Thinking about opening a used clothing store? We tell you what you need to know to get started.
The Marketability of Secondhand Clothing
Business is booming for thrift stores and consignment shops in today's tough economic climate. Although all merchandise categories are experiencing increased demand, used clothing is doing exceptionally well as consumers eagerly snatch up name brand products for a fraction of the price they would pay a typical retailer.
There are several different types of used clothing retailers in the resale industry. Many sell general clothing and accessories for a wide range of customers; others specialize in designer brands, vintage apparel or specific customer categories (e.g. kids clothes).
But regardless of whether you decide to pursue a generalist or niche product approach, the mechanics of your operation will be the same -- secure great quality merchandise at a low price and attract customers by demonstrating value.
Branding a Used Clothing Retail Startup
It takes a certain amount of skill to properly brand a used clothing retail store. Since you're selling secondhand apparel, your store name needs to communicate both the resale and clothing aspects of your company mission. Sounds easy, right? It isn't -- and it's even more complicated by the fact that you'll want to make sure no one else has already branded your name ideas.
After you have settled on a name, you'll need to create a logo that reinforces your store's distinctive elements. Since your logo will be associated with your store for a long time (think years), you need to get it right the first time -- even if it means hiring a professional marketing firm for assistance.
Inventory Acquisition Tips for Secondhand Clothing Retailers
Inventory is the lifeblood of a used clothing retail operation. Without adequate inventory, your startup is just a storefront with a cash register. In addition to stocking your initial inventory with merchandise from your personal stash and your friends' closets, you'll need to either buy "gently used" clothing items directly from the public or accept merchandise on a consignment basis.
To augment your inventory even further, consider shopping for high quality, used designer merchandise on eBay and other online auction sites. But keep in mind that clothing cost is a big deal for a thrift store retailer. Your customers will expect as much as a 70% discount off the "new" purchase price, so you'll need to be intelligent about how much you pay for merchandise in order to meet your profit goals.
How to Write an Effective Used Clothing Store Business Plan
A business plan isn't just another startup formality. It's a core business document that will guide your used clothing store's decisions and activities on a go-forward basis.
Accuracy and an eye for detail count when writing a business plan. To be reliable, your business plan can't include best guesses or intentional exaggerations.
The more effort you invest in the details of your plan, the greater the payoff you will receive from your efforts. As a further guide, consider what the experts say about business plan writing.
Consider the Competition
Before you open a used clothing store in your area, it's essential to determine how strong the competition is. Use the link below to find competitors near you. After following the link, enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of used clothing stores in your area.
Prior to opening your doors for business, be sure you fully understand the competitive landscape and where your new business will fit in.
Turning Competitors Into Collaborators
As part of your due diligence on opening a used clothing store, it's a wise move to speak with somebody who is already in the business. Local competitors are not going to give you the time of day, mind you. The last thing they want to do is help you to be a better competitor.
Thankfully, an owner of a a used clothing store in a different city may be more than happy to give you a few tips, after they realize you reside far away from them and won't be stealing their local customers. In that case, the business owner may be more than happy to discuss the industry with you. In my experience, you may have to call ten business owners in order to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
The key question new becomes: how to find a used clothing store entrepreneur on the other side of the country to talk to?
No problem! Just use the link below and try a random city/state or zipcode. Then start dialing for advice until you are successful.
Guidelines for a Used Clothing Store Acquisition
There are a lot of reasons why it may be preferable to acquire a used clothing store instead of starting a new business venture.
An acquisition isn't necessarily a bed of roses. You'll need to thoroughly evaluate the factors involved with buying a business. The first criteria to consider is whether the existing business can be adequately adapted to your business philosophy.
If the business is right for you, the assistance of a business broker will help all of the rest of the pieces of the process fall in place and you will be well on your way to owning a proven used clothing store.
Franchising May Be a Better Way to Go
Franchises reduce the amount of time it takes to launch a business because they leverage the expertise of successful used clothing stores and enhance the visibility of your startup in the local market. When it comes to supply chains, marketing, hiring processes, operational procedures and other areas, it's hard to beat a small business franchise.
While it's true that franchising has both benefits and drawbacks, our apparel franchise directory will give you the tools you need to evaluate whether a franchised startup is a good fit for you and your goals.
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