How to Start a Bathing Suit Store

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Selling bathing suits is a fun way to prep others for summertime.
Selling bathing suits is a fun way to prep others for summertime. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

If you are considering selling your own bathing suits and swimwear, opening your own store has likely crossed your mind. For ventures like this, you must start out both educated and prepared. You can open an online store or a physical store depending on your needs, goals and location. Either one requires some planning and business sense as well as a sense of creative expression to catch a shopper's eye and turn her into a buyer.

Things You'll Need

  • Federal Tax ID (EIN) number
  • Physical or online location
  • Bathing suit merchandise
  • Display rack
  • In-store advertising
  • Staff members

Choose a name for your bathing suit store that makes a splash with customers and attracts the target market you are seeking. Establish a separate business entity for your bathing suit store by applying for a tax ID number, known as an EIN, from the Internal Revenue Service. Use your EIN to open a checking account for your business. You will also need to register and license your business in the state it will be operating in, and this can be done on your state's Secretary of State website. Fees for business licenses and registration vary from state to state and can also be different for C-corporations, S-corporations, limited liability partnerships and sole proprietorships. Research your state's sales tax requirements so that you say in compliance.

Find a suitable location for your physical bathing suit store. Ideally, you want to be in a place where people will already be heading to do summer shopping or seasonal vacationing. Lease a physical location in or near a mall, sporting goods store or camping goods store. For tight budgets, consider a mall kiosk. Mall kiosks can be ideal for seasonal goods. If you are opening a store that will only exist online, hire a web designer to create a website that is both functional and eye-catching.

Acquire the supplies your physical store will need, including fixtures, display racks and the like. You can order new ones online through websites such as StoreSupply.com, SLStoreDisplays.com or BargainStoreEquipment.com. Shop around to find the best prices for your business budget. Consider purchasing used equipment found in your newspaper's classified section or at stores in your area that are going out of business. Hire reliable staff members to help you set up the store and run it once it is open.

Order the merchandise for your store. Order in bulk from your favorite designers or wholesalers like SwimBay.com, UJenaWholesale.com, or FashionEverywear.com. Arrange for photo shoots of your best bathing suits with professional models and photographers, and use the photos for in-store advertising, flier ads and coupons. Your photos should feature models that represent the customers you are targeting: women, teens, men or plus-sized. It is vital for online stores to advertise anywhere on the Internet that fits into their business budget (including Google and Facebook). Use location-specific advertising for your physical store such as local radio ads, television commercials and billboards.

Tips & Warnings

  • Write a business plan before you get started on the store-opening process. This will give you a clear picture of how much you will need to do in sales to keep your business afloat, how much money you will need to invest upfront, and if a physical store is a better investment for you than an online store. Network with other swimwear store owners to gather insights on how to run your business. Also, grand-opening sales, weekly specials and coupon mailers can help your physical store grow its customer base. The same holds true for stores that are only online; the only difference is that you will need to collect customers' email addresses to send them the details on any specials.
  • Since swimwear is a seasonal item and most leases are signed for a year or more, you will need to have plans for clearance sales or the sale of other items during the colder months of the year.

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