Starting a small business can be difficult, and opening a clothing store has some additional challenges. Fashion is always changing; image, brand and location all play a very important role for retail clothing stores. Determining the look, image or brand of the store will carve out a niche, and the clothing that is offered must cater to your target demographic. For example, a store that sells maternity clothing would also unlikely be selling men's suits.
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Write a business plan. A business plan outlines how the business will start up and what resources are necessary to maintain the business. The plan should be all encompassing and include a detailed budget. Sample business plans can be found online.
Decide on a target demographic. Whom is the store targeted towards? What clothing will be offered? A small clothing store is not a big department store that can cater to all shoppers. A smaller store is a boutique and can usually only fit so many items of clothing inside. Many small clothing stores will either only carry women's clothing or have men's wear take up no more than 1/3 or 1/2 of the space. According to the Wharton School of Business, women spend more time and money shopping for clothing than men do.
License the business. A business can either be a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation. A corporation is advised as the business will have more legal protection under this form of ownership.
Find a supplier. This is crucial to ensure success. A supplier, manufacturer or distributor will supply the store the season's hottest fashions. The supplier also will help determine the profit margin on different items. For example, one supplier may sell an item to the store for £3, while another may sell that same item for £13. This is a material difference that can greatly impact the profits of the store. Shop around for suppliers.
Research locations. Depending on the nature of the business and type of clothing store, different locations will be sought. For example a high end women's boutique may be best suited to a nicer shopping mall or an upscale neighbourhood. While a discount clothing store may be best suited for an industrial district with lower rent. The location will have a big impact on the type of clientèle the business will attract.
Decorate the store. The store should have an ambience that invites shoppers in. The decor and lighting should compliment the types of clothing being offered. For example, a lingerie store should have soft lighting, carpet and materials to make the space cosy and comfortable.
Market the business. Have a grand opening sale. Invite everyone you know to attend and spread the word. Advertise the business through traditional mediums such as print, TV and radio. Use non-traditional mediums such as social networks like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to market the business for free. Clothing stores can attract extra attention by cross-promoting your products with events. If your store donates clothing for a fashion show, your store will receive added exposure. Use visible signage to draw in street traffic.
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