Purchasing liquidated merchandise on B-Stock can be a great way to keep a consistent flow of inventory and save money. To sell your inventory can be challenging, but this is where bin stores come in. In this article, we’ll explain what bin stores are and how they can help you sell your B-Stock inventory. By the end of this article, you will know:

  • What are bin stores?
  • How to start your own bin store
  • What are the costs of running a bin store?
  • How much money can you make running a bin store?
  • Tips for running a successful bin store

What are bin stores?

Bin stores, loosely known as discount stores or pound stores, are a type of brick-and-mortar location where large quantities of inventory are distributed in bins made for customers to dig through. These can be filled with anything – from electronics and gadgets to toys and home goods. Customers can find a variety of merchandise for extremely low prices. Think: finding a $30 phone case in a bin where the deal of the day is $3 for anything you can find. This type of treasure hunt is what bin store shoppers are after as their biggest priority is to save money. With inventory changing week-to-week, there is always a new deal to seek out.

For a bin store owner, keeping customers coming back for more means you must constantly be acquiring new inventory to refill the bins and offer sales on specific days of the week. Bin stores can help you sell your liquidation inventory–like from B-Stock–if you’re focused on volume over value. You read that right. If you want to deal in more select quantities, with higher profit margins, bin stores aren’t for you.


Quick FAQ: How can I source inventory for my bin store?

In-person: You can secure individual items at garage sales, thrift stores, and storage unit sales, but bear in mind that this will be more of a manual process.
Local wholesalers and traditional liquidators: This group tends to have contracts with distribution facilities, often buying truckloads at a time that can be broken down and sold off to smaller buyers, which is why it is known as sub-truckload buying. Going through a middleman, like a local wholesaler or liquidator will come with pallet markups. If you don’t have direct access to these facilities yourself, this is the most efficient way to get larger quantities of inventory.
Online: Buying groups on Facebook are a good way to get in touch with larger buyers who are willing to negotiate pricing with you on pallet purchases.
B-Stock: Registered businesses with a valid sales tax ID can purchase overstock and customer-returned inventory directly from retailers via auction and contract sales. By going through a retailer’s private marketplace, buyers have more control over their purchases thanks to flexible lot sizes, transparent pricing (without the markups), and more product types and conditions to choose from – without cherrypicking of inventory or individual negotiations. Transactions are secure and buyers have access to a dedicated customer support team.


Never fear! There is still a healthy business opportunity ahead of you if you’re looking for a fast-paced environment that will keep you on your toes for deals. And the best part is once you know how to open and run one bine store, you can open more!

How to start your own bin store

Location, start-up costs, and inventory sourcing are your biggest concerns. We’ll go over the step-by-step process of how to run, open, and fill up a bin store:

1. Choose the right bin store

The first step is to select the type and size of bin store that best suits your needs. Consider the size and shape of your inventory items, as well as the amount of space you have available in your warehouse. (We’ll talk more about those costs below.)

2. Set up the bin store

Once you’ve chosen your bin store, you’ll need to build or assemble your bins and arrange them according to the store layout best suited to your space. That could look like six rows with 10 bins, or even more per row depending on the bin’s size.

3. Start sourcing inventory

Bin store owners must be an expert in inventory sourcing. You can source locally, or online. But a direct connection to a big supplier is key. Online liquidation marketplaces are the most accessible–and often the most affordable if you’re utilizing an auction platform like B-Stock–in securing that steady stream of inventory. You can access excess inventory and returns from retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, The Home Depot, and so many more. We go over more tips for the type of inventory and quantities that you should be purchasing down below.

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4. Sort and organize your inventory

This is an optional step depending on how you want your bin store to function. If the goal is to create a treasure hunt for customers, then you won’t need to spend too much time on this step. You may consider separating rows by category: home goods in one row, toys in another, and so on. If you have a separate business for eBay selling, now is the time to set aside the items that aren’t going in the bins.

