How to Start Up a Vintage Clothing Store

If you love classic looks from yesterday and the idea of owning your own store, learn how to start up a vintage clothing store. Although you will have competition from higher priced designer consignment shops and very heap charity-driven stores where people donate old clothes, you can create your own niche with a vintage clothing store. Make sure you know what you want in your store, and then follow these steps to making your vintage clothing store dream a reality.

  1. You need to first make a business plan for your vintage clothing store. A business plan is akin to a guide map for your store. It will show you how to get from dreaming of a vintage clothing store to actively running one. The Small Business Association exists to help people like you out with this dream. You can go to the Small Business Association for a mentor, for help with writing the business plan and for help with grant or loan money for opening the business. Start by reading its samples of business plans.
  2. Within your vintage clothing store business plan, you want to explain what your specific niche is for your store. Get more specific than vintage clothing. There are many vintage clothing stores in most cities and even lots of towns. What sets yours apart? What mood and imagine are you going to advertise and create for your store? You may want to specialize in name brands, designer clothes, stuff from a certain decade or group of decades, clothes that replicate looks from movie scenes, etc. The types of specialties and themes of your store are unlimited. Pick one that you are especially passionate about, because it's going to be your store. You're going to need to love it unconditionally. It's going to take a lot of work and commitment to succeed.
  3. Decide who is your target customer and who your suppliers will be. Your suppliers very well may also be your customers, especially if opt for a consignment vintage store. That's where people come to you to sell their vintage clothes, yet you only pay them a percentage of the sale once the transaction is completed. This can be a win-win for a vintage store, since you don't pay unless it sells. If it doesn't, the seller can eventually just take the item back. It's little risk for you, but that alone won't fill your store at first. If you love to shop flea markets, garage sales and discount vintage shops for treasures that you will then preserve or sell as is, you may be your sole provider, but this is hard to keep up. Make sure to have a clear and organized way of supplying your store with great merchandise on a regular basis before it opens.
  4. Find the perfect locale for your shop. The ideal place is where there's heavy foot traffic and plentiful parking. That way, people who had no intention of buying something vintage that day may happen upon  your store and fall in love with the displays. It should be at a place where it can stand out and be easily accessed by your target demographic.
  5. Secure financing. There are many ways to do this. You may personally finance the endeavor, but that's rarely recommended. The Small Business Association can point you to reputable lenders and grant possibilities. Never go for sub prime lenders and try to avoid financing for a business. A vintage clothing shop is going to require a smaller overhead than many types of stores, but you'll still need thousands of dollars to open it. Use the business plan to acquire investors, a grant or a loan.
  6. Take care of the final details to open the vintage clothing store. For example, register your business with the state ,establish its name and get a tax ID number.  You'll also want to secure advertising and public relations to get the word out about your store in advance of opening your start up vintage clothing store.
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