Before opening up a clothing store you have to ensure that
either you situate the shop in an area that will appreciate
the clothes that you have for sale, or that you
can purchase wholesale clothing that will appeal
to the shoppers in the neighborhood.
For instance, are your shoppers professional women
looking for Tahari office suits, or are they
teenagers looking for a great price on Guess dresses?
You can start out by planning a clothing store
based on the population that you will be catering to,
or you can develop a retail business plan
based on the wholesale apparel that you
have access to.
If you are planning on opening
up a store in a downtown business district
like Lagos, Nigeria, you would want
to look for brand name office attire
by brands such as Tahari, Calvin Klein,
Jones New York, etc.
Having said that, the
business district in Manhattan
will have a different dress code
than the business district in
Port Of Spain, but so will
in any given neighborhood.
On the other hand, let's say you have
a great connection with a supplier
for wholesale kids clothing by
brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren,
Timberland, Nike, and Tommy Hilfiger.
In that case you would want to
look for a location that would
cater to parents with young
Make sure that your store offers convenience,
especially now that so much of
shopping is done online from e-commerce
sites like Amazon and eBay.
I even read that there was talk
for Macy's to become an online only retailer.
You should strongly consider
launching a website for your
store as soon as possible,
this way shoppers
can purchase an item that they
saw on your shelves,
even when they get home.
A convenient location means that it
can be accessed easily, is on the right
side of the traffic flow, and can be easily
reached by your shoppers.
I once read about a gas station in New Jersey
that struggled from day one. It was on
the side of the highway that people
drove on to get home. Turns out
that by the time people were done
with work they were too
tired to go to the gas station. According
to the article people preferred
to fill up their car's gas tanks
on their way to work.
You need to consider the same concept
when situating your clothes boutique.
One of the big debates in retail is
whether it makes sense to
rent a high trafficked retail location
at a high rent as opposed to
renting a low trafficked low rent
In other words, should you
rent a spot on 34th st and 5th ave, in Manhattan
right in the heart of the NY Garment Center,
or a store with less traffic but with
a lower rent on 39th st and 10th ave.
The benefits of being in a high traffic
location is that your shop will be exposed
to many shoppers. The disadvantage is
that since the rent is high you don't
have much of a margin for error if
people don't start buying the clothing
that you are selling.
On the other hand, a store in a low traffic
area might struggle to attract customers,
but at least the store owner is not under
the same type of financial pressure since
her rent is relatively low.
I personally would prefer to be a in
a low traffic low rent area, and then
spend time using social marketing to
attract shoppers to my business.
I utilize the same strategy with my
closeout business in Brooklyn, Closeout Explosion.
My warehouse is located on Greenpoint Ave,
where the foot traffic might less than
on Manhattan Ave,
but the rent is also substantially less.
Regardless of your approach you need to
make sure that you are stocking your
apparel business with high margin
fashion products that are desirable to
I can tell you from personal
experience that brand name designer
goods outsell private label and
When your store carries Nine West dresses
it will attract more customer attention
than if it carries private label Chinese dresses.
At the same time, do not disregard the
potential of boutique, private label,
and generic wholesale clothing, since the
margins are usually substantially higher
than on designer fashion items.
Ideally your business should carry
a wide range of categories,
and at different price points,
this way you can appeal to
a large range of customers.
You should also carry accessories
so that you can make extra impulse
sales as people purchase your
If your shop sells R&M Richards evening
dresses you might consider carrying
Anne Klein shoes that will match those
If your shop has a selection of
Lauren By Ralph Lauren social dresses
you might want to stock up with
Coach handbags that can go along
with those dresses.
You might be hesitant to expand into
additional product lines since you
want to keep a certain image for your
boutique, so instead of selling the
fashion accessories you can use them
as bonuses to encourage shoppers
to make a purchase by you.
Many retailers, such as Victoria's Secret,
The Gap, Banana Republic, and Abercrombie & Fitch,
utilize membership programs to
build a loyal client base.
You don't have to be an international
clothing chain to take advantage of a
membership program, simply compile
a list of benefits that you are
willing to offer your loyal shoppers,
and set up your rewards program.
For instance, if you purchased a closeout of
Michael Kors handbags you
might want to give out the
Michael Kors pocketbooks to shoppers
that spend $1,000 or more in your store.
Sure, you will be cutting down on your
short term profit margin, but think
of the long term sales benefit to
having long term customers purchasing
your fashion products.
One of the most important things
a savvy retailer can do is to
always bring in new merchandise to
Even if the merchandise consists of
only a few units, or the profit margin is
really low, it's important to
always have new items to
keep the interest of shoppers.
I once purchased a lot of Jovani
dresses, and although I wholesaled
them at a very low closeout price,
the excitement that they generated
for my New York closeout business
was well worth it.
You can find new merchandise
by visiting the New York Fashion District,
or a wholesale district closer to you.
You can also search for wholesale suppliers
through search engines like Wholesalecentral.com,
CloseoutCentral.com, and supplier directories
You can also purchase pallets of clothing
through online liquidators such as
Liquidation.com and Bstock.com,
although purchasing pallets
can present challenges to'
When you purchase a wholesale pallet
you can receive a very wide
assortment of items, and not every item
might meet your specifications.
For instance, you might receive a beautiful
Calvin Klein blouse, but might also
receive an XOXO skirt that you
might not like as much.
The advantage of buying by the pallet
is that the wholesale price that you
are paying tends to be much lower
than when you purchase the same
clothing by the piece.
I would personally prefer to visit
a clothing warehouse where
you can make your own selection
of individual fashion pieces,
while paying a below wholesale
closeout price for them.
The bottom line is that you need
to have merchandise for your shoppers,
and your inventory must be updated
on a regular basis so that people
keep on returning to your store.
Don't make the mistake of waiting for
your current inventory to sell out before
placing a new order with your supplier.
Just like you want to see new offerings
when you shop at your local department store,
your clients want to see new deals when
they visit your place.
Think about, even Nike updates their T-Shirts
on a regular basis since they know
that people want to see new products
on a regular basis.