You may choose to have a retail section in-store. These bin stores will separate larger, more expensive items into separate sections. But again, this would be more of a liquidation store model, where you’d be looking to sell items for a discount, but significantly closer to MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price).

5. Fill up the bins

Once you’ve sorted your inventory–however little or much you like– begin filling up the bins. Start with larger or heavier items at the bottom of the bin and work your way up to smaller or lighter items–this keeps goods from getting damaged or crushed. But keep in mind that as customers start to pick through bins, this can cause things to shift.

6. Track and manage inventory

While bin stores don’t require you to keep any particular order to quantities and SKUs, it’s important to still track your inventory levels so you don’t run dry by Thursday and you have your biggest sale days on Saturday. Don’t rely on simply eyeballing this–you should be in a regular cadence of ordering inventory! There are more sophisticated tools that exist for tracking inventory levels like Shopify.


Quick FAQ: How can I ensure the merchandise I sell in my bin store is of high quality?

Nearly all B-Stock marketplaces follow the same uniform product and packaging conditions as most B-Stock marketplaces. This gives interested buyers peace of mind when bidding and securing inventory on B-Stock’s liquidation marketplaces. Here is an example of the inventory conditions you can choose from:

  • New Condition: Unsold merchandise with no signs of use.
  • Like New Condition: Unsold merchandise with minimal signs of handling.
  • Refurbished: Merchandise that has been repaired to full functionality but may have signs of wear or use unless otherwise specified.
  • Used – Good Condition: Merchandise with signs of use from handling and/or customer exposure that is sellable without repairs needed.
  • Used – Fair Condition: Merchandise with heavy signs of use from handling and/or customer exposure that is likely in need of repair prior to resale.
  • Salvage Condition: Merchandise requiring significant repairs prior to resale or else will be used for parts/components only.
  • Mixed Condition: Can include products of any quality, including salvage. There’s no guarantee of one particular product condition unless specified in the manifest or auction details.

Everything can go in a bin store if people can find value in it. And remember, every area has a different client mix that is going to want different things.


What are the costs of running a bin store?

There are various costs associated with running a bin store. Entrepreneurs should consider the following:

Real estate

The physical storefront that a bin store requires means you will need to budget for a monthly rent, or for your own real estate. Bin stores can be compact or spacious. Do you want to have space for storage and excess truckloads? 1,500 sqft on the more compact end and 5,000 sqft on the more spacious end. Location can also help keep your rent price point low enough so that you can profit from your bin store. Commercial space outside of the city center or in older plazas might be more cost-effective.

Insurance

Insuring your brick-and-mortar store is essential to protect your business from unexpected events and mitigate potential financial losses. A brick-and-mortar store faces many risks such as fire, theft, natural disasters, and accidents that could lead to property damage, inventory loss, and liability claims. In addition to financial protection, having insurance can also give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on running your business without worrying about the potential risks that could occur.

Utilities

Utilities are a necessary expense for running any brick-and-mortar business. As opposed to an e-commerce store that would require a simple internet connection, a physical bin store will need electricity, water, and likely waste management depending on the city/ county. Regionally, you will also want to consider when your utilities will be the highest. In the summertime, this will be the hottest time of year and likely run your AC bill higher.

Internet

The cost of internet service for a brick-and-mortar store can vary depending on several factors such as location, internet speed, and the service provider. However, on average, a basic internet service plan for a brick-and-mortar store can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 per month. Keep in mind these costs can vary state by state.

Inventory

There will be a learning curve to estimating how much inventory your bin store will go through. Additionally, depending on the inventory condition, MSRP, and retailer, the price of inventory can vary. Using B-Stock, you can participate in auctions that start as low as $100 and you only bid what you are willing to pay for the inventory. Keep in mind: a bin store primarily focuses on volume over value. This means you don’t necessarily have to go for the auction with the highest value items, but instead, the auction that will give you the largest amount of goods within your budget.

