How to Start a Vintage Clothing Business

vintage clothing business

You may have more luck launching a vintage clothing business than a traditional retail clothing store.

The vintage clothing industry is primed to double in size by 2022.

It can cost you anywhere between $10,000 to $50,000 to open a vintage clothing business.

You can cut initial costs by launching a home-based business. And considering the economic climate of today, more people may be inclined to check out a thrift shop than pay retail.

Here is how to get started.

Vintage Clothing Business Plan

No business can survive without a business plan.

How will you raise initial financing?

If you have employees, how will you pay them? You and one or two people may need to do all of the work before you can afford to hire additional staff.

With the right networking, you can get your clothing goods free or cheaply (more on that soon). Still, you will need a van or truck, funding for gasoline, and time sacrifices to transport, haul, and sort such goods.

How will you market your business? In the 21st century, you may need to advertise online and on local TV since so many people are at home.

You will need a customized advertising plan specific to your needs. That will cost money.

Take as much time as you need to develop a business plan. Consult a financial advisor, account, or an attorney as well.

Strategically Determine Your Consumer Demographic

Before you open a vintage clothing business, you should have an idea of who you think will buy your goods.

And the only way to get a data snapshot of your future, potential demographic is to get actual data.

Unlike in the film Fields of Dreams, never assume that just because you open a vintage clothing business they will come.

Never open a business in a data vacuum.

Talk to a business consultant. Or consult with existing business owners. You can even study local municipal and state public documents relative to local consumer spending patterns.

What are the local fashion trends in your area? And what kinds of clothes are people buying? How much money do people generally spend on clothing?

These are just a few of the questions that you should answer about your consumer base before opening your vintage clothing business.

Also, don’t just assume that only middle-aged consumers will buy from you. Vintage clothing, and especially the thrift shopping experience, is very popular with young people and Millennials.

The point is that you can’t sell vintage clothes to anyone until you know who your consumer base is.

Additionally, you need to understand your consumer demographic to know how to stock efficiently.

Sourcing Your Vintage Clothing Stock

Sourcing clothes for a vintage clothing business is not as simple as just networking with wholesalers. Frankly speaking, a vintage clothing business sells used clothing.

So, you should spend considerable time brainstorming where you can reliably source your clothing stock. Take the time to brainstorm how you can develop reliable networks to consistently re-stock affordably as well.

As you begin developing networks for sourcing clothing stock, try to think outside of the box.

You can start by researching online and checking for clothing stores going out of business. Some may give away clothes, but you may need to make a deal or check your pride and dumpster dive if they throw away prime goods.

Or check online classified sites and research individuals giving away their wardrobes. A wealthy individual often gives away large wardrobes to charity or anyone willing to take them.

Gas up your van and hit up every yard sale and flea market sale in your area.

Your best shot of accumulating clothing stock quickly is to scout area estate sales. An estate sale is a property seized by state authorities. The contents of the home are later auctioned to recoup unpaid taxes, fees, and debts.

Every item in an estate sale rarely gets sold. So, contact every municipal and private estate sale administrator in your area.

You can place a bid on an auction. Or you can wait until after the auction is over and ask if you can take any unsold items, especially clothes.

Many estate sale administrators will appreciate not having to throw away items in bulk and may acquiesce.

Here are two estate sale directories you must check out:

I don’t mean to make this sound easier than it is; you will have to hustle, have a gassed-up van or truck and be willing to travel a lot to get the goods.

Wash, Steam, and Dry

Thrift store shopping has an unfair connotation as being synonymous with serving working-class and poor people only. Nothing can be further from the truth.

One stigma that does dog the thrift store industry is bed bug infestation. Bed bugs are the ultimate hitchhiker pests.

It wouldn’t be uncommon for potential infestations to originate from a vintage clothing business.

So, remember how I said that making connections is very important? Well, you need to make a deal with a local laundromat to wash, steam or dry your goods before you sell them.

If you have enough space and it’s financially feasible, you should invest in industrial washing and drying facilities on-site.

Bed bugs aside, you want to make sure your goods are laundered and heat-dried before display. It’s also aesthetically pleasing for your consumers to peruse non-rumpled and clean clothes.

The last thing you need is for your vintage clothing business to get a bad reputation for creepy crawlies infesting your goods.

In-Store Showcase Metrics

Visit your local supermarket, liquor store, and retail clothing store. Take a look at how they display their goods in-store.

Supermarkets display food and produce with warm colors that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye to entice shoppers into the store.

Mannequins are inanimate models. They aesthetically mix variations of clothing and accessories that you can buy in a store. Mannequins ask you to imagine which clothing and accessories available before you would look best on you.

Liquor stores are famous for their vibrant, colorful, and attention-grabbing in-store displays. That is because liquor store inventories can be worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.

Liquor stores monitor sales closely, adjust inventory supplies accordingly, and then use that data to inform floor display design.

You should consult another business owner or get the help of a business-centric interior designer.

Don’t just haphazardly display clothes or laziness drape clothes on the back of a door or a closet.

Invest in some mannequins and display sets and create an aesthetically pleasing vintage clothing business showroom for your consumers.

The Price Must Be Right

It probably won’t be feasible to price garments from your vintage clothing business at $500 a pop.

Pricing every garment at $2 each won’t help you turn a profit any time either.

Research the local clothing market, visit stores, check online prices, and then price your goods accordingly.

Also, keep in mind that we are currently living in hard and stressful economic times. You can’t price your goods too low. But you can’t also price them so high that your local consumer base will balk at your prices.

The distinction between “too high,” and “too low,” relative to your pricing metrics can only be decided per your research and personal circumstances.

Vintage Clothing Business

You will find many advice columns and articles by former business owners that can help you open a vintage clothing business.

While that is all well and good, you need to do more than rely on advice articles to open your business.

Develop a business plan.

Make sourcing connections.

Know who your consumer demographic will be, and how you will reach out to them, before you open shop.

Have a plan to lander your goods and display them properly.

How will you price your goods? Why would a consumer pay your prices? You must understand your consumer, and the local business market, to price your goods accordingly.

These are only a few tips. There are so many things you must consider before even thinking about launching a vintage clothing business.

Consult former owners, get a financial advisor, or a tax accountant.

Consider teaming up with an established charity. An established charity will have a preexisting supply-chain, sourcing network, and consumer base you can merge your ideas with.

You can also brainstorm how to make your vintage clothing business an online business to cut costs.

Fashion never dies, but your vintage clothing business will live or die according to your business savvy.

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