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Opening a Boutique the Right Way
Boutiques are small stores that usually have a specific sales focus. For most, a boutique will sell clothing or accessories. Boutiques are small businesses that offer personalised customer care and a more thorough shopping experience than a larger store.
Before opening a boutique, figure out what type of items you'll be selling. This will determine the location of the store, what financing you'll need and who your competition will be. In-depth research of these areas will be necessary at the business planning stage.
Of course, a boutique business will have a better chance of succeeding with thorough planning and research. Whether done by yourself or a consulting firm, the business plan is essential to organisation and financing. A full plan will include licensing information, tax identification forms, financial projections, mission statements and examinations of nearby competition. Because a boutique is small and more vulnerable to economic upheavals, good research can be a security blanket in the face of uncertain times.
How to Stock the Boutique
Once you've planned the store, the next step will be stocking it. The buying process sounds like fun, but it can be complicated and easy to mess up. When first opening a boutique, it's better to under buy than over buy. Most retail items have a shelf life, especially clothing, and discount sales to get rid of extra items can eat away at profits. Purchase sparingly, unless the manufacturer has a very limited production run of a particular line.
Find wholesalers at reputable trade shows or through trade associations and merchant groups. Internet searches for wholesalers will turn up a cornucopia of full-price retail middlemen that don't truly offer wholesale deals. Trade events like Magic (Las Vegas) or the Fashion Weeks of Los Angeles and New York are terrific for making contacts with the actual business, rather than a middleman.
Branding a Boutique Business
One of the best things about boutiques is their small size. This gives the owner a fantastic edge on larger, less personal operations. While the mall may offer lots of huge stores, they may not have great trunk shows, personal shopping or alterations--services that boutiques can offer to their clientele. Highlight these differences prominently.
Good words for boutiques are personal, small, attentive, detail oriented and friendly. Establish links into the community and become involved in town business at the local level through the Chamber of Commerce. After a while, your boutique business will be known for its small-sized charm and attention to the customer, which will bring more business in the door.
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