuals lacking job skills, with learning or developmental disabilities. Deseret Industries provides technical training through a manufacturing branch that creates new items like mattresses at low prices that can't be sold second hand. As well as on the job training in the retail stores. They also partner with tech programs at local colleges for additional education and local businesses for internship opportunities.

ReStore by Habitat for Humanity

ReStore a non-Profit Thrift Store Comparisons

ReStore is a national home improvement thrift shop chain accepting donations of used appliances, furniture, left over building materials, and salvaged goods from demolition projects. Profits from the sales of goods go towards Habitat for Humanity building projects in the local community and support their larger mission of providing “decent shelter to everyone around the world.” Click here to find a ReStore near you.

Take extra care when ripping out that kitchen and bathroom and donate your old cabinets and vanities, sinks, and toilets. Give someone else a chance to enjoy them for another 20 years! This is the perfect place to shop for a DIY'er, when you don't need everything to match, or are going for an eclectic look. Mixing materials, patterns, and colors of tile, chairs, or dishes creates a one of a kind look perfect for a studio, rental house (think Airbnb), office, or restaurant.

For Profit Thrift Store Comparisons

Savers/Value Village

Savers a FOR Profit Thrift Store Comparisons

Savers and Value Village are managed by the same company. They are for profit second hand stores that partner with different nonprofits in each community. Our local store donates to the Big Brother Big Sisters of Utah. But they have gotten in trouble in the past for touting tenuous nonprofit ties a little too forcefully. As a for profit company they aren't required to give back, but when you SAY you're donating to a particular organization, you'd better be doing it!

They have since restructured and donated large sums to their partner charities and are back on the right track. Some people hold a grudge and are still distrustful, but I say if they are headed in the right direction I'm willing to support their efforts. Savers has a great clothing selection and I always find like new stuffed animals and costume pieces.

Red White and Blue

Red White and Blue a FOR Profit Thrift Store Comparisons

My favorite store as a young girl! Red White and Blue Thrift Stores have 21 locations nation wide, located on each coast and Colorado. The sales in this store are phenomenal! It's been many years but we could purchase a bag grocery bag of items for just $1! I'm sure it's increased since then but the 50% off daily tags make the already low prices a downright steal.

But take cash because they don't accept cards, which is a slight inconvenience but helps keep prices down. They are great for vintage fashion, but not so great with larger furniture items in my experience.

America's Thrift Store

America's Thrift Store a FOR Profit Thrift Store Comparisons

I don't have any personal experience with America's Thrift Store but have heard good things about it. With 17 stores in the South East they've got tons of donations display every day. The selection is huge and they boast some pretty good stuff. They have a goal to donate $100 million in a 10 year span. They say they aren't there yet but are working hard to reach that goal.

Non-Chain Thrift Stores

There are SO many other churches, charitable organizations, and businesses that have a store or two or maybe even 3. Take a look around your community to find great options you may have never considered.  Then follow the steps below for the BEST thrift shopping experience!

What are Good Thrift Stores

Stuffed animals arranged in rainbow order at Deseret Industries non-Profit Thrift Store

I'm sold with the color coded merchandising! Thrift stores aren't always organized and clean but these larger chains do a pretty good job at keeping it up for a more pleasant shopping experience.

Now you may have differing opinions about what makes a great thrift shop, but I LOVE small town stores as they tend to have more unique items and aren't already picked over. They also have lower prices as the demand isn't as high as most big city locations. But any store can receive a great donation, you just need to be there when it gets put out on the floor. These larger stores have great options but so do many smaller local stores as well.

The Best Thrift Store Shopping Tips:

  • Know which day of the week they restock each department, and get there early
  • Stop in often mid-week and do a quick run through for anything new
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of different brands. According to The Krazy Coupon Lady Savers is great for clothing, Goodwill is better for furniture, and Salvation Army is best for kids toys and books. I agree with her assessment and want to add DI as a great place for business clothing and housewares.
  • Wear fitted clothing to try things on over the top. You may or may not have a dressing room.
  • Always try out electronics before the purchase. Don't waste your money on items that don't work.
  • Treat it like a treasure hunt. You will have to sift through to find the “diamond in the rough”. But your efforts are usually rewarded!

Why is Thrift Shopping Good for the Environment

Table set with dishes at ReStore non-profit thrift store

How is a thrift store good for mother earth? It keeps all this stuff out of the land fills. In our disposable society we trash things instead of trying to fix them. Next time you're about to toss something out, think about whether someone else might be able to use it. Can a furniture piece be refinished? Could that broken electronic be used for parts? Might your great Aunt's velvet painting be the springboard to an amazing new work of art? You've heard that one person's trash is another person's treasure right? I find all sorts of party decor at thrift stores from tea sets and stuffed animals to party dresses and picture frames.

I mentioned the garbage issue perviously and even when donations can't be sold in the store many businesses are finding a way to recycle the goods. Bales of denim can be sold and shredded for insulation. Metals, plastics, and glass can be recycled. We should be doing this work at home instead of them, but I'm grateful they are willing to take on the extra burden.

Is it Bad to Shop at Thrift Stores

Can saving money be bad? Does “thrifting” take goods away from the less fortunate? Sometimes, that might be the case. But items although reduced in price are still often too high for the poverty stricken. The potential good comes from what the thrift store does with the money we spend. Are they investing in schools, job training, housing, or a host of other wonderful causes? You may choose to only shop at certain non-profit stores who support causes you believe in.

