How to Open a Florida Retail Store image by L. Shat from

As one of the most populous states in the United States, Florida is ideal for a retail store. There is a diverse group of potential customers with an average annual income of more than $50,000 a year, according to Enterprise Florida. To cash-in on this large pool of consumers, start your own Florida retail store.

Legal and Planning

Find your niche in the market. Review the services and products offered by established retailers. Where possible, review public financial statements and search for patterns in product sales. Search for weaknesses in the market. Based on your research, choose a product niche that give your business the most potential for success. Create a plan of action.

Name your business. Search the United States trademark database to make sure you don't choose a name that's already taken. Consider your products, your potential customers and longevity for your business when choosing a name. Some phrases could be popular in pop culture today, but may not survive a year from now.

Choose a legal entity for the business. If you are the only owner, its advisable that you register as a Limited Liability Corporation or become incorporated to alleviate your personal responsibility if something happens to one of your customers in your store.

Florida's Department of Revenue requires that you register with them to collect sales and use tax. Taxes are paid monthly and quarterly. In the book "How to Open a Financially Successful Specialty Retail & Gourmet Foods Shop," Sharon Fullen and Douglas Robert Brown write: "Sales tax is collected on the retail price paid by the end-user. You must present the wholesaler/distributor with your sales tax permit information when placing orders and sign a tax release card for their files."

Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you plan on hiring employees to help in the store. This is also called a Federal Tax Identification Number and is used to identify a business entity. Apply through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Purchase Workers' Compensation Insurance if you plan to employee four or more people. Contact an insurance agent licensed in the state of Florida. The Florida Association of Insurance agents (FAIA) can provide you with a list of qualified insurers.

Location, Products and Design

Find a location in a high-traffic area. Stores in high-traffic areas enjoy walk-in prospects and help reduce the cost of marketing and advertising. Attempt to lease space in shopping districts frequented by your target market.

Design the store with your target market in mind. Find contractors to renovate your leased building. In "Retail Business Kit For Dummies" Rick Segel writes "Shopping is transitioning from being an everyday necessity to a form of entertainment and the store that provides the best experience gets the most business."

Find wholesalers who specialize in your products. They'll be able to offer you better quality over a generic wholesaler. Ask other retailers for recommendations. Search the phone book and Internet for sources.

Create a policy and procedures manual for how you want your employees to handle your customers. Detail the transaction process and the return policy and procedures. Detail the day-to-day operations.

Hire employees with people skills. Report your new hires to the state. The Florida New Hire Reporting Center says "Federal and State law requires employers to report newly-hired and re-hired employees in Florida to the Florida New Hire Reporting Center. This site will provide you with information about reporting new hires, including reporting on line and other reporting options."

Store Marketing

Start telling people about your store a month before you open the doors. Create a plan of action to follow during the days before and days after opening.

Set up a website to help market the business. Hire a professional web and graphic designer. Add a catalogue on the site so that people can shop on line when they don't have the time to stop in your retail location.

Use email and social networking to help get the word out. Tell people about your store opening, your products and even offer special discounts for those who have received the email.

Print frequent shopper cards. Request your graphic designer to create a card design that matches your website's design elements.

Advertise in the local newspapers. Print colorful ads that display your best products. Send out a press release announcing your grand opening.


About the Author

Sam Williams has been a marketing specialist and ad writer since 1995. He has been published in magazines such as "Reaching Out" and "Spa Search." He served in various sales and marketing positions with major corporations such as American Express, Home Depot and Wells Fargo. Williams studied English at Morehouse College.

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