Start a plus size clothing store by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your plus size clothing store. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a plus size clothing store?
The costs of opening a plus size clothing store are substantial. It costs between $50,000 and $150,000 to open a clothing boutique, and plus sized stores aren’t different from other clothing stores in this respect. The largest expenses are remodeling a space, paying for a space and purchasing inventory.
Business owners who want to keep their start-up costs as low as possible should look for a low-rent commercial space and specialize in a particular type of plus size clothing. Specializing in a particular type of clothing will reduce how much inventory a business needs to carry. It’ll also attract customers who need the clothes the store specializes in -- even if the store’s in an out-of-the way location that’s less expensive to rent.
What are the ongoing expenses for a plus size clothing store?
The ongoing expenses of a plus size clothing business are significant but not unmanageable. They include rent, utilities, employees’ wages and the cost of new inventory.
Who is the target market?
Plus size clothing stores cater to women who don’t fit into the clothes offered at most clothing stores. As was mentioned before, stores that cater to men who don’t fit into the clothes offered at most clothing stores are usually referred to as “big and tall” stores rather than plus size stores.
How does a plus size clothing store make money?
Most of the clothes a plus size clothing store carries are sold individually, but it’s possible to also combine several articles into an outfit that’s sold together. When an outfit is sold, it’s typically sold at a lower price than what the pieces would cost if individually purchased. Perfectly Priscilla does this with the store’s PPB Styleboxes.
How much can you charge customers?
The clothing sold at a plus size clothing business may be priced anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars.
When opening a store, it’s important to determine what price range the store will focus on. Customers who are able to spend hundreds of dollars won’t want articles that cost only a few dollars, and those who are looking for bargains won’t have hundreds of dollars to spend.
How much profit can a plus size clothing store make?
How much a plus size clothing business can make depends on how many customers it attracts and what price point it sells clothes at. A busy store can have six- and even seven-figure annual revenues.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Many plus size clothing businesses sell online in addition to at a physical location. Creating a website involves a relatively small upfront investment, and an online presence lets a store reach customers worldwide.
Stores may also increase their profits by special ordering items. Women who are looking for a particular item may be willing to pay a premium to get exactly what they want in the right size.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your plus size clothing store is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Check out the Top Business Formation Services from our friends at StartupSavant.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Find the right bank for you, read our review of the Top 5 Banks for Your Small Business
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a plus size clothing business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
How to promote & market a plus size clothing store
Social media is an effective way to reach potential customers. People do a lot of shopping online, and targeted advertising campaigns let business owners reach women who likely want plus sized clothes. As an added benefit, many people will share clothing they like with friends and family on social platforms.
How to keep customers coming back
To keep customers returning, a plus size clothing business must carry clothes its customers like. Talking with customers is the best way to find out what they’re looking for. Their input should guide future inventory purchases.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Plus Size Clothing Store In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
While anyone may open a plus size clothing store, women who have personally had trouble finding properly sized clothing stores are especially well-suited for opening this type of business. They’ve experienced the troubles that their target market struggles with, so they’ll know how to best provide clothing solutions for their customers.
It also helps to be a people person. Some customers may be embarrassed by their size. Being able to make people feel comfortable with themselves will help customers open up about what clothes they’d like and enhance their shopping experiences.
What happens during a typical day at a plus size clothing store?
A typical day at a plus size clothing store involves serving customers and taking care of inventory. Business owners and employees spend a lot of time:
- Helping customers find clothes they like
- Ringing up customers once they’ve selected clothes
- Refolding clothes customers have taken off shelves or racks
- Stocking new inventory that comes in
- Changing displays that showcase the store’s clothes
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful plus size clothing store?
Successfully running a plus size clothing store requires a knowledge of fashion and of business. IAP Career College has an online Boutique Owner Certificate Course that covers many relevant topics. In addition to this course, there are many other resources on both fashion and business.
One of the best ways to learn about plus size fashion is by simply reading about it. There’s no shortage of things to read:
- The Curvy Fashionista is a rich website maintained by plus size designer Marie Denee
- Skorch Magazine is a plus size fashion magazine
- Dare is a Canadian plus size fashion magazine
- The Art of Dressing Curves is a highly recommended book on plus size fashion
What is the growth potential for a plus size clothing store?
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a plus size clothing store?
Raquel, who owns a clothing boutique, explains that having a vision for your clothing store is extremely important. A vision will help you with everything from store design to inventory selection, and it’ll make your store different from others in the area.
If you don’t have a well-designed vision, Raquel suggests looking through websites and magazines for things you like. Pictures of well-dressed women and displays will help you determine what to get and how to showcase it.
How and when to build a team
While it’s possible to run a plus size clothing store without any employees, most business owners hire a few employees from the outset. Having employees increases the hours a business can be open and lets a business owner focus on growing the store.