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Women who have trouble fitting into garments at traditional clothing stores still have the same desires as women who do fit into those clothes. They want to feel beautiful, sexy, and comfortable in the clothes they wear. A plus size clothing business caters to these women by selling fashionable clothes in their sizes. While most plus size clothing stores cater to the needs of plus size women, some men’s plus size clothing stores, more commonly referred to as “big & tall” stores, are popular among larger men. However, this article will focus on plus size clothing stores for women’s clothing.
Who is this business right for?
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 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.
What is the growth potential for a plus size clothing store?
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 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 steps to start a plus size clothing store?
Once you're ready to start your plus size clothing store, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your plus size clothing store is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your plus size clothing store keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- 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.
- 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.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- 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.
- Establish a 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. Save 15% when you create a business website with Weebly.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I 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.
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 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.
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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.
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.
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.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.