How to Open a Men's Retail Store

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Opening a retail store that sells products for men can be a significant undertaking without the proper plans and capital. There are several business models for opening up such a shop. Some involve large capital investments while others can be done without going too far into debt. Which model you choose and how well you plan your venture will determine how successful your store will be, especially your first few months. The following article will help you.

Things You'll Need

  • Business plan
  • Proper retail space
  • Experienced staff
  • Capital
  • Decide what to sell. A retail store specializing in products for men could cover an extremely large spectrum of items such as clothing accessories, shoes, jewelery, business-related items and more. Research other men's stores in your area. Examine their inventory and prices. This will give you an idea about what you will be competing against. Look for items that the other stores don't carry. For example, you may wish to carry men's hats as your main product as other stores fail to stock them. Start small and sell products you can make good margins on, and don't try to compete on merchandise you can't get good buys on.

  • Write a business plan. A business plan will help you map out your venture. It should include a list of your assets and liquid capital, market research, marketing plan and comprehensive budget information. Your goals should be proactive. Include realistic projections that allow you to safely open your doors and operate your business successfully for the first 3 to 5 years. You will need a solid business plan if you are seeking financing or investors. If you are unfamiliar with how to write business plans, contact a CPA or marketing firm for help.
    Organizations such as Service Organization of Retired Executives (SCORE) can also help you write an effective business plan and give you other helpful tips (see Resources below).

  • Form your business. Form a corporation or LLC. This will allow you to protect your personal assets and operate your business as an official, separate entity. As an official business, it will also make it easier to raise capital or obtain financing from a bank (see Resources below).

  • Raise capital. You will need money to start. Depending on the size of your operation, you must have enough capital to lease retail space, stock and furnish your store, and outfit your operation with a cash register, phone system and at least one computer. You will also need to hire a staff. The easiest way to raise capital is to solicit investors or partners. This will prevent you from going too far into debt. If you can't find partners, contact the Small Business Administration (SBA) and inquire about a small business loan (see Resources below). You may also contact local, state and federal governments about grants or meet with a commercial banker for financing. Regardless of where you seek capital, you must present a strong business plan.

  • Find retail space. Look for areas of high traffic in a relatively nice area of town. Strip malls, indoor shopping malls and bustling retail parks are ideal for a men's store. Your location will be the most important part of your business model. It is, therefore, wise to contact an experienced real estate agent to represent you.

  • Get a permit. Depending on your city and state guidelines, you may need a permit or business license to operate as a retailer. You may also be required to register your business with your city's tax office. Contact your city and state governments to obtain the proper permits.

  • Hire a staff. If you are starting out small, a staff of two or three people with retail experience will suffice. To get the right people, run classified ads in your local newspaper or simply recruit people from other retail stores who might be willing to work for a new store part-time, as long there isn't a conflict of interest. Online employment searches are also effective (see Resources below).

  • Set up your store. You will need display cases, shelving and a Point of Sale (POS) cash register properly loaded with prices and sales tax information. To start, scour resale shops and thrift stores for shelving and lightly used equipment. Approaching stores going out of business or relocating is also a good way to find inexpensive, quality equipment. There are also wholesalers operating online selling in furniture, shelving, computers and cash registers (see Resources below).

  • Promote your store. A grand opening is great way to get your name out as the new men's store in town. Send out press releases and invitations at least 1 month in advance to get proper news coverage. Contact news editors directly. Network with as many people as possible. Frequenting events hosted by your local Chamber of Commerce and other groups are great ways to make other professionals aware of your store.
    Distribute fliers to members private men's clubs in your area, or anywhere men commonly frequent.
    Print, radio and television ads, although pricey, are effective and can be subsidized by wholesalers and manufacturers of your products through co-op dollars.

Tips & Warnings

  • Hire an experienced staff. Retail success requires solid customer service skills, professionalism and merchandising experience. If you can't find people with experience, train them thoroughly before allowing them to work independently. Start small. Don't expand or add products until you've made consistent profits for at least 1 year. Buy inventory wisely. Don't buy more than you can sell. Being overstocked is often the reason retail businesses fail within the first year. Keep only enough inventory to meet your goals for the first 6 months. Be competitive. Thoroughly research your market and competition before pricing merchandise. This will help you determine what your market can bear and prevent you from gouging your customers or selling products to cheaply. Consider a franchise. There are many franchise opportunities out there that can be run quite simply by following its model. This may be a good option if you have limited retail experience. Franchises usually, however, require sizable capital investments.
  • Never operate without permits or licenses. Always make sales tax payments on time to avoid penalty. Rent or lease first. Building your own free-standing store in the beginning could eat up your capital and put you too far into debt, preventing you from operating profitably for the first few years.

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