Starting a shoe store that caters specifically to the needs of children allows you to specialise your store in ways that general shoe stores usually do not. For example, you can decorate the inside of your store to target parents and children or can use your capital to bring in speciality or luxury-line children's shoes. Setting up this kind of store, though, requires careful planning to successfully compete with other local shoe stores.
Create a business plan to help organise your thoughts and ideas for your shoe store. Write about the basic structure your children's shoe store will take. Decide if you want to carry a full line of children's shoe sizes or if you want to specialise in a certain shoe area, such as infant, baby and toddler shoes. Discuss possible brands you want in your store. Devote a section to start-up financing and cost requirements, including how much approximate capital is required for acquiring children's shoe inventory and supplies. Write a section on your business plan about competitor shoe stores in your neighbourhood; try to find a distinguishing factor about your own shoe store (e.g. speciality products) and include this information.
Research suppliers for children's shoes. Subscribe to trade publications, such as Shoe Retailing Today by the National Shoe Retailers Association, to find information on vendors and shoe manufacturers. Visit trade shows, such as those of the World Shoe Association (WSA) and American Apparel and Footwear Association. Pay attention to children's shoe brands and exhibitors that present at the event. For example, a few children's shoe exhibitors and brands the WSA trade show works with include Baby Won, Creation Shoe Trading Company and Jumping-Jacks.
Contact shoe manufacturers and brands directly to find suppliers and distributors of children's shoes and get general price lists. Major manufacturers that design and produce children's shoes include Stride Rite, Preschoolians, Cienta and Keen Footwear, in addition to other brands like Nike, adidas and Gap. Call customer service phone numbers listed on individual company websites and ask where distributors and wholesalers exist in your area. Or, find distributors and manufacturers of shoes via business-to-business directories like ThomasNet or Kellysearch.com.
Find retail space for your children's shoe store. Look in shopping mall areas or stand-alone retail buildings that have empty space. Ideally, choose a retail space which is near restaurants, play areas, day care centres or other child-centric businesses, which might attract parents who shop with their children.
Complete the business registration process with your state. Think of a name for your children's shoe store, making it a catchy and fun name to attract both parents and children. Register this name with your state and acquire retail and sales tax licenses, as well as any other licenses and permits required by the state.
Acquire financing to get your store up and running. Take your business plan to a banker or lender and make your presentation, answering any questions about how your children's shoe store will succeed. Sign loan paperwork and agreements to acquire the capital.
Purchase the shoes and supplies for your store. Place orders with manufacturers and companies for the children's shoe brands you've decided to carry. Choose and buy the supplies necessary to set up the inside of your store, such as display racks, counter tops and point-of-sale systems.
Set up the inside of your store. Paint the walls of your store youthful, bright colours to attract children and parents. Space aisles wide enough to allow for shopping trolleys or baby strollers. Set up shoe displays, organising shoes by gender (e.g. boys and girls shoes), size and/or type of shoes (e.g. casual and dress shoes).
Start advertising and marketing your store. Create a website with an e-commerce shopping trolley platform if you intend to sell your inventory online. Begin direct-mail campaigns to target residents in the immediate and surrounding zip-code areas. Place an announcement or press release in local newspapers discussing the special features of your store. If your store is in a shopping mall, ask to set up special banners or stands that feature your store.