How to Start Your Own Retail Clothing Store

Owning a retail clothing store can be a great way to sell your own designs, fashions from other designers or a combination of both. If you have a flair for style or you can help others create an image that they are looking for, you can have a steady stream of repeat customers and referrals lining up at your door.

Owning a retail clothing store is much different than just selling clothes. Whether it is merchandising classes, a previous retailing job, volunteer activities or assisting others in the retail field – the more experience you have when opening your own retail store, the better.

The first step is to decide on a specific niche market you want to sell to. Do not try to make everyone your customer. Choose a specific market and offer products exclusively for those customers (i.e. Tennis apparel, second hand store for kids, Halloween costumes, etc). Ideally, you want to represent a niche in your local are that is not yet represented. Also offer a unique benefit that you can give your customers that other stores do not offer. This will attract more customers to your store.

Second, you want to write a business plan for your store. If you do not want to hire someone to write your plan, you can download business plan software or templates and write it yourself fairly easily. You can also find free sample business plans online from other retail stores that will give you an idea of how to put together your own plan. A business plan is also essential for obtaining any financing yo may need.

Third, deal with the paperwork, including finances, tax and insurance. Decide on a business name and register it with the County Clerks Office. You can contact your local city or county government office to find out which licenses and permits you need. You can often find this information online at the city or county website, with downloadable documents and instructions.

Get a business tax id from the IRS. Open a business bank account to keep your personal and business finances separate. Meet with an insurance agent to discuss your insurance requirements and options. You can also get free quotes and information online.

Talk with a tax accountant about tax deductions and how you want to handle accounting for your business. If you decide to do your own bookkeeping, make your job easier with basic accounting software you can pick up at Amazon.

Fourth, choose a location for your shop. Look at several locations including local zoning and other regulations that may apply. Will the location bring in enough foot traffic to cover the rent – and does the area offer future growth potential? Is there enough floor space and storage for both products and customers, and is there plenty of parking space for shoppers?

Fifth, but most importantly, you want to get customers. You can advertise in a variety of different ways. While keeping your ads simple, you want them to grab attention and provide quality information about your merchandise or store events. Focus on what makes you different from other stores – plus give people a reason to come see (and buy from) you.

If you want to save on business expenses, you can submit a press release to your local newspaper announcing the opening of your retail store. Schedule an open house party, fashion show, guest designer or sale to get the word out. Press releases can take very little time and can get you free advertising in the paper instead of having to pay for an ad.

When in doubt, consult a professional! By that, I mean get a business start-up guide at your local library or bookstore. This step-by-step guidance is cheap for the knowledge you can receive. Alternatively, you may want to persuade a noncompeting store owner to answer your questions while you take him or her to lunch. The insight you receive can be invaluable.

Post time: 10-17-2017