Lingerie is used by most women every single day in one form or another, and many people like to purchase lingerie as gifts for their partners. This type of retail store has the potential to be quite profitable, due to the year-round demand for lingerie. There are several ways a lingerie business can be operated, as well a wide range of specialties a lingerie-store owner can focus on.
Choose between having a general lingerie store or targeting a niche. Examples of lingerie store niches include: exotic dance wear; plus-sized lingerie; staple lingerie such as bras, panties and pantyhose; vintage-style lingerie; provocative or risque lingerie; and bridal lingerie.
Obtain the business documentation required in your state to open a retail store. This may include an employer identification number (EIN), fictitious name certificate (DBA), resale permit or state tax identification number. Contact your local small business development center or Small Business Administration (SBA) office to see what you need.
Pick a venue to sell your lingerie. For instance, open a brick-and-mortar store, rent a mall space, lease a store in a shopping center, or open an online lingerie store. An online store is the cheapest and easiest option, and you can expand to a physical location once your lingerie business grows.
Make a list of wholesale lingerie manufacturers, brands and distributors, and contact them to establish a wholesale account. Websites such as Wholesale Central have contact information for many lingerie suppliers. You will likely be asked to provide your EIN, state tax identification or resale permit number to set up a wholesale account.
Purchase furnishings and fixtures for your retail store, such as racks, display tables, mannequins and cash registers. For selling online, buy a domain and e-commerce platform such as Core Commerce, PappaShops or Big Commerce. Such platforms already come with a built-in shopping cart, design templates, editing software and payment processing, making selling lingerie online easier.
Decorate your lingerie store to reflect your niche. For example, if you're selling risque lingerie, use a color scheme of black, cherry red and gold. Place black lace on your display tables and hang a crystal chandelier in your fitting-room area.
Develop a promotional plan for your lingerie store. For instance, if you're targeting exotic dancers, talk to local club owners about leaving fliers in the dancers' dressing rooms or offer exclusive coupons to dancers of specific clubs. If focusing on bridal lingerie, buy ads on popular wedding websites, forums and blogs.