Less than truckload orders take up only a portion of the truck, so this could be one to 10 or 12 pallets. A truckload of liquidation inventory has about 24 pallets in it. If you have no problem working through a full truckload of inventory, it’s best to avoid multiple smaller shipments with individual shipping costs. However, if you don’t need a full truckload, B-Stock offers down to a pallet for purchase. You can be flexible with your inventory sourcing to accommodate demand.

Building costs

Budget in the cost of lumber or building materials that your bins will require. Some bins can be deep with similar goods, while others can be shallow for smaller or fragile items. Overall, don’t worry too much about the perfect interior. Bin stores can exist anywhere with zero frills. Your other material costs are going to be mostly inexpensive – your main concern should be how much and how often you can bring in new inventory. Customers are just looking for a deal, after all!

Permits

Opening a brick-and-mortar business, like a bin store, requires you to have your permits in order. A business license, to start. This is a basic requirement for any business to operate legally. It may be obtained from the city or county where the business is located. A few others you will need to research and apply for would be a zoning permit that ensures your store is zoned for commercial use; a fire permit; a signage permit; and a sales tax permit. The sales tax permit is especially important as resellers can purchase goods tax-free and then later collect it from customers.

On B-Stock, you will need a Sales Tax ID, or the number used on your resale certificate, to purchase liquidation goods.

Employees

Hiring staff is another cost of running your business. For bin stores, they will be especially important in keeping the bins restocked, cleaning, and running the registers. You may also consider having an internet-savvy person on staff that can help with additional selling needs like running an eBay storefront or Facebook page.

How much money can you make running a bin store?

A realistic outlook for potential entrepreneurs looking to run a bin store should expect lower profit margins to start. You are running on volume over value – which means you will make a consistent stream of revenue if you can keep up a consistent stream of inventory.

As a reseller, you typically look for higher profit margins on individual items. For example, a washing machine with an original price tag of $900 that a reseller bought on clearance for $650, can later go on to sell that unit for $800 once the sale is over, with a total profit of $150. The profit margins are higher with appliances–not the kind of inventory you will find in a bin store. Bin store items are typically $50 or less and sold for as low as $1-$5.

In one bin store owner’s experience, monthly sales were just under $40,000 and with expenses at about $33,000, profits were around $6,400 for the month.

Keep overhead expenses in mind

Rent

    •Location: lower rent outside of the city center versus high foot traffic areas
    •Size: 1,500 sqft on the more compact end and 5,000 sqft on the more spacious end

Insurance

    Protection against:
    •Property damage
    •Inventory loss
    •Liability claims

Utilities

    •Electricity
    •Water
    •Waste management

Employees

    •2-3 employees
    •Minimum wages vary by state

Subcontract selling

You can make an additional source of revenue by subcontract selling. If your business is the one buying the bigger loads, supplying other bin stores with pallets that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access is more change in your pocket. You will need to negotiate with the buyer and account for your shipping costs.

Tips for running a successful bin store

Tip #1: Staying ahead of inventory

Opening and running a bin store is going to be next to impossible if you don’t have a steady source of inventory. You can search locally for suppliers that are ordering their own truckloads and buy off of them, or split the costs of a truckload together. Alternatively, you can use an online liquidation auction platform that gives you direct access to thousands of retailers’ liquidation inventory.

In order to have enough inventory on hand to keep refilling your bins, you will want to ensure you order enough to last until your next load comes in. Due to shipping and logistics, you might not get inventory for weeks, or you might not secure the deal you were expecting. So staying ahead of inventory is key to maintaining your bin store’s profitability.

You may also choose to stock up on off-season goods. As retailers are trying to offload this inventory quickly to make way for their new merchandise, there may be less activity on these auctions and cheaper acquire. Typically, an online reseller or liquidation store owner may choose to hold onto these goods until demand arises for better pricing.

