- If you’re planning on starting an independent clothing business, you’ll need to find a market gap and tap into it. Do some research and find out how to narrow down your field into clothing subcategories like petite, curvy plus sizes or clothes designed specifically for tall people. Find whatever works for the subcategory where there’s a need.
Finding a suitable location for your business is also a vital step you need to take. You don’t need to open your store in the ritziest location, but the building and your store should be clean and welcoming to your potential customers. You’ll also want marketing materials and a marketing plan in place, so that when you do have your grand opening, people will be outside, waiting for your doors to open.
Determine Your Clothing Niche
Who is your target market? And what types of clothes do you want to sell? Do you want to specialize in children’s clothes, the tween market, or ladies clothing? If you don’t have a preference, take a look around your area so that you can see which market is being under-served. Then, strive to fill that niche.
For example, if there aren’t a lot of choices for big and tall teen males, if you open a clothing store targeting this group, you would be filling this niche. Or, maybe there aren’t any high-end or formal fashion boutiques for teen girls or young women. Studying your market or lack thereof can help you shape the kind of business you should open. Another option is a mall kiosk, or you can store the merchandise and sell online on a site such as eBay.
Find Wholesalers Online
Once you have your business plan and legal structure in place, it’s time to begin working with wholesale suppliers. Relationships are key in retail, so you’ll want to invest both time and money in finding the best wholesalers and working with them closely.
There are a couple of ways to locate clothing wholesalers. One option is to find websites for companies that represent multiple clothing brands. The other is to visit the website of a clothing brand you would like to sell. You can typically find links to wholesale information on the top or bottom of these sites, though you shouldn’t expect too much detail regarding qualifications, order minimums, pricing or terms. Instead, use the website to contact the brand or wholesaler.
In most cases, you can apply for a wholesale account directly on the site, though you may be instructed to phone or email a representative instead. The application process may be straightforward, though wholesalers of more elite brands could make it more difficult for you to qualify as a reseller, at least while your business is still new.
You’ll be expected to provide proof that you are operating a legitimate business. This proof usually includes a copy of your business license, your resale permit and, in some cases, copies of invoices from other wholesale accounts that you already have. Be sure to ask the wholesaler or brand representative about their terms, including pricing rules and how to establish credit terms.
Developing Supplier Relationships
Developing strong relationships with wholesale suppliers is essential to the success of your business. When you work well with a wholesale representative, you will likely be able to enjoy preferred pricing, access to in-demand merchandising and accommodating payment terms. Be respectful of your representative’s time, pay invoices by their due dates and approach your rep about concerns before a small issue turns into a big problem.
Other Inventory Options
Other options for developing inventory include:
- Get offline and go to industry trade shows. The advantage of going to a trade show is that you can meet representatives in person and can inspect merchandise samples before placing an order.
- Purchasing inventory from stores that are going out of business or that are getting rid of merchandise at the end of a season. While these items won’t be on-trend, they can represent a significant profit center for your business. Your customers will appreciate getting a good deal and you’ll be able to offer a more extensive selection of merchandise.
- Work with a liquidation jobber. Liquidation companies buy unsold merchandise from major department stores and catalog retailers, bundle them into lots, and then sell the lots to resellers. While you won’t have the option of selecting each piece of merchandise, it is possible to purchase new, name brand clothing for pennies on the dollar. The better liquidators also provide a manifest that shows you exactly what is in the lot before you purchase it. Many liquidators are online and you can order lots directly from their websites.