How To Start A Retail Clothing Business

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Image of a retail clothing shop

Clothing Business Quick Overview:

One of the greatest things about starting is the number of specialties or niches you can go into.

You most probably don’t want to be “just another clothing store” selling cheap clothes that are indistinguishable from clothes carried at places like Walmart. Chances are, you’re looking, or should be looking, for items Walmart doesn’t sell.

To be successful with a retail clothing business in your area, you need to take a look at the community you live in. Is it “down-home rural,” “upscale classic,” full of cute babies and trendy teenagers?

Or, perhaps you want to sell retail clothing that meets a need, such as clothes for older adults, uniforms, or some other type of clothing that is hand-made by local or international seamstresses.

Storefronts can also vary, for example, strip-mall space, full retail store, a permanent vendor booth at a specific location, a small boutique, or an online-only retail clothing store.

Skill Set:
  • Retail sales and marketing
  • Merchandising
  • Fashion knowledge
  • Clothing import
  • Stock display
  • Inventory control
  • Clothing sales
  • Handle cash and credit transactions
  • Work with clothing wholesalers
  • A good at creating excellent displays
  • A good eye for color coordination
  • Good at matching clothing and Accessories
  • List of Common Business Skills
Employee & Job Consideration During The Start-Up Phase Or In The Future:
Approximate Daily Hours Needed:

Depending on your location, this business runs according to retail sales hours, such as Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., if you are located in a mall you may stay open to 10:00 PM

Equipment, Supplies, & Services During Start-up OR In The Future:
  • Acrylic Displays
  • Counter-top displays
  • Clothing Racks
  • Clothing forms and mannequins
  • Display cases and counters
  • Glass displays
  • Grid wall
  • Hat racks
  • Jewelry displays
  • Slat wall
  • Shopping bags, tissue paper, and gift boxes
  • Price gun
  • Tagging gun with tags
  • Size rings
  • Security mirrors
  • Shopping baskets
  • Cash register(s)
  • Credit card processor
  • Retail sales software
  • Dressing rooms/mirrors
  • Warehouse
  • Additional display furnishings
  • Draperies, floor coverings
  • Speaker system (music)
  • Seating (small couches, chairs)
  • Restroom/baby changing area
  • Van or truck
  • List of Essential office Equipment
  • See Our List of General Retail Equipment
Monthly Expenses To Consider:

List of Common Monthly Expenses

Licenses:

See Our Page on Licenses and Permits

Approximate Minimum Startup Cost:

Bare essential – The average startup cost may vary from a couple hundred dollars if you have an online-only store, up to $5,000, or thousands more to get your foot in the door of a brick and mortar retail establishment.

Some owners have been able to start up with as little as $30,000, while others recommend no less than $50,000 to get the ball rolling. A number of owners have said it took them $150,000 to get their business off the ground.

Pros and Cons:

The Pros:

  • It’s a versatile occupation where you can carry coordinating items such as jewelry
  • Expandable
  • Depending on your niche, you have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of trade shows
  • High profits in clothing

The Cons:

  • Full-time job that may require you to work 12- to 14-hour days
  • A risky investment as sales often fluctuate with the economic climate
  • Carrying the wrong types of clothing will put you out of business fast
  • A lot of competition if you don’t discover a way to be different and offer something others don’t
Type of Customers:

The target market is as varied as the people in your community. The niche you are catering to or need you are filling will determine your clientele.

You may focus on business attire, wedding or formal wear, children’s and infant’s clothing, trendy clothing, high-end fashion, imported clothes, designer creations, or any other sector.

Thus, the clothing your business carries will reflect the segment of society that you are catering to business-oriented, brides-to-be, new mothers, college students, and so forth.

Be sure your advertising also lines up with your customer base!

Resources:

Wholesalers and Supplies:

Wholesale Central

Clothing Retail Directory

Wholesale DIR

Books:

Start Your Own Clothing Store and More