Business Overview


While a shoe store can exist alongside a main department store, most are independent. Shoes stores sell shoes, sandals, boots, and similar products. They can also sell shoe cleaners, socks, laces, and other accessories. Shoe stores operate with set prices, giving customers a great selection of products at affordable prices.

Who is this business right for?

The shoe business is great for anyone who loves fashion. Retail experience helps, as does an appreciation for shoes and apparel. Those who like accessories, like purses and jewelry, may find the shoe business to be exciting as well.

A successful shoe store operator will need to be good with pricing, marketing, and management. They should also have a good eye for designer and discount shoes. By focusing on a niche, like athletic apparel, a shoe store owner can have a lot of success.

What happens during a typical day at a shoe store?

A shoe store owner stocks, promotes, and sells shoes. As a retail operator, a shoe store owner needs to prep stock, clean the store, manage employees, and market his or her products. Typically, a shoe store owner helps customers find their preferred products. A lot of shoe store employees are skilled in figuring out a customer’s size, too.

From the administrative end of things, a shoe store owner will conduct transactions, work on marketing campaigns, manage expenses, and try to boost the store’s profits as much as possible. A lot of shoe stores extend into the world of e-commerce, so having Internet expertise is certainly beneficial.

What is the target market?

The best customers are return shoppers. Because shoes aren’t purchased often, every impression counts. Shoe store shoppers may come and go, but those with a love of boots, athletic shoes, or shoe care products can be very profitable.

It’s a good idea to extend discount services to other stores. Often, shoe stores will use “pull marketing” tactics, gaining return customers from other clothing stores.

How does a shoe store make money?

Shoe stores make money by selling shoes, shoe accessories, shoe care products, and other items. Some shoe stores may offer shoe cleaning services, though such services are pretty rare.

What is the growth potential for a shoe store?

Shoe stores have a lot of growth potential, as local providers. Because the market for high-fashion shoes is open, a shoe store can even become a multi-national provider if they offer rare, interesting, or incredibly reliable shoes.

At some point, however, shoe store owners will need to differentiate themselves from the competition. It’ll pay off to either specialize in a particular type of shoe or to offer an incredibly diverse stock.

Getting Started


What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful shoe store?

Successful shoe store owners have a keen eye for marketing. They’re also good at acquiring wholesale shoes at competitive prices. The business values of paying bills on time, following by a shoe brand’s rules and following industry regulations counts. From all angles, shoe selling can be a complex job to undertake.

What are the costs involved in opening a shoe store?

A shoe store’s startup costs can be hefty. Expect to pay about $10,000 in initial franchising fees. Grand opening marketing can cost about $5,000, and initial inventory can cost as much as $50,000 for a smaller shop.

A lot of these expenses are high because shoes can cost a lot of money. You should plan to have about $2,500 on hand for insurance startup costs. On the high end, a shoe store’s overall costs can reach $200,000 when utility deposits, professional fees, computer systems, and business licenses are considered.

What are the steps to start a shoe store?

Once you're ready to start your shoe store, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:

  1. 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.
  2. Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your shoe store is sued.
  3. Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
  4. Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your shoe store keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
  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.
  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.
  7. 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.
  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.
  9. 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.

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.

Recommended: Fizzle.co offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for for free.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a shoe store?

Start by being an independent seller. Working with other brands can be difficult for beginning shoe stores. If possible, enter into the e-commerce market. Your store’s reputation will grow, too, if it isn’t in an oversaturated area. If you face a lot of Big Box competition, enter the boutique market and offer special, high-price shoe selections.

Growing Your Business


How to promote & market a shoe store

Market online. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the best realms for clothing and shoe sellers. Offer discounts, and attract new customers via an e-commerce platform. If you’re operating out of a shopping strip, make sure local fashion sellers are aware of your location. Network with them, and exchange customers when possible.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

Customers, by and large, will be attracted by your products. Your store’s reputation will grow if it offers well-priced, reliable shoes. To retain customers, you’ll need to incentivize return visits. Shoe shopping is a rare occurrence, so you’ll need to be independent of your competition.

How and when to build a team

Build a team immediately. Starting shoe stores should be operated by at least two to three employees. By having a team—even a small one—you can make sure your store’s operations are handled with care. Shoe stores with long histories often thrive, but they thrive upon having incredibly capable employees. When managing a shop, make sure you’re focusing on customer engagement. Shoe shopping can be a long, drawn-out process, so employees should work to fulfill the buyer’s journey while ensuring as many sales as possible.

Legal Considerations


State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a shoe store. 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, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Certificate of Occupancy

A shoe store is generally run out of a warehouse or factory. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.

  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a clothing line business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your store will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

Reduce Personal Liability

Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC) ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.

What is an LLC?

Form an LLC in 5 easy steps

Earning Potential


How much can you charge customers?

Customers can be charged as little as $10 for a pair of nice laces to $400 for a pair of nice boots. Average shoes cost about $70, though prices vary greatly.

What are the ongoing expenses for a shoe store?

Expect to pay about $2,000 per month for rent. Monthly utilities will be about $300. As a shoe store owner, you’ll need to pay your employees between $8 and $20 per hour, depending on their position. If you’ve hired an IT team, expect to pay as much as $30 per hour for skilled labor. Additional costs include marketing fees, which cost about one percent of your yearly net sales and consistent inventory costs—which can be as much as $75,000 per year.

How much profit can a shoe store make?

An average shoe store makes about $851,076 in sales, yielding a profit of about $127,363 for the owner. Shoe stores offer a big return on investment, sitting at about 46.1 percent. As a shoe store owner, you’ll need to manage your stock and pricing to ensure high profits.

How can you make your business more profitable?

It pays off to diversify or specialize. When starting a shoe store business, research popular brands. Once you’ve achieved some popularity, make sure your customers go to you for preferred shoes. You can specialize in selling boots, for example, or athletic shoes.

You should also start an online store. E-commerce is incredibly effective, and the most successful shoe stores have online buying portals. Prioritize customer service, and make shipping affordable. You can greatly increase your profits by expanding into a digital market. If you’re really good at e-commerce, you can even make an entirely online store.

Next Steps

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