Vintage clothing always seems to be in style. Anything you might think will never come back into favor could surprise you and become a trend once more. Entrepreneurs interested in fashion can start a business out of buying great finds and reselling them online for a profit. Interested? This article outlines the steps to take in creating an online vintage clothing store.
Everything old is new again, eventually. The resale market is predicted to reach $64 billion by 2024. If you can find that one-of-a-kind item people are desperate to have as a go-to in their closet, you can turn a tidy profit.
When starting an online vintage clothing store, you’ll want to begin by following these several steps for small business success:
- Build a business plan
- Work out finances
- Develop a brand
- Source clothing
- Prepare and price product
- Set up an online shop
- Market your great finds
Build a Business Plan
You need to begin with a business plan. It will help you take your dream and translate it into real, practical thinking and actions. Passion is one thing, but you’ll need data to make the most of your small business investment.
The typical business plan covers several main areas:
- Company description
- Products and services
- Market analysis
- Strategy and implementation
- Organization and management team
- Financial plan and projections
Work Out Finances
Every entrepreneur encounters startup costs. As part of your business planning, you will have to develop a budget and predict expenses. You’ll also need your financial plan and projections to attract startup funding.
You might finance your business inventory using a small business loan and other options, such as crowdfunding. To learn the pros and cons of the credit card option or merchant cash advance, review our Guide to Financing Options for Your Small Business.
Keep track of all spending and expenses from the outset by setting up and managing your finances using accounting tools.
Develop a Brand
Yours will not be the only vintage fashion shop online. During the business planning stage, you’ll research the market and competitors. This can give you important insight into the expectations of a retro clothing store and what others are doing.
Now the question is, what makes your business distinct? You’ll need to determine your unique value proposition. Knowing this can help you land on a business name, brand mission and values, and ultimately shape your relationship with your customers.
Once you choose a business or brand name, register the website domain name (and related domains). Think of the little details too. This might include:
- What kind of logo suits your brand?
- What colors communicate your brand voice?
- How will your packaging reflect your brand?
- Will your brand communicate in a clever or classy tone in its messaging?
Successful online vintage clothier Lora Conrad told PennyHoarder she makes sure her packages go out looking pretty. She also writes notes to thank her customers. It’s a part of the business she enjoys, but it also boosts the customer experience and establishes Hungry Heart Vintage as a brand that cares.
Obviously, you’re starting your vintage clothing shop because you have a good eye for quality and the next trend. Who knows, even poodle skirts or pastel popped-collar shirts may make a resurgence.
You might source clothing from:
- Garage sales
- Estate sales
- Flea markets
- Antique markets
- Neighborhood thrift stores
- Private buying appointments
Knowing your brand can help you focus on the best sources to find what you need. Your online thrift shop might offer a little bit of everything. Or maybe you want to specialize in vintage sneakers or cool, retro coats. Have a clear idea of what you want to sell.
Keep in mind, too, that you’ll need to find somewhere you can store your inventory. This can be a big budget line item for an entrepreneur, so invest the time to think this through in advance. You don’t want to be scrambling for space and paying a premium because you’re on a deadline.
Prepare & Price Product
Reselling vintage clothes is not quite as simple as buying the item and selling it online at a steep markup. If only. Once you source the clothing, you may need to clean and repair it before reselling it. To post your items for sale online, you’ll also need to get good at photographing the clothes and describing them in an appealing way. Or you can invest in expert help for photography and content creation.
Consider that time investment when you develop a formula for pricing your retro clothing. Also, account for inventory storage, packaging supplies, and shipping costs when determining your prices. You’ll want to find a shipping strategy that doesn’t undercut your revenue.
Set Up an Online Shop
Once you’ve got your products ready for sale, and a system in place for packaging and shipping your vintage clothing, get your online shop up and running. You’ll need to build a website to sell online. Working with a website hosting provider that enables eCommerce will help.
Since the online store is the face of your business, it can be a good idea to turn to a professional website designer and copywriter to give your online shop an engaging presence. You’ll also need to think about cybersecurity, ADA accessibility, and making the site mobile-friendly.
- Providing multiple shipping options
- Adding checkout buttons at the top and bottom of the checkout page
- Assuring customer identity and credit card data security
- Letting people save a cart for later
- Giving a product summary when shoppers click or hover on an item
- Making sure you have the inventory you advertise
- Offering promo codes
Market Your Great Finds
Now you need people to find your online thrift store. Start by getting your online store listed and reviewed in online directories. Customer testimonials will make a big difference to your store’s credibility and your search engine optimization (SEO).
You’ll also want to use social media and leverage SEO to get your vintage clothing store noticed by buyers. You could also employ content marketing to reach customers. This could include having a blog on your business website or running email campaigns to educate and entertain your current customers and inspire new ones.
A motivated entrepreneur can make money from their interest in vintage fashion. Someone else’s “I will never be caught dead wearing that again” could become your customers’ new favorite from their closet. Follow these steps in starting an online vintage clothing store to launch on the right (stylishly shod) foot.