What Are the Best Tips for Starting a Boutique?

Alex Tree

Some of the best tips for starting a boutique include investigating the need for different types of boutiques and their competition, securing reliable product deliveries, and becoming officially recognized by local laws. Sometimes a person is driven by a strong urge to live out his or her dream job, but it is necessary to step back and determine if a local boutique will thrive. In addition, a boutique cannot thrive without quality products and their delivery, so it may be necessary to sign contracts with manufacturers or local tailors. Lastly, it is important to get the proper permits in order to legally operate and avoid expensive fines or jail.

A shopping cart full of children's clothing from a boutique.
A shopping cart full of children's clothing from a boutique.

Determining the type of boutique to start should depend on a mixture of the potential owner’s passions and the local supply and demand. In general, if eight other boutiques are selling vintage clothing in a small to medium city, the market is likely already cornered. Likewise, if only one local boutique sells children’s clothing but still struggles to make ends meet, the market for that type of clothing might be too small. Before starting a boutique, some amount of investigative work should be put into how much interest such a boutique would generate and if it is possible to beat the competition at least often enough to make a profit. There are businesses whose primary purpose is to figure these things out, though their skill and knowledge does not come cheap.

A boutique could specialize in vintage women's clothing.
A boutique could specialize in vintage women's clothing.

No matter the kind of products, starting a boutique means securing goods to sell long-term. Most people do this by finding a manufacturer they like and getting information on how to order their products. Sometimes manufacturers require wholesale buyers to sign a contract, but this might not apply to a buyer ordering small amounts. If the boutique will specialize in handmade clothing or jewelry, the owner should make sure these items can be produced fast enough while still being top quality. This can mean having more goods made than necessary to build a back room inventory or having other artists on call to buy from.

Some boutiques may specialize in children's clothing.
Some boutiques may specialize in children's clothing.

Depending on the country, getting a business license might be the first step to starting a boutique. The exact process differs from place to place, but special departments often handle these matters and have an online presence. A person can usually search for “business license,” “business permit,” or a similar phrase on a search engine to get local results. There may also be other requirements for starting a boutique in a certain area, like having a unique business name and a storefront that passes safety inspections.

A location in a thriving shopping area is important to bring business into the boutique.
A location in a thriving shopping area is important to bring business into the boutique.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@Iluviaporos - That's one of the reasons I think most people should think hard about starting an online boutique first rather than trying to start one on the ground. It costs a lot less and it's much less risky because there's no property involved if you run it from home.


@croydon - I think the most important thing to do if you learn that there have been other boutiques before you in an area and that they went out of business, is to see if you can figure out why that happened. The good thing for you is that the owners are going to be much more likely to talk to you if they are no longer potential competitors. However, it's also unlikely they will have an unbiased view of what happened.

The thing is, boutiques shouldn't go out of business after one year if they were planned properly, because one of the fundamentals of starting a retail boutique or store is to make sure you have the capital to keep your doors open for at least a year without making a profit.

It takes a long time to establish a successful business and you have to be prepared to weather whatever happens before it succeeds.


I would definitely hesitate to start a boutique in an area I didn't know well, even if I had done some research. In my hometown there are a dozen new boutiques opening every year and every year almost all of them end up going out of business.

I suspect the owners look around and see other boutiques and assume that their existence is proof of a thriving market.

And there is a lot of market potential for the right kind of store, but if you don't know what kind is the right kind, then you aren't going to get anywhere fast.

Post your comments
Forgot password?