Most everyone can stand to spend a little less and be smarter with their finances. Second hand shopping is a great way to do that while still enjoying items that are “new to you”. There are definite arguments that could be made against those with means shopping thrift stores. But I grew up with a tight budget and thrift shopping was my only shopping. It taught me to be smart. To make good decisions and create outfits so I never purchased an item I didn't wear. I owe my whole fashion sense to those years of thrift shopping with my mother and wholeheartedly support what the best organizations are trying to accomplish.

Can You Sell Your Clothes at a Thrift Store

The short answer is usually no. Most thrift stores rely on donations for their business model, which is why the charitable giving is appropriate even at a for profit company. With zero product expenses there's extra cash to be made and people to be helped through the generosity of others. This issue is at the heart of some of the bad press thrift stores have received over the years. There's lots of money to be made selling second hand items and the public expects thrift stores to be doing something good with their revenue.

Long answer, after all that, there are some resale stores that call themselves thrift shops that might pay you for your items but it's not as common. If you aren't sure, ask.

What is the Difference Between Consignment and Thrift

If you are looking to make money from your extra goods it's a good idea to check into consignment and resale shops in your area. We've talked all about what thrift stores are and what they are about. Consignment stores allow you to display your items and IF they sell they keep roughly 50% of the sale. If they do not sell your item within a certain timeframe, it is still yours. You must then decide whether to reduce the price, take it back, or donate it.

There are other types of resale shops, sometimes called exchanges, that will pay you outright for your goods. Nicer shops are selective and only take items with a certain brand name or style. Others will pay you by the article and some a lump sum per pound. SO if you're looking to make a little extra cash from your used clothing it doesn't hurt to check out resale shops in your area. A list of my favorite shops is coming a little later this summer.

Sustainable Party Ideas

I hope this list of Thrift Store Comparisons has helped you feel more comfortable with the idea of buying second hand goods. Give your items a second life by donating them to a local thrift store near you. Then pop on in and see if there's anything you need for a great price! Give it a chance to be the life of your next party for a more sustainable event. We'll be giving more ideas on how to make your party more sustainable but until then this is a GREAT place to start!

Until next time,


  1. JD Thomas

    Is there anyway (FOIA) that one can inquire to find out which organizations benefit from thrift store enterprises be they profit or non-profit? Many of these thrift stores electively choose to keep this secret. Why? It seems they’d be judged either way. I get that, but why not encourage benefiting various groups and organizations? Seems to me their benevolence would reflect positively on the public relations aspects.

    • Brianna Adams

      I think most of the non-profit organizations are pretty up front about what their profits are funding. It’s the for profit companies that try to seem like non-profits that seem a little shady to me. But even then, they are providing a valuable service so I won’t complain. I choosey with whom I donate to but I shop all of them.

  2. TheBigSavers

    Overall, it appears that between 8 percent and 17 percent of the firm’s revenue ends up with charities. Meanwhile, Savers does not routinely tell donors how much of their used-goods donation actually goes to charity.

    • Brianna Adams

      They’ve gotten in trouble for not being transparent in the past. I think they are trying to do better, but I feel like saying they give to charity is just a marketing ploy. As you mentioned, some of their revenue does get to charities now and I’m sure they’re doing a little better now that they got caught. If it truly is 17% that’s not too bad.

  3. DazzDeals

    I am really happy to say that it was a very interesting tips post. I learned new information from your post, you are doing great.

  4. Elisha Simon

    I’m on a board where we operate a nonprofit thrift store and the proceeds go to fund a free medical and dental clinic. What percentage of sales should be paid in wages? I think our wages are too high compared to our sales. I didn’t know if there was a rule of thumb.

    • Dennis

      Federal law states that no wages can be below minimum wage, even if you are a charity. And if you expect employees to accept less than the prevailing wage, are you not taking advantage of them? That doesn’t sound very charitable.

      • Brianna Adams

        I agree that paid employees should absolutely be making minimum wage. However, many of the non-profit organizations have volunteer service workers that do not want or expect to be paid.

        I do not work for any of these organizations, I’m just reporting on their status of for profit and non-profit for the benefit of my readers but I hope that all of them are treating their people well.

  5. Sanya foster

    I am trying to start a non profit thrift store and want to know..can a non profit have some items on consignment and/or can they buy items from people instead of straight donations..maybe the store will receive better quality of some items?..

    • Brianna Adams

      You can do consignment but it doesn’t make sense for you to purchase items as your profit should be going to pay for employees and supporting your mission. But I like where you are going with your thinking. If you get started and make sure that all of your marketing says you want items in great condition and you appeal to higher end neighborhoods or something you will end up with better items. Sadly many people use thrift stores and a dumping ground for a lot of garbage.

      • Kaky

        I’m interested in starting a small Non profit thrift store/possibly consignment store within my small rural area.

        What are the minimum requirements to open a non profit thrift store?

        Could you tell me top 10 imp responsibilities to start/open up an thrift store?

        What’s the best way of advertising “a new nonprofit thrift store?

        Appreciate any advice or suggestions. Thank you very much.

        • Brianna Adams

          I wish I had more insight for you but I’m just a big fan of thrifting. Good luck with your venture.

  6. SugarPartiesLA

    I love thrift shopping ! I’ve always found fun items that I use for parties or props. You shared some great information Bri !


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Gingerbread houses in a row as table runner centerpiece for a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party I’m Bri of Parties With A Cause. I’m a mother to three crazy awesome kids, interior designer, & party planning junky. I love reading, globe trotting, and frozen yogurt. And I’m elevating the party experience one cause at a time! Read More

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