Stationery stores sell more than just thank-you cards. These stores specialise in selling invitations, greeting cards, guest books, envelopes, journals and much more. Many people use stationery for significant events in their lives, such as birthdays, holidays and weddings -- giving stationery stores the opportunity to be quite profitable. Opening a stationery store can be an enjoyable endeavour, but it takes careful planning to create a successful one.
- Skill level:
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Decide if you want to open a general stationery store or one that targets a niche audience. Niches may include wedding stationery, custom-made stationery, homemade stationery, eco-friendly products, humorous stationery, stationery for children or stationery with regional or religious themes.
Obtain business permits from your state to operate a retail store. You may need a sales tax, use permit or resale permit. If you buy and resell and hire staff, you'll need to apply for an Employee Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS.
Take out a loan. You need start-up capital to pay for business expenses and advertising. Expenses include retail supplies; rent, if you manage a retail store; stocks of paper; and inventory.
Open your own retail store. You can open a brick-and-mortar store, an e-commerce shop, sell at a flea market or set up shop at a mall kiosk. The least expensive option is opening an online store. This option allows you to build a customer base and later move to a physical location once your business expands.
Purchase wholesale stationery from larger distributors or artisan companies. Review websites for distributors and online marketplaces for independent stationery makers. Buy items in bulk, such as holiday cards, address labels, stampers, pens, notepads, monogrammed napkins, gift wrap and craft and party supplies.
Create custom stationery. Use your own creativity and talents to create one-of-a-kind designs from your own computer. If you print from home, you need to purchase high-quality ink and paper. Purchase software that includes templates, graphics and other customising tools to create your own stationery. Create other items, such as custom invitations, place cards, photo albums and business cards.
Find a printing business that can do high-quality work and establish a relationship with the employees there. If you choose to carry high-end items that required engraving, you'll need a professional printer. Consider using a smaller, less expensive printing company that can commit time to your products. Meet with various printers and ask them for paper samples and a price list. Find out if they are willing to assemble and ship your stationery to customers directly.
Market your stationery store online and in print directories. Feature custom products, artwork from speciality lines and any stationery produced by local artists. Hand out flyers with complimentary coupons and leave some of them at businesses, such as home decor stores and bookstores. Launch a promotional website and blog for your business.
Create a catalogue. Share your store's catalogue with friends, family and neighbours. Purchase software or hire an online company to make catalogues for your business.
Attend the National Stationery Show in New York City. This trade show brings small stationery businesses together with buyers, manufacturers, licensers, distributors and the press.
Tips and warnings
- Consider purchasing a stationery franchise. Franchises provide you with an existing brand name and customers up front, but they are costly.
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