The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of March 2008, clothing stores are among the leading retailers visited by consumers. Many industries, including medical, pharmacy, fast food, janitorial and manufacturing, purchase uniforms for employees to wear while serving customers. Additionally, secondary schools, particularly at the private elementary and high school levels, require students to wear uniforms. By completing necessary applications and acquiring sufficient capital, you can start and operate a successful uniform retail store.
Get your Employee Identification Number (EIN). Fill out an EIN through the Internal Revenue Service (see resources). Remember that you can also apply for your EIN over the telephone by calling the Business & Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933.
Contact your state's department of revenue or taxation (see resources). Register to collect and file sales and use tax. Note that many states allow users to file forms and pay taxes directly through their website.
Write a business plan. Create a detailed business plan for your uniform retail store. Keep in mind that banks and other loan providers typically require you to submit a thorough business plan before they will approve lending you capital. Include the types of uniforms your store will sell. For example, you could sell industrial shirts and pants, coveralls, shop coats, executive vests and blazers, medical lab jackets or official school outfits. Note whether your store will ship orders. State whether your uniform retail shipping area is local, national or international. Identify the days and hours that your store will be open for operation. Take ample time to study the competition. Know the services, prices, clientele demographics, shipping options and physical locations for all uniform retail stores in your area. Create a concise marketing plan. Map out specific ways you will alert the media and the public about your business. For example, you could write and distribute monthly press releases to local media. Consider placing ads in magazines such as Uniforms Magazine, In Uniform Magazine and Uniform Market News. Include your annual line item budget as well as the amount of capital your business will start with. Note how you will raise any additionally needed capital. Refer to the Small Business Administration's "Writing a Business Plan" document in the resources section of this article to review sample business plans.
Raise capital and get insurance. Visit your bank. Submit loan applications. Think about getting an unsecured start-up business loan if you have excellent credit and are confident you will make all payment installments on time. Keep in mind that you can also apply for a loan through the Small Business Administration.
Speak with local insurance providers. Purchase property, casualty and liability insurance. Ask about employee related insurance such as worker's compensation, disability and unemployment to make sure you have enough insurance for your staff.
Contact your city's zoning code commission to request that an inspector come to your store and assess the property and ensure that it is in compliance with local zoning laws. Refer to the link titled "Licenses and Permits" in the resources section of this article for additional licenses and permits you may need.
Secure an optimum physical location. Contact a licensed and reputable real estate agent or broker. Study the area where you want to open your store. Look through directories such as Reals.com and Costar.com for available buildings in your area. Pick a location that is easy to reach from various sections of the city where you will be located in. Select a site close to businesses and schools you will service. Consider purchasing an existing empty retail store.
Build inventory. Purchase equipment such as single peg hooks, clothes-rack mega bars, uniforms, sign holders and stock displays. Keep in mind that you can contact companies such as Store Supply and Display Warehouse to purchase equipment and supplies at a discount.
Hire staff. Post job openings for cashiers, stock crew members and salespersons at job boards such as WorkinRetail.com and TheRetailJob.com. Post openings in the student-affairs office of colleges and your local newspaper. Offer high school students the opportunity to intern at your store during the summer.
Market and promote. Create a website for your store. Include pictures and video clips from your grand opening. Post your site's URL on message boards and discussion forums that focus on business, uniforms and retail. Include your URL on all correspondences and emails that you send. Consider joining your city's Better Business Bureau. Network and share the details about your store at bureau events. Attend events such as the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition; Retail Owner Institute and American Marketing Association conferences; and the National Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors seminars.
Rhonda Campbell is an entrepreneur, radio host and author. She has more than 17 years of business, human resources and project management experience and decades of book, newspaper, magazine, radio and business writing experience. Her works have appeared in leading periodicals like "Madame Noire," "Halogen TV," "The Network Journal," "Essence," "Your Church Magazine," "The Trenton Times," "Pittsburgh Quarterly" and "New Citizens Press."