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How to Get a Job at a Thrift Store

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Thrift stores take in a lot of inventory, from clothes to knicknacks, dishes to furniture. When you want to get a job at a thrift store, you must indicate clearly that you welcome the challenge of working in a constantly changing retail environment. Organization is key when working in retail, but even more so when you must categorize secondhand furnishings by wear and tear. Thrift stores hire sales associates, stock personnel and cashiers, among other jobs, so you also need to have a work history that indicates some experience in these fields.

Call the local thrift store to ask about the application process. Some stores require you to fill out an application online and others want you to fill out the form in store.

Fill out the application, starting with your name, birth date, address and phone number. In the space for previous employment write down your work history, starting with the most recent job you held. Thrift stores sell a variety of products, but you need work experience in stocking, cashiering, retail, loss prevention or customer service to fill a role at a thrift store. Thrift stores also hire truck drivers for pickup and deliveries. Drivers need to be able to lift heavy loads and operate a large vehicle.

Apply as a volunteer. Some thrift stores are operated solely by volunteers. You can work in the donation center or as a personal shopper. You should indicate your preferences for collecting clothes or helping others pick out clothes on your application.

Go to the store during off-peak hours, usually around midafternoon or late morning. Ask to speak to the manager on duty. Give the manager your application and talk to him or her about applying for a job as a stock person or cashier at the thrift store.

Wait for a callback for an interview. If the thrift store fails to contact you within three days, go in for a followup on the application or give the store a call to inquire about your status. Ask to speak to the manager in both instances.

Arrive at your interview well-dressed. You want to wear slacks and a collared shirt to an interview. In general, your clothing needs to show that you are professional and responsible.

Talk up your strengths in the interview and answer all questions politely and effectively to score a position at the thrift store. If the manager asks how much you can lift, he or she wants to know if you can work in stock and inventory, which requires lifting boxes and climbing ladders in some cases. If you worked in retail, talk about organization, creating visual displays for mannequins, racking and folding clothes and loss prevention, which is keeping an eye out for suspicious behavior around the store's products to protect against theft.

Use key phrases during the interview related to retail experience in thrift stores, such as floating between sales floor and backroom production, sorting and categorization of products, customer help and knowledge of store operations.

Speak up in a group interview to every question that the interviewer asks. Stand out by drawing upon experiences in your work history that show you know how to take directions and keep a store clean. If applying for a cashier job, indicate your experience with cash handling and customer service in a retail environment.

Wait for a callback after the interview if not hired on the spot. Thrift stores may have to go through many applicants' interviews and applications, so wait a few days before calling to check up on the position.


C.K. Adams has worked in the newspaper and publishing field since 2003. Specializing in literature, education, crafts and science, she contributes to the University of Florida's fiction collective and "Tea Magazine." Adams earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida.

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