It seems at some point or another, every women has sat wistfully dreaming of owning a boutique. Shopping, traveling and having your own set rules are real parts of the job. However, there are critical decisions that should be well thought out before one opens the doors to a new venture. These decisions are so important, they lay the cornerstone for any successful boutique.
How much space will you need?
How much space you need is entirely dependent on what you decide to sell and the amount of inventory you will need to meet your projected sales in a month. For instance, if you sell high end shoes, the majority of your inventory will be a back room. Only one shoe stays on the floor to display and the rest are in the stock room. However, with clothing, your size runs are on the floor. Consequently, if you sell shoes you need a larger stock room and a smaller retail space than a clothing store which requires more room on the floor. And remember average sales per square foot for your industry. Do your research, it is an excellent benchmark to gauge productivity.
Know your demographic.
Your price point will become the identity of your store. When you are looking for a space to rent or own for your boutique, make sure you know the demographic of your buyers. Selling shoes that cost $500 a pair in a neighborhood full of college students on a budget will lead to a quick demise of a store. High end stores usually require a rather high median income by zip code because your livelihood depends on the livelihood of the residents and shoppers around you. So be realistic about the inventory you choose for your boutique or make sure your boutique is an area that can sustain your price point.
Location. Location. Location.
This coincides with knowing your demographic, but deserves its own mention. You may decide to put your boutique in a mall, a strip mall or in an old house. Each has its own costs and benefits. If you decide to open shop in a mall, remember yes, you will have the foot traffic, but the rent can be 3 to 4 times higher than strip mall. And if you decide on an old house off the beaten track, your inventory should be unique, customer service impeccable, and hours of operation realistic for your customers. If you are off the beaten track, you become a “destination boutique”. Meaning, shoppers are taking time to specifically visit your store as opposed to just being a passer by at the mall. ANY location can work if you offer the customer the experience they are looking for such as special treatment, VIP offerings, or even just knowing their names and what they like, before they even know!
Do not overbuy. This can not be overstated. If you have too much inventory which you cannot sell in a reasonable time the inventory becomes stale. There is nothing worse for a customer than visiting a store and seeing the same items on consecutive visits because the boutique owner overbought an item. Keep inventory fresh and your turnover short, and you will see your sales skyrocket.
These are some of the most important things to address in the initial phase of opening your boutique. If you take these key items into consideration, then you have started yourself off on the right path to success.