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.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
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 much can you charge customers?
- 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 important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Plus Size Clothing Store Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your plus size clothing store is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
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?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
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.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
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: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
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.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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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: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
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.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
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.