The booming population of Atlanta and the bustling tourist activity in Savannah, are a couple of good good reasons for entrepreneurs to open a boutique in Georgia. The U.S. Census Bureau has tracked an 18 percent growth in population in Georgia between 2000 and 2010, making it a ripe environment for retail. The Census also lists $12,326 in annual per capita retail sales. Getting set up means finding a storefront, gathering inventory and becoming licensed through the Georgia Secretary of State.
Pick a specialty. Many boutiques carry lines of handbags, sunglasses or skirts. Some sell T-shirts made by local artists. Reach out to the local Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Ports Authority (see resources) to connect with importers who can help you build an inventory.
Pick a location. Consider areas in Atlanta around other boutiques for the foot traffic, but realize site rental in those areas could be pricey. In Savannah and Jekyll Island, look for tourist-friendly spots where vacationers would be shopping.
Develop a business plan. Estimate all start-up costs from site rental to employee wages and inventory. Determine the number of sales you will have to make to pay the bills each month. Try to keep prices competitive with other nearby retailers. Take the plan to a bank to acquire a start-up loan.
Get licensed. In Georgia, businesses are handled through local offices in every county and city. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce (see resources) has a directory of local offices that can direct you to the local licensing agent.
Hire a staff. Place ads on Craigslist and in the Savannah Morning News and Atlanta Journal Constitution. Determine how long you want to stay open daily and how many employees you'll need to make that happen. If you'd like a higher end boutique, consider recruiting employees from the fashion program at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Open with a splash. Make your first day in business memorable by hiring a DJ or offering a wine and cheese selection while shoppers browse. Make customers feel welcome so that they keep coming back.
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