Tip #2: Volume over value

Bin stores run on one very important concept: volume over value. To illustrate this, imagine a pallet holding a thousand items, with an average unit cost of $1 per piece. Profits come from $5, $4, $3, and $2 day, and on the $1 day, you break even with the rest. Keep that steady stream of inventory up, and you’re running a profitable bin store.

@LiquidationMotivation

Credit: @LiquidationMotivation

That is why you must stay ahead of the inventory and keep your bin store stocked at all times. As we said, source your inventory weeks ahead, and maintain a direct connection. If you can get direct access to inventory, look for high piece count loads. That way you get a good product mix while keeping the cost per unit low. Check out How to Buy Liquidation Pallets for Sale Near Me for more information.


Quick FAQ: What does a high piece count load mean?

Since bin stores deal in volume, high piece count loads are the way to go. This means you get the best mix and the best amount of product. Here’s an example: a pallet of goods contains 1,000 items and the estimated retail value is $10,000, which means the retail value is about $10 per unit. You could win this lot for $300 and still sell every item for $1 and make a profit (1,000 units x $1 = $1,000 and you spent $300 so your profit would be $700)! Your customer benefits, too. Say they find a $10-value item in a $1 bin that you paid $3 for (take all 1,000 units and divide it out by your $300) In this simplified example, you can see what keeps customers coming back for more – the deals! And hence why volume over value is more important.


Tip #3: Cash management

Opting to go cashless or cash-only? There are pros and cons to both. A cashless operation won’t require daily trips to the bank to make deposits. It can also protect against internal theft.
The upfront cost would be a POS system that will allow for credit and debit payments. Cons here would be payment processing fees and the potential for chargebacks.

Tip #4: Pricing strategy

You will typically see bin stores with pricing strategies like $5, $4, $3, $2, and $1 days. You will quickly learn that the busiest days are the ones where customers can find a fresh batch of inventory not yet picked through – likely your $5 day – and the lowest deals – $1 day. If an item is considered too expensive at $5 day, the customer can come back another day when it could be a few dollars less (if it’s still there).

@Liquidation Motivation advises that $1 day is the best for clearing out the last of your inventory before refilling the bins. Otherwise, less-desirable inventory will pile up at the bottom. Once a month, his bin store will run a ‘$10 bag day’ and a ‘$20 bag day.’

Tip #5: Building a loyal customer base

The ultimate driver of success will be your loyal customer base. Customers are after one thing: deals. If your bin store can consistently meet customer expectations–by remaining fully stocked–then they will always have a reason to come back.

Consistency also translates to your business hours. Something easy to remember, like Thursday through Monday gives you time to restock your store in the middle of the week and catch the weekend shoppers. You never want to stray from this routine because you’ve run out of inventory.


Quick FAQ: How can I market my bin store?

Your advertising can be pretty minimal when it comes to running a bin store. Word-of-mouth is going to be free and spread on its own. Once you establish your Google My Business page, as well as a Facebook Business page, customers can seek you out on their own. You can utilize Facebook Live to create simple (and free) videos to draw customers in. You may also consider hiring someone part-time who is savvy with social media to manage the marketing for you.


Your bin store becomes a destination location that people will seek out once word-of-mouth spreads. Over time, you can easily see lines out the door from the same people coming back for more deals. Remember: these customers are likely sellers and flea market vendors themselves, they need access to inventory at heavily discounted prices so they can resell it for a profit.

By setting up a bin store, you can turn your B-Stock inventory into cash. It takes some work and investment, but with the right approach, it can be a profitable venture. Follow these tips and guidelines to set up your own bin store and get started on your journey to successful inventory selling.

Have more questions about bin stores? We've got answers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Follow the steps in the article if you have not already established your bin store.

• Order larger truckload quantities
The more inventory you can acquire at once, the better deal you’re going to get. It lowers your per-unit costs if you can one shipping fee on a high piece count load. A single pallet or two isn’t going to be enough to fill and replenish your bins. Remember, bin stores rely on volume over value, so the more you can get, the better off you will be. B-Stock truckloads can hold up to 24 pallets on average – but you may even consider two truckloads of inventory to really keep your bin store stocked.

