How to Set Up a Retail Store

clothes shop image by Radu Razvan from

The majority of retail stores are small when it comes to the volumn of sales and size of the shop, especially when compared to the bigger stores you see in malls. Usually, a clothing store is run by just the owner or just a few employees.

Some things to ask yourself before going into this business are: Do you have retail experience? Is the area in which you’re specializing crowded, or is it controlled by a small number of stores? Do you have an advantage over other stores? What sets you apart?

Determine the kind of retail store you want to open. A few types to choose from are store retailing, specialty retailing and selling on the Internet. Store retailing includes small, independent shops, convenience stores, department stores and national chains. In specialty retailing, stores carry what consumers want as opposed to what they need. These stores concentrate on the shopping experience and have merchandise that their target market most desires. The web has altered the retail shopping experience, and it links businesses and potential customers.

Discover your business type and the requirements. After choosing a name for your store, visit your state’s division of corporations website and register it. You will also need to choose an entity for your business: sole proprietorship, S-corp, partnership, corporation, limited liability corporation, limited liability partnership or non-profit corporation. Each of them have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to taxes and liability.

Next, you will need to get an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS (you can do this on the IRS website: Other licenses and insurance you will have to obtain depend on your state, county and city regulations. At the very least, you have to have an occupational license and insurance for your business.

Find a location. If you want to work from home, you can sell your merchandise at tables or stands at craft fairs or in joint booth areas at expositions or flea markets. You can also sell your items on the Internet. However, a brick-and-mortar location may be your best bet. When it comes to choosing a location, you need to make sure it’s within your budget, is visible to the public and that you agree with the lease terms. Additionally, be sure that your store is near your target market, if you can.

Select inventory and pricing. The products you carry will differentiate your store from others like it. When purchasing your inventory, seek out local wholesalers; this will help keep your expenses down because of the lower shipping rates. If, however, you can’t find certain items you need locally, you may have to find them elsewhere. Be sure to buy enough product so the store stays stocked for about two weeks. When you start making more money, you can modify how much inventory you buy.

Marketing your business. Some methods of advertising include hosting a grand opening celebration where you supply refreshments, prizes and other entertainment. Create buzz about your store and use media as much as possible. Whenever you have a special event or sale, let your local media know by distributing a press release. This allows more people to find out about your business. Create a website. Here you can post information about the store, you and your employees, offer discounts and let everyone know about any sales or events. Always provide good customer service as this leads to more word-of-mouth advertising.


If you plan to employ individuals, be sure that they have sales skills and good personalities. Additionally, you’ll want people who are honest and trustworthy.


  • If you plan to employ individuals, be sure that they have sales skills and good personalities. Additionally, you'll want people who are honest and trustworthy.


About the Author

Jamie Fleming is a freelance writer based in Georgia. She has a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication and has five years of writing experience. Her work has appeared in publications like "The Savvy Gal" and "Young Money." She is also a writer for Chic Star Entertainment and Mahogany Butterfly.

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