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How to Start a Vintage Boutique Business

Do you want to start a vintage boutique? If YES, here is a detailed guide on how to start a vintage boutique business with no money and no experience.

Starting a vintage boutique can be very exciting and lucrative if you follow the necessary procedures. For some, a full-time storefront with added vintage, retro, and mid-century modern items might fit the bill, while for others, an internet-only business might be the perfect niche.

Starting a vintage boutique can present an entirely different face than it did just ten years ago. We believe there are now a multitude of new sales options for dealers, not just on the internet, but also in the real world.

Note that this changing landscape within the marketplace has brought into focus the need for a truly comprehensive understanding of the forces that are at play within this industry.

You have to understand that it is no longer enough to just start a vintage boutique, pop up a website, add a blog, create an account on eBay, and hope to be successful.

Indeed there are many strategies to make your vintage boutique succeed, but knowing how to correctly apply these strategies into an overall framework for success is what counts. You have to be ever vigilant and flow with industry trends.

20 Steps to Starting a Vintage Boutique Business

1. Understand the Industry

You need to understand that a lot of vintage clothing has been previously worn, but a small percentage of pieces have not. These are often old warehouse stock, and they are more valuable than those that have been worn, especially if they have their original tags.

Referred to as deadstock or new old stock (NOS), they nevertheless sometimes have flaws. Vintage clothing may be either commercially produced or handmade by individuals. Due to changes in clothing sizes in the united states, vintage sizes are often smaller than the corresponding contemporary size. Vintage sewing patterns offer an option for those who want a historically accurate garment but cannot find one in their size.

Research has shown that the popular places to buy vintage clothing include, charity-run second hand clothing shops, consignment shops, garage sales, car boot sales, flea markets, antique markets, estate sales, auctions, vintage clothing shops and vintage fashion, textile or collectibles fairs.

We also believe that the advent of technology has greatly enlarged the pool of potential collectors; women with aesthetic discrimination and the money to collect, are able to enter the market.

Reports have shown that these potential collectors can now evaluate potential purchases, often more accurately than was possible in person at rare and hard-to-attend vintage clothing shows. Through electronic payment systems, collectors can purchase online more efficiently. Have it in mind that another contributing factor to the value of vintage clothing can also be its provenance.

Vintage clothing collectors like other collectors of history, value and record the background of an item: who wore it and to what occasion. We were able to note through detailed research that pre-1950s garments in good condition are becoming more difficult to find, and more expensive to procure due to growing demand.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

It’s very important to state that the value and popularity of collectible clothing has been on a steady increase for the past decade and this demand for outfits from the ’40s to the ’80s shows no signs of reducing. This is why starting and running a business that sells vintage duds from a retail storefront is a fantastic venture.

Have it in mind that you will have a lot of young people looking for hot retro fashions, but you can also do good business in costumes. Another thing is that Halloween will be a busy time for you.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

You need to understand that you have to be different for you to get a market share in this industry. What mood and image are you going to advertise and create for your boutique? You may want to specialize in name brands, designer clothes, stuff from a certain decade or group of decades, clothes that replicate looks from movie scenes, etc.

Note that the types of specialties and themes for your boutique are unlimited. We suggest you choose one that you are especially passionate about, because it is going to be your boutique.

The Level of Competition in the Industry

Reports have shown that vintage clothing can be said to collectibles which means it has value. Then the asset bought maintains an immediate monetary value even though values differ widely depending on era produced, demand, and other factors.

We believe that this asset may well appreciate, hopefully at a rate faster than inflation. Within the periods of high and/or rising inflation, hard assets (including collectibles) has the potential to outperform financial assets, which often reduce in value in the face of high inflation.

Have it in mind that the driving force during the price mark-up phase, when collectibles prices grow consistently over a period of years, is the level and direction of real interest rates. Reports have it that labour costs, then general inflation, have started to ginger up the industry.

In this modern era, collectibles and other hard assets should begin to outperform financial assets, as they did in the prior inflationary wave of 1973–1981. Immediately the tide starts to come in, the trend should continue for years, not just for weeks or months, if history is any guide.

