Buying Clothing: Tips for Merchandise for Your Boutique

So you want to start a boutique? Or maybe you already own one? Well buying clothing is a huge part, if not the most important part, of running a successful boutique.

There are many things that you should consider when buying clothing for your boutique. You have to figure out where to buy clothing from, who to buy it from, how much money to spend and how many items to buy.  It's certainly a process.

But, I am here to share a few tips that will make you an expert at buying clothing for your boutique.

Here are a few things to keep in mind!

1. The golden rule - PLAN.

Have you ever heard the saying "If you fail to plan then you plan to fail?" Well it's true in this instance. When it comes to buying clothing for your boutique, having a plan is essential. Your plan should consist of a variety of things.

  • How much you want to spend
  • What you want to buy (Example: 6 styles of dresses, 15 styles of bottoms, 32 styles of tops, etc.)
  • When you want it delivered by
  • What colors, styles and silhouettes you're interested in
  • How much you want to sell each item for

Check out my videoabout buying for your boutique!

I like to use Pinterest to create an inspirational board of what to buy. A screenshot of my Pinterest board for my upcoming buying trip is below.

2. You're Buying Clothing For Everyone Else's Closet, Not Just Yours

One of the most important things to remember when buying clothing is that everyone won't like what you like. Just because people tell you that they like how you dress doesn't mean that everyone wants to dress like you. If you have a team of people working with you, consult them to see what they like. It's always nice to have a good variety of styles for all types of people in your shop and not just things that cater to one audience or just your own style. Watch my videoto learn the best way to have a well-rounded collection of merchandise in your boutique.

3. Know the Difference Between Buying Online and Buying in Person

There can be a a huge difference between buying clothing online and buying clothing in person.  I'll write a separate post to talk more in detail about where to buy clothing. To put it briefly, buying clothing in person gives you the opportunity to feel the clothing before purchasing it. It also gives you the opportunity to potentially build a relationship with someone who works there who will negotiate prices with you. Buying clothing online can be successful if you're familiar with the brand. Buying clothing wholesale online can be a risky business. Return policies can be strict and restocking fees often apply. So, be mindful of the potential setbacks that could occur.

[caption id="attachment_1644" align="aligncenter" width="1274"] - the online wholesale website that we often use to order clothing at wholesale prices[/caption]

4. Attend Fashion Trade shows

Now, I must say that I have not done this one myself yet. But, I will be attending MAGIC in about four days. However, if you are a super organized person and like to plan things in advance then attending a fashion trade show might be just what you need. Buying clothing at fashion trade shows allows you to see an entire collection of items to be delivered across a span of months/seasons.

For example, when I attend MAGIC this month I will be able to shop items for the upcoming fall and winter season. (Fashion is always ahead.) There will be vendors showcasing items that are currently available. But, buying clothing at a trade show allows you to pre-plan collections to be delivered to your boutique at a later pre-determined date. It also works for budgeting purposes, as some vendors do not charge you until the items are shipped. So, if you order in February, but delivery isn't until August, you won't be charged until August when it ships.

5. Ask for Help if You Can't Find Something

Ask questions whether you are shopping in the fashion district and especially if you are attending a trade show. For example, the last time I went to L.A. to buy clothing I was specifically looking for plus-size clothing, but I couldn't find anything.

I couldn't even find any vendors that sold plus-size, let alone specifically catered to plus-size. So, on my second day there I started asking questions while shopping with other vendors. I told them what I was looking for and they told me where to go. If you are ever unsure of anything, ask questions!

6. Pay Attention to Brands Being Sold at Your Favorite Stores & Boutiques

If you see something that you really love at Macy's or a local boutique, keep a note of it for the next time you're buying clothing. This is not called cheating or copying. This is called doing research and doing your homework!

Also, you'd be surprised to learn that a lot of big name retailers like Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe are ordering from the very same vendors that small boutique owners order from. Many retailers typically switch the tags inside garments to reflect their brands. However, recently I've seen Forever 21, in particular, selling various brands that do not reflect their name.

I don't know why, but I always feel great knowing that I'm buying from the same vendors and the same market they often are. It's kind of fulfilling and makes me dream of one day having a company of my own that's just as popular. I'll never forget the time our shop and a store in the mall were selling the exact same top. I thought it was so cool... Or the time I bought a ton of Celebrity Pink denim and found out that Macy's had an entire line of them!

So, these a just a few tips for buying clothing for your boutique. I hope that they're been of help to you all. Be sure to ASK questions if there is anything you'd like to know! I'd be happy to help!