How to Start a Vintage Maps Store

The vintage maps businesses is a niche market of collectibles, including old, historic, rare, unusual and one-of-a-kind maps. Some vintage maps business owners start out as hobbyists and then go on to establish galleries that house large collections of vintage maps.
Common types of vintage maps include star maps, antique railway and road strip maps, military battle maps and celestial maps. Geographical vintage maps cover all categories, such as archipelagos, world oceans and groups of islands.

You may also be interested in additional unique business ideas.

Learn how to start your own Vintage Maps Store and whether it is the right fit for you.

Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.

Start a vintage maps store by following these 10 steps:

  1. Plan your Vintage Maps Store
  2. Form your Vintage Maps Store into a Legal Entity
  3. Register your Vintage Maps Store for Taxes
  4. Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
  5. Set up Accounting for your Vintage Maps Store
  6. Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Vintage Maps Store
  7. Get Vintage Maps Store Insurance
  8. Define your Vintage Maps Store Brand
  9. Create your Vintage Maps Store Website
  10. Set up your Business Phone System

We have put together this simple guide to starting your vintage maps store. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.

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:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

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 Vintage Maps Store Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

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.

Want some help naming your vintage maps store?

Business Name Generator

What are the costs involved in opening a vintage maps store?

If you’re considering storefront for your vintage maps business, you’ll have the cost of monthly rent. If you go with a website, the cost is much lower. You can have a nice website created for under $200 or even make one on your own. The cost of inventory varies depending on how big you want to go. You can start with a collection that costs less than $2,000 to get started.

What are the ongoing expenses for a vintage maps store?

Ongoing costs for a vintage maps business include inventory, employee wages, rent, website maintenance, bookkeeping expenses and advertising. These are really costs that never go away. If you're renting a storefront, monthly rental costs can range from $650 to $1,200 per month. To have a website created will range anywhere from $200+.

Who is the target market?

The preferred client/customer types for vintage maps include collectors, decorators, and homeowners. Collectors are always on the hunt for that diamond in the rough. Decorators are always looking for interesting items to decorate homes and offices. Individual homeowners may feel a special connection to a part of the world—whether it is somewhere they have travelled, or the former home of their ancestors—and wish to have a map of that area in their home.

How does a vintage maps store make money?

Vintage maps store owners make money in a variety of ways. Some operate online stores, offering individual collectors the opportunity to sell their vintage maps on consignment on the website, and then splitting the profit according to a predetermined ratio.

Other store owners may purchase large collections from collectors and sell each vintage map individually to garner a greater profit.

How much can you charge customers?

The answer to this question is as much as the market will bear. Of course, it has to be fair. But you’ll want your markup to be at least 50 percent of the cost.

How much profit can a vintage maps store make?

Profit really depends on business acumen. If you know how to price your goods and run your business efficiently, the sky is really the limit. Some vintage maps business owners make a minimum of around $20,000 per year, while others who operate full time earn $75,000+.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Cutting ongoing expenses is one way to make your business more profitable. You may find that your business would work better as an online store, instead of operating out of a physical storefront. It’s also wise to sharpen your negotiation skills when it comes to buying inventory.

Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your vintage maps store is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

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 through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?

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.

Open a business bank account

Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.

Get a business credit card

Getting a business credit card helps you:

  • Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.

Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.

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.

Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.

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 vintage maps 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, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

Certificate of Occupancy

A vintage maps store can be run out of a storefront. 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 storefront:
    • 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 vintage maps store.
    • 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 storefront:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for you business’ location to ensure your vintage maps store will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

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.

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.

FInd out what types of insurance your Vintage Maps Store needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Vintage Maps Store.

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.

Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.

If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.

How to promote & market a vintage maps store

Get the word out about your vintage maps business by attending business fairs, flea markets and joining your local chamber of commerce. Developing strong relationships with trade buyers, collectors and museums is another way to promote your business and bring in new customers.

How to keep customers coming back

Establish yourself as an expert in the niche of vintage maps and develop credibility. Keep customers engaged through emails, promotions and articles on hot topics within your niche. Be the go-to person when it comes to vintage maps.

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.

Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.

Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.

STEP 10: Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.

Recommended Business Phone Service: is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.

Is this Business Right For You?

One of the keys to any successful business is to choose one that you’re passionate about. You should really have a love of history and heritage of old maps when considering opening a vintage maps store. There’s an awful lot to learn about antique maps, and it’s a business that is well suited for amateur collectors of maps. An amateur collector will have a base knowledge of different types of antiques maps, such as celestial maps and geological maps. An amateur collector will also have knowledge of how to price vintage maps, considering rarity, age, size, condition, historical importance and decorative value. It’s also important for a vintage maps store owner to know special requirements for framing and storing vintage maps.

Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

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What happens during a typical day at a vintage maps store?

Many vintage maps store owners spend their day buying and selling a variety of vintage maps. Most have connections with other map dealers and purchase their vintage maps or purchase vintage maps from individual sellers. Vintage maps store owners also inquire about other map businesses selling collections of maps of antiquity. Day-to-day activities usually include making phone calls to these resources, researching marketing opportunities, pricing inventory, and preparing orders for shipment. Some vintage maps store owners also provide map repair, map conservation and map restoration.

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

Like any other business, there are some essential skills to build a successful vintage maps business. Organization, sales ability and problem resolution are the key three. You need to take time to look at business locations, keep track of vendors, put together an advertising plan and make sure financing is in place. Being able to be a good salesperson is also essential. Make sure you have a well-prepared sales pitch that is persuasive. Most of all, know accurate and specific information about the maps that you’re trying to sell, and tailor it in a manner that makes sense to your potential buyer.

What is the growth potential for a vintage maps store?

The growth potential for a vintage maps business is positive, as accessibility is shrinking. In addition, vintage maps store owners can add adjunct services, such as framing, cleaning and restoration.

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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.

Learn from other business owners

Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.

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:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

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 vintage maps store?

If you’re opening a storefront, research the ancestry of your local community. Many people take an interest in genealogy in their later years, and you could bring in a lot of customers by selling antique maps specific to the regions of their ancestral homeland.

How and when to build a team

It’s time to build a team when you start to grow. Hire salespeople to manage business and sales. Just be sure to both educate and train them. You can also build a team of appraisers and framers if need be.

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