Collectors of jewellery and vintage clothing can expect to have the wind at their backs in the years ahead. At that point vintage clothing will become an investment, and an asset. This is why the consumer has a right to know whether they are buying a reproduction or the real thing. And there can be no passing off the reproduction as the real thing, regardless of the language it is cloaked in.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

  • The Way we wore
  • Tarven
  • Golyester
  • Hidden treasures
  • Jet rag
  • Flounce Vintage
  • Juno says hello
Economic Analysis

Truthfully vintage boutiques and stores can be found jam-packed in college towns and artsy neighbourhoods. Different from thrift stores that sell both vintage and contemporary used clothing, vintage clothing shops are usually for-profit enterprises, with the market mixed between small chains and independent stores.

Reports have it that these stores typically range from 200 to 5,000 square feet in size, and will usually have a fitting room. Also apart from selling clothing and accessories, a lot of vintage clothing stores also buy clothing from the public in exchange for cash or store credit.

The rise of technology and the internet has been helpful to the vintage clothing industry. It has increased the availability of specific and hard-to-get items and opened up prospective markets for sellers around the world.

Have it in mind that this business offers past and present clothing at low prices. Vintage shopping can be viewed as a continuation of discount culture, while simultaneously achieving an individual identity and exclusivity that the brand names have lost.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

Due to the hope of a future big money buyout and an undeniable entrepreneurial impulse, most prospective entrepreneurs prefer to start a vintage boutique from the scratch. Have it in mind that a healthier and safer strategy may be to buy a franchise.

This is because vintage businesses have proven operations with dependable revenue streams. It will also offer you the ability to jump all of the trial-and-error that comes when you start from the scratch. Finance is always the key problem in this business.

One of the ways to avoid the financial risk of starting from the scratch is to modify your approach and tap into the financial benefits of buying an existing vintage clothing business. These businesses have reliable revenue streams and loyal customer bases, both of which will shape your company’s financial landscape.

Your ability and method to market your business is a deciding factor in your success. But have it in mind that franchise startups goes a long way to reduce the startup cycle, giving your business a fast track to profit and growth.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

It is always an interesting process to start and run a vintage boutique. This is a place where fashion lovers can buy clothes, shoes and all sort of children and vintage stuffs from. We also believe that this type of business needs a moderate capital to set up. The few challenges you may be facing may include;

  • Finance
  • Business plan
  • Niche
  • Marketing plan
  • Industry competition
  • Location

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

We believe that forming your business as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) makes sure your personal assets are protected in the event your business is taken to court. Note that the benefits of forming an LLC are that the members are afforded limited liability and have pass-through taxes similar to a partnership.

If you choose an LLC instead of a corporation as your vintage boutique legal entity, you get all the advantages of forming a corporation but you avoid a few drawbacks that you would run into if you formed a corporation. But if you decide to form a corporation, you pin yourself to double taxation and excessive paperwork. Both of those annoyances can be avoided if you form an LLC.

We believe that the funds needed to form an LLC will differ from State to State. We estimate it will need between $50 and $500 to form your LLC, and around $100 annually to maintain your LLC. These costs will increase if you hire a lawyer. The standard processing time is approximately two to three weeks. However, many states offer same-day or expedited LLC formation for an extra fee.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

  • Conquest stores
  • Bluestone Inc.
  • Green water Ltd
  • Vintage stores
  • Vintage Ventures

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

Insurance protects your business against lawsuits and financial losses resulting from a number of situations. You may think that you can avoid them but a customer can fall and injure themselves; property could become damaged or stolen, employees could become injured or sick. Below is the list of insurance needed for a vintage boutique…

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

The creation, exploitation and protection of intellectual property (IP) rights are fundamental to the success of most retailers. In the retail industry, intellectual property protection and trademark are needed to serve as;

  • Copyright laws
  • Brand and image rights
  • Protection and registration of designs
  • Enforcement and dispute resolution
  • Anti-counterfeiting and piracy
  • Patents laws
  • Trade mark filing and opposition
  • Brand audits and watching services
  • Securing trademarks and passing off
  • Data and database rights
  • Competition law
  • Protection of technology and innovation
  • Advertising and marketing issues

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Professional certification is a process by which a person develops the knowledge, experience, and skills to perform a specific job. Once the individual completes a course of study, he or she receives a certificate earned by passing an exam that is accredited by an organization or association that monitors and upholds prescribed standards for the particular industry involved.

