Starting any retail clothing store can be a challenge, but the rewards for a hard-working entrepreneur are well worth any difficulties that arise. If you plan to go into the business of bridal gowns, you can expect the daily excitement of working with brides-to-be as they search for and find the perfect gown for a day they have probably dreamed of for years. Getting ready to start a bridal dress retail store takes time and careful preparation, but the planning will help to ensure success and ongoing profits as a business owner.
Design a business plan. A bridal dress retail store can be anything from a small boutique that stocks several brands to a large store that carries virtually everything a bride would need. Decide if you'll specialize in certain name brands and price ranges or if you'll carry a variety of brands and price ranges. Keep the the demographics of brides in your area in mind. For example, if your store is in an affluent area, then carrying high-end gowns and accessories may better cater to the needs of the audience.
Select a retail space that fits your budget and your business needs. Keep in mind that location is always an important factor in selecting a retail space for a bridal shop. You'll need floor space for gown racks and at least one dressing room area with a large mirror for brides and bridal parties to try on dresses. Consider locating your store in a shopping center or shopping mall that already contains other (non-bridal) retail shops, as this will automatically make your shop a destination for shoppers.
Develop contacts with bridal gown distributors. Become familiar with the companies that produce and distribute bridal gowns, and begin forging contacts. A retail bridal dress store will need to acquire its gowns at a cost that makes it possible to sell them for a profit, so you will have to establish the contacts and create agreements for purchasing and selling the merchandise.
Hire one or more staff members to handle in-house alteration of gowns, if you do not have the skills. All bridal gowns have to be altered, and by offering the alterations in-house, you provide an essential service that can be factored into your costs as a store and can save the bride a trip elsewhere.
Consider offering a catalog service, so that brides can special order the gown they want if you do not carry it. This will ensure that you do not miss a sale because you do not have in stock the gown a bride might want.