Opening a Retail Clothing Store

Opening a retail clothing store is something many people dream of their whole life. Shopping! Fashion! Fun! However, there’s a lot more that goes into opening a retail store than just cute clothes. Make sure you have covered all the bases before deciding to jump into opening your own business.

Supply and Demand

First, evaluate if there is a demand for clothing stores in your area. Opening in an area with existing businesses that are already thriving is a smart move because it will guarantee foot traffic and visibility for your store. However, if there are already several clothing stores in the nearby area, you may want to reconsider this location. It will be harder to compete with established businesses and also more difficult to find vendors willing to sell to you, as they often have non-compete agreements within the nearby radius.

Location, Location, Location!

If there are other boutiques already in your area, another option is to open a specialty store. Examples of a specialty store include:

  • Children’s Boutique
  • Plus-Size Store
  • Lingerie Shop
  • Special Occasion Dress Shop

Establishing a unique market niche will help you stand out from the competition.


Once you’ve determined that the location you’ve picked is good to go, the next step is to determine your target market. An important factor to remember is that you are not selecting merchandise for yourself – you are selecting merchandise based on what your potential customer is looking for. While you may love trendy fashions from Paris, if your boutique is based in Wisconsin, you will need to cater to that market.

It’s a Numbers Game!

Math plays a huge factor in owning and operating a retail clothing store. If the thought of crunching numbers makes your head spin, it may be in your best interest to hire a retail accountant. An accountant can help you determine a buying budget, make sales projections, and set profit goals. Keep in mind that opening a business often times requires more capital than anticipated, so you’ll need adequate savings in order to move forward comfortably. Talk to many business owners and they’ll tell you that they waited until year 2 or 3 to begin paying themselves a salary.


Refrain from making the rookie mistake of tying up too much of your capital cash in inventory. It’s better to begin smaller, as you can always reorder popular styles and more inventory as cash begins to flow into your business. Determine how frequently you will go to market to buy. Planning for Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter is a good start, but if your store begins to experience higher turnover, you may need to increase the frequency of your buying trips. Research to find the best trade shows to attend in your region. There are smaller shows throughout the US, but the major ones are MAGIC (Las Vegas), STYLEMAX, (Chicago), and FAME (New York City).


Once you’ve bought your inventory, determine your markup percentage. Vendors and manufactures will likely give you suggested pricing for the items you purchase from them, but you will generally need 60% markup to make a profit. Depending on your location, and competitor pricing, you may be able to slightly raise your markup percentage.

Were Here to Help

Opening a new store is an exciting time for an entrepreneur and yet you will be faced with many new challenges as you move ahead towards your goal. Specialty Store Services can help. With over 30 years in the retail industry, we have the knowledge and experience to help make your dreams a reality. Don’t be shy, please give us a call at 888-441-4440 or send us an E-Mail, we’d love to hear from you.