In this business, you will benefit from earning a retail certificate if you are planning to do this business successfully. These certifications include;

  • Customer Service and Sales Certification (CSCS)
  • Advanced Customer Service and Sales Certification (ACSSC)
  • Retail Management Certification (RMC)
  • Retail Business Credential (RBC)

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

Indeed every license or legal document needs time, energy and paperwork to get. But no matter how annoying it becomes, don’t risk your business shutting down before it fully begins. Starting and running a business without proper licensing is a criminal offense in some states, while others hand out hefty fines. Here are some legal documents needed for a vintage boutique…

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Just like we stated above, funding is a must have to survive the heat of this industry. This is why you need to identify potential sources of funding, make sure you meet all their requirements, and prepare your applications or pitches to be able to land funding to grow your retail business.

The vintage boutique business just like all other businesses need adequate funding to succeed. Sources of fund may include;

  • Family loans
  • Community schemes
  • Peer-to-peer loans
  • Micro loans
  • Crowdfunding
  • angel investors
  • Factoring
  • Asset-based lending
  • Cash advances
  • Bank overdrafts

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

As you decide the best location for your boutique, we advise you don’t let the lure of low rent tempt you into a lease deal because it can kill your business before it ever gets off the ground. But beware not to let a higher lease or rent payment scare you.

If a location truly offers prime foot-traffic, walk-ins and easy access for your customers, it may be well worth the investment. Have it in mind that your lease is simply part of your overall marketing spending to get people in the door. Instead of going solely by price, here are three important factors to consider when choosing a suitable location for your vintage boutique.

  • Will the space meet your customer’s need?

You have to consider what your target buyer looks like? What do they do? Where do they live, work and play? Then create a space that’s easy to see and get to. In choosing a location, you need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and decide what fits in and what doesn’t.

  • Making rules

Before you decide on your location, be very familiar with local laws, zoning ordinances and potential highway or shopping centre construction that might affect you. Put into consideration rules that might inhibit you on everything from signage to your ability to hold special events to operating during certain hours. We believe that the best way to get these questions answered is to get as much information as possible.

  • As a Marketing tool

One unique way to attract new customer is advertising. A suitable location can serve as a marketing tool, so that you can use what could have been outside marketing or advertising money to fund internal rewards and referral programs. Every person who enters your boutique on the basis of location becomes a potential long-term member.

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

Satisfaction and convenience is very necessary when starting up and running a retail shop. When possible it is crucial that your customers are supplied with the right accessories to satisfy them in their purchasing process. The general retail industry always gets impatient and frustrated when they have trouble getting served.

Even if they buy something, they may leave dissatisfied with the quality of service they received. This means that shopping baskets, trolleys and carrier bags that enable them to explore your shop and pick up the things they need should always be available for everyone entering your vintage boutique.

If you’re starting small, don’t overspend on lots of stock that you’re not sure will sell. Focusing on a niche will make this easier and allow you to carry more items that you can be more confident in selling.

We also suggest you employ workers with good interpersonal skills, excellent communication skills and customer based approach to business. You will also need to buy the equipment you will need for your vintage business. A vintage boutique just like any other retail business will need a similar type of equipment, and they may include;

  • Shelves
  • Clothing Racks
  • Hangers
  • Point-of-Sale Solution
  • Cash Register
  • Pricing Gun
  • Bags
  • Display Cases
  • Rotating Racks
  • Mannequins
  • Specialty Displays
  • Stickers
  • Gift wrapping Supplies
  • Receipt Paper or Printer
  • Shopping Carts or Baskets
  • Banners or Flags
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Website
  • Social Media Presence
  • eCommerce Site
  • Shipping Materials
  • Shipping Account
  • Security System
The Services Delivery Process of the Business

It’s important you understand that you have some options, buy individual items from charity shops, vintage shops or markets. Note that you can choose specific pieces relevant to your shop, but this will end up being at a higher cost as you will not be able get a wholesale discount.

The alternative is to buy from a vintage wholesaler, minimum spends can vary between £100 and £500, however you will make significant savings on your stock costs giving you larger profits on your sales. Facts and information has shown that vintage boutiques perform a number of operational processes on a continual basis.

Have it in mind that the workflow of retail operational processes is fairly similar between different organizations, as companies have shared best practices and experiences over the years. You need to understand that the basic operational processes and workflow of a general retail store can help you to structure operations and lay a concrete foundation for your vintage boutique.

  • Buying Inventories

You have to take stock of the inventory that you have at hand, including goods on the shelf as well as inventory in storage areas. Customizing company procedures to suit personal management styles and the specific needs of their individual outlets, managers place orders with suppliers either on a regular basis or when they reach an optimum re-order point for a specific item to ensure their outlets are always fully stocked.

