How to Start a Small Fabric & Sewing Accessories Store

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Starting any small business is a challenge and a gamble. To open a fabric and sewing accessories shop requires a definite knowledge of the product lines. You also need to honestly assess the economic viability of your shop for the geographic area in which you wish to locate.

Things You'll Need

  • Money
  • Business plan
  • Suppliers
  • Place to conduct business
  • Employees
  • Organize your business plan. Be very specific about finances and inventory planning if you need to work with a bank to acquire financing. Using personal assets will give you more freedom of planning in the early stages, but will put your personal financial well-being at risk.

  • Set a budget and stay with it. Take into account costs for inventory, place of business, utilities, insurance, pay for employees, any loan payments, advertising and initial set-up costs for shelving and store fixtures. Have a good idea of where you want to go with your business and how you want to get there. Try to plan for four to five years with set goals for each year as far as earnings and costs are concerned. If you don't have a good understanding of business finances find a reliable accountant and add them to the roster of employees required.

  • Decide on the store inventory. Set a certain amount aside for use in acquiring inventory, and do not deviate. Be familiar with the real cost of goods by contacting suppliers and talking with other shop owners in the same field. Know the needs of your potential customers and buy with the intention of turning over your inventory at least every year.

  • Be aware of any new stock becoming available and determine whether it would be an asset to your shop from the beginning or should wait until you are established and stable. It is easy to make additions, but not so easy to make up for a poor decision on inventory. Money tied up in inventory is not money in the bank.

  • Open your business bank account and acquire a credit card for the business. Do not use the credit card for purchasing inventory, but for traveling expenses if you go to trade shows or start vending at textile shows.

  • Find a place to conduct business. Be aware of the amount of floor space available, how the traffic flows around the building, what type of access is available to you, delivery personnel, and your potential customers. Find out rent, utilities costs for the proposed site and insurance costs. Your insurance must cover not only your inventory and potential injury to yourself or employees but also any harm which may come to customers while they are on the premises.

  • Begin ordering with suppliers. This is a big commitment, because they will require a large sum of money from you prior to making any deliveries. Secure your chosen place of business and prepare the building. Place shelving and displays so that they are visible and show the products well. Take care when placing these items so that you will have a good flow pattern for your customers to move through. Position your check-out area and register in a place where the entire store will be visible. Position any security devices that have been determined to be necessary.

  • Stock your shelves and display areas with product. Contact advertisers to announce your store and to give the hours of business to the public. Hire your employees, although many small businesses are a sole proprietorship and are completely run by the owner for the first few years.

Tips & Warnings

  • Have making money as your main goal, but maintain a high standard of customer service.
  • Dress as a professional. If you dress well, people will take you seriously and know that you take your business seriously.
  • Stick to your business plan even if things begin well.
  • Most fabric shops take up to five years before they turn a profit. Expect to lose money for at least the first two to three years and prepare your financing to accommodate this. Pay your bills on time.
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