Ever dreamed of opening your own retail clothing store? Well, I just opened one in Southern California not too long ago. It is actually a LOT harder than you might think to get your doors open and a few sales under your belt. To get started you'll need vision, a reseller's permit and a business license. While the unique vision might take months or years, the latter two requirements will only entail filling out a couple basic forms and waiting a couple of weeks for the paperwork to show up in the mail. That doesn't sound too difficult you say. Well, wait a second as the following to do items take just a bit more effort.
You will be:
1. Setting up a sole proprietorship, LLC, S or C Corp in order to protect your and your partner(s) personal assets should your retail store get sued.
2. Finding the right space that is an area with a fair amount of foot traffic and ample parking.
3. Negotiating your commercial lease so that you're not stuck into a 5 year commitment. (Make sure to try and negotiate the ability to sub-lease your space. It's a long shot, but it doesn't hurt to ask.)
4. Raising at least $50,000 in capital so you can remodel and stock your store.
5. Getting the proper building and electrical permits signed off so you can actually have the power turned on. That's right you can't have power until everything is signed off by the city. By the way, make sure at least one of your dressing rooms and one of your registers is handicap friendly. Otherwise you will not be able to open your doors until one is. I learned this lesson the hard way.
6. Finding the right employees to help you fill in the hours you can't be there. No matter how dedicated you are, you will need to get away from your store at least two days a week.
7. Making sure you have the blessing of your suppliers before embarking on this retail journey. I had no idea that the most popular jean companies will not sell wholesale to your store unless you already have some brand name jeans suppliers on board. This catch 22 absolutely baffles me, but I digress.
8. Budgeting is very difficulty. You will not believe the cost of your electricity (especially if you're running the AC all day) or how quickly your payroll adds up.
9. Developing and implementing an effective; on going marketing campaign. "Build it and they will come" does not apply to no-name clothing stores. You are going to have to slowly build a brand in your community. Taking out a one page ad in the local newspaper will be a huge waste of money unless you advertise giving away your product. You need to be VERY creative (think event marketing) and extremely patient. Unless you're opening your store in a mall, foot traffic will be limited and you'll have to rely on word of mouth.
10. Lastly, you'll be treating every customer like they were your one and only. You are going to have to differentiate yourself through outstanding service and by providing a unique shopping experience, Otherwise you will never survive.
All that being said, do not be discourage. I must say that it is tremendously rewarding and rather cool to own your own clothing store. If you are fashionable, passionate, sharp and excel at networking, then I have no doubt that you will succeed. Good Luck !
Bradley is a fashion industry pro. He owns a retail store in Costa Mesa, CA and is also the owner of Fashionable Clothing Wholesaler Blankstyle.com . His website and store carries vintage soft, fitted and stylish blanks from companies such as American Apparel.
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