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How To Open a Shoe Store

Woman Managing a Shoe Store

The thought of opening a shoe store could be exciting. You might have dreamt about opening a shoe store for a long time. Perhaps the idea of opening a shoe store has only recently occurred to you. Either way, you're probably wondering what steps you need to take to get into the shoe store industry.

There are standard steps that new business owners generally have to take. However, keep in mind that your vision for your new business will be vital as you start making plans. Do you want to have an online shoe business or brick-and-mortar? Do you plan to carry sports shoes or orthopedic shoes? Do you want to offer luxury brands or discount shoes to your customers? It helps to keep your vision in mind as you begin the process of starting your new business.

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Names in the Shoe Store Business

One of the first things you want to think about is the name of your business. There are several things to consider in choosing a business name.

First, what's your niche in the shoe store industry? Are you offering the best in kids' shoes, sneakers, or designer brands? You'll want to keep your niche in mind as you create a list of names that could work for your shoe business.

Second, consider whether or not the name is unique. For purposes of branding and marketing, you'll want your business name to stand out. Think about what makes you and your business different. It could help to research competitors and make sure that your branding is not too similar to theirs. If your business name is too similar to a name that's already in use, it could cause potential customers to get confused about who you are and what you're offering.

Legal problems can arise if you choose a business name that is too similar or the same as a name already in use. For example, if the name that you choose to do business under has been registered as a trademark, the person or entity who has trademark protection for that name could file a lawsuit against you. For this reason, it's essential to take the following steps as part of your name search:

  • Search business records for your state.
  • Search the fictitious business name database.
  • Search the trademark database.

Keep in mind that you could conduct business under a name other than your legal business name. Business owners choose to use DBA ("doing business as") names for different reasons. If doing business under a different name interests you, you will need to look into the process for registering a DBA name in your state.

Locations for a Shoe Shop

Have you started to think about a physical location for your shoe store? Unless you're planning to run an online shoe shop, the site could be an important consideration. As you begin scouting out locations, keep in mind that you could benefit from having a prime location with lots of foot traffic. A plaza, for example, could be a good location. With a prime location, you may be able to attract customers who were shopping for clothes or other items when they spotted your shop.

You will need to have enough square feet in the space for footwear and store furniture. However, you also have to make sure that you can afford the space. Be sure to factor in the cost of your retail location when you calculate operating expenses. Many people advise that business owners have at least three months of operating expenses saved up before opening their store.

Business Plans for Shoe Stores

Creating a business plan for your shoe store is an important step. Business plans are valuable tools for business owners. Business plans are also handy tools for investment purposes. If you plan to seek financing for your business, you will likely need to provide a business plan to the investor or the bank.

You should include the following information in your business plan:

  • Business name
  • Business owners
  • Business location
  • Marketing strategy
  • Cost estimates
  • Business goals
  • Retail prices

Estimating the costs of opening your shoe business could be complicated. Fees can vary, depending on the type of shoe store that you're opening and many other factors.

Are you planning on leasing or buying a space? What types of shoes will you sell? What kind of business entity do you plan to form? Do you know of a wholesale distributor that you can work with?

Initial inventory is one of the most considerable startup costs in the shoe business. Because building inventory can be so expensive, many shoe store owners seek out deals from wholesale distributors. If you can get your shoes at wholesale prices, then you can save money on inventory. Many shoe store owners choose to offer items like shoe care products and socks, as well.

In addition to inventory, you need to consider the costs of utilities, employee salaries, and promotion. Don't forget to make estimates of both startup costs and ongoing costs.

Legal Structures in the Shoe Industry

If you have not already researched the most common types of legal structures, you might be unsure about what they are and why the structure you choose is so important.

The type of legal structure that you choose is important in terms of liability. If you decide to form an LLC (limited liability company) or corporation for your shoe business, you will have liability protection. This means that your personal assets will be protected if someone sues the business.

There's a process for forming an LLC or corporation. To create an LLC, you will need to file paperwork with the Secretary of State (or other agency) and pay a filing fee. To form a corporation, you will need to file paperwork with the Secretary of State (or other agency) and pay a filing fee. There are additional requirements for forming these entities and staying in compliance with state laws.

On the other hand, you could operate a sole proprietorship. As a sole proprietor, your own name would be your legal business name. As discussed earlier, you could avoid doing business under your legal business name by filing a DBA name. However, as a sole proprietor, you would not have personal asset protection. This means that you could lose your house, car, or bank accounts if someone sues the business. It is cheaper and easier to conduct business as a sole proprietor, but you will need to consider how important it is to have limited liability.

Federal Taxes

There are a few tax considerations for your new shoe business. First, the legal structure that you choose will affect your taxes. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has different tax treatments for different types of business entities. For example, an owner of a corporation has to handle their personal tax return and a tax return for the corporation itself. Sole proprietors report business income and losses on their individual tax returns. As a sole proprietor, you would not have to file a separate tax return for your business.

You may have to get an EIN (employer identification number) no matter which legal structure you choose. An EIN is a number that the IRS uses to identify businesses for tax purposes. You can get an EIN for free.

Business Licenses and Permits for Your New Shop

You will need to ensure that you have the appropriate licenses and permits to operate your shoe business. If you do not have the licenses and permits you need, your business could be shut down. Check with local authorities for the requirements for a business license in your state.

Insurance for Shoe Stores

Business insurance is key to protecting your business. A customer could come into your shop and suffer some loss or injury at any time. Having general liability insurance could give you peace of mind.

You might also need worker's compensation insurance. Worker's compensation insurance may kick in if an employee of yours is injured on the job.

Hiring Process

You might need to take on new hires for your shoe store. It could be essential to seek out candidates with the skills and experience necessary in the retail industry. Customer service experience is a plus. Some customers might need help finding the correct type of shoe or right size, and it helps to have staff that you can depend on to make sure that the customers get exactly what they need.

Marketing and Promotion for Your New Shoe Store

Remember to keep your target market in mind as you make decisions about your marketing strategy. What's the best way to reach your potential customers? Ensuring people know about your business and the types of products you offer is vital to building a customer base.

You may wish to advertise your shop on the radio or in the local newspaper. Most likely, it would be helpful for you to have an online presence. You can hire someone to help you with logos and website design. You could also create social media accounts that you can use to give potential customers information about deals or specials. Don't forget marketing costs when you're estimating your business expenses.

Interested in Opening a Shoe Store? 

Starting a new business can take a lot of time and effort. Whether you are opening a shoe store alone or with a partner, there will be many decisions to make. It helps to feel like you have all of the guidance and information you need as you make such important decisions. That's why we offer a simple-to-follow business formation solution.

A business attorney could also help you evaluate your options as you work toward opening a shoe store. 

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