• Continue to source new inventory
Being prepared with the inventory upfront is one thing, you must continuously source new inventory to remain a profitable bin store. You don’t want to run out of inventory while you wait for a truckload and be forced to shut your doors for even a day or two your customers are expecting to deal hunt. Use B-Stock as your steady source of inventory – we have hundreds of auctions closing each week!

• Sort inventory
If you already have a resale or liquidation business that sells items with higher profit margins, you can still open a bin store. You’ll just need to sort your inventory by what you plan to resell for a profit and what will go in the discount bins. Customers shouldn’t be left with the impression that the good stuff has been picked out. The bins should still contain valuable items that they can score a deal on. For example, in one electronics truckload, you could find a $1,200 MacBook computer and a $40 speaker. Naturally, you will want to sell the MacBook closer to the MSRP, the speaker, however, could make a great bin store find.

Bin stores can be profitable if they are managed effectively and efficiently. These stores typically sell merchandise like overstock, customer returns, and discontinued items, at far lower prices than other retail stores.

Bin stores naturally have lower profit margins than other retail stores because of its unique pricing strategy. Think: $1, $2, $3, $4, and $5 days. Operating on volume over value, you can turn a profit if you can keep up with inventory. If the store does not attract enough customers or fails to manage operational costs well, it may struggle to turn a profit.

If you can successfully run one bin store, the formula is easily repeatable and you can open more locations.

1. Figure out how to get the inventory first
If you are buying inventory from someone else, be prepared for the markups. A single pallet can go for $100-200 – and you may not even get to see what’s inside. You get the best deal by getting to the inventory first and paying pennies on the dollar for the same pallets. The trick is buying larger quantities.

2. Establish deal days
Deal days are going to be your strongest selling point. An easy-to-remember sale cadence will build loyal shoppers who know they can always score a deal. The fresh haul of a $5 day at the start of your week has a strong appeal to shoppers, just as promising as securing the best bargain on $1 day.

3. No bags
A no-bag policy simply creates less hassle. You may consider offering a standard-size bag for visitors to shop with. Once they pay, they can exit the store and re-enter with an empty bag. This helps keep a steady flow of shoppers without clearing you out in one fell swoop.

4. Don’t worry about having the fanciest store or marketing
Bin stores don’t require much in terms of aesthetics, so don’t worry about a fancy interior or beautiful displays.

Keep these expenses in mind:

• Real estate
The rental cost of a commercial space usually depends on various factors such as location, size, and amenities. As a location destination, you can opt for a less expensive location and still get foot traffic as word of mouth spreads.

• Insurance
Usually, commercial insurance can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars per year. A small retail store may pay less than a large warehouse or factory with more risks involved. The type of coverage required, such as liability or property insurance, can also affect the cost.

• Utilities
The cost of utilities for a commercial space can vary depending on several factors such as the size of the space, the type of business, geographical location, the efficiency of the building's systems, and the time of year. According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average monthly commercial electricity bill in the United States is around $660 for small businesses and $4,500 for larger companies. The cost of water and gas utilities may depend on the region and local rates.

• Internet
A basic internet service plan for a brick-and-mortar store can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 per month.

Other expenses might include building costs, permits, and the cost of labor (your employees). Finally, the cost of the inventory itself. Truckloads and LTL auctions on B-Stock start as low as $100!

Andrea Vargas

Andrea is the lead content writer for B-Stock Solutions, the largest online network of B2B liquidation marketplaces. She specializes in creating buyer resources and tools for entrepreneurs and power buyers looking for liquidated merchandise.

Amberly Bliss, Owner

Amberly Bliss, Owner

Retail Deals

"I feel so confident shopping and bidding on items knowing that I am going to get what I paid for. And if not, there’s a killer customer service team that’s going to make sure everything’s alright in the end. That’s huge. It’s hard to take that risk when you’re first starting out."

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