  • Taking care of inventory

Note that taking care of inventory is a part of everyone’s job in any retail store. Note that handling starts with receiving shipments, unpacking boxes, sorting received items, and disposing of boxes and packing materials. Store employees store new inventory items according to company policies — usually following the first in, first out rule — and restock inventory on the shelves whenever it is needed.

  • Customer service

The key purpose of a retail store is to provide an avenue for customers to view, handle and purchase items, which means all activities in a retail store definitely revolve around customer service.

This is why customer service in a retail store can be broken down into three categories: in-store assistance, transaction processing and handling complaints. First and foremost, in-store assistance is basically helping customers to locate what they are looking for without hassle.

While transactions processing is primarily ringing up transaction totals, accepting payments and packaging items for the customer to take home. Handling complaints includes dealing with product returns; short-change claims, potential issues arising between customers and store staff, and general dissatisfaction with the store’s service or products.

  • Accounting

It is pertinent that store managers send daily updates of sales numbers, refunds, lost inventory, hourly payroll data and information on bank deposits before the workflow cycle begins again the next day.

  • Storage

You will need to have the space to store your vintage clothing. If you don’t have spare room in your property, you could look at investing in a water tight shed/outhouse, or even look at renting a storage unit. We believe that the benefit of this is there are no business rates to pay and you can instantly scale up or down depending on the success of the business.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

One of the best forms of advertising is word-of-mouth so use your friends on social media to help spread the word and try local Facebook groups to showcase your products. Think about where your target market frequents both online and offline and focus your efforts in those areas.

If you are already in business and sales are slumping, consider changing your products or services to roll with the (hard) times. Below are few strategies to market your vintage boutique…

  • Marketing Collateral

Brochures, business cards, folders, direct mail pieces, and other types of promotional materials are called marketing collateral. It’s very important for a vintage boutique to make sure every piece of marketing reinforces your brand and value proposition. Try to gain the most impact from your strategies; it needs to be targeted toward its recipients.

When delivered to the wrong person, a valuable piece of collateral will collect dust. For direct mail campaigns, premium mailing lists from established vendors can protect the value of your investment. It doesn’t make sense to invest time and creativity in marketing collateral only to drop the ball on distribution.

  • Making use of Print Ads

This strategy have always been a popular way to boost your vintage boutique. In the digital age, print advertising’s influence has been under attack from new media technologies and an expanded range of marketing channels. Have it in mind that even though the internet has challenged the position print ads once held in marketing circles, you can still realize substantial gains from marketing your collectibles and vintage clothing retail business in print.

  • Marketing Consultants

A lot of entrepreneurs strive to justify the expense of a marketing consultant, especially if they don’t appreciate the role of marketing in their company’s long-term success. Even though professional marketing advice does represent an additional cost, it’s an expense that you will recover many times over through increased sales revenue.

We believe that the best consultants possess a range of skills, including the ability to accurately communicate your collectibles and vintage clothing retail business’ core competencies, value and product points. It will provide the expertise you need to identify the most productive marketing channels and raise your brand profile within the industry.

17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

Industry competition affects growth opportunities and reduces profitability. You have to understand and struggle to pass through the constant competition in the industry. Below are few strategies to win your competitors…

  • Understand the competition
  • Know your target audience
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors
  • Step up your marketing
  • Update your image
  • Look after your existing customers
  • Target new markets
  • Explore new markets
  • Be the best employer
  • Look at the future

18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

At every opportunity, try and make sure you get your customers’ email address. Whether it is online or offline this should be something you do with every customer. You can then notify your customers when you have new ranges in stock, have a sale etc. There are many ways to retain and maintain your customers and make them to always want to come back. These ways may include;

  • Satisfy your customers
  • Patronage discount and coupons
  • Loyalty and reward programs
  • Gamification
  • Help desks and support systems
  • Customer feedback survey
  • Light personalization

19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

Have it in that your brand awareness campaign has to be flexible enough to grow with the business and adjust if needed. Ways to promote brand awareness and create a corporate identity in the Vintage Boutique industry may include holding an event, exhibiting yourself, sponsor something, create an experiential stunt, take to social media, organize a public relation campaign, invest in promotional merchandise, join forces with other businesses etc.

We also suggest that you cement a good corporate identity through good brand awareness strategies with a little imagination and an understanding of your customer.