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All Things Fashion DC | April 23, 2014

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Guest Contributor: Ricki Peltzman- How to Open a Store

Guest Contributor: Ricki Peltzman- How to Open a Store

ATFDC would like to introduce you to our newest guest contributor Ricki Peltzman, owner of Upstairs on 7th. This is her first piece for ATFDC.  Want to contribute to ATFDC? Email us at staff@allthingsfashiondc.com.

by Ricki Peltzman

So many people always dreamt about opening a store and while I think it can be very risky, it is also the most fun thing I have ever done! I have been asked by All Things Fashion DC to post a column about how to open, buy for, and run a boutique. So welcome to how to open a store!

If I teach you nothing else let me teach you this: no partners. Partners are for dancing.

You have to decide what KIND of store you want to have and what your vision is for it. And then stick to it. You cannot be all things to all people, so stay with one objective. If you want to have an accessory store, then don’t start buying lots of clothes. Or, if you decide you want to have a shoe store, then buy shoes, not a bunch of accessories. You mix up your customer and they do not know what you stand for. Once you send mixed messages, customers stop coming.

Next you have to find a space. My first store was 220 square feet inside an art gallery. I had also looked at opening in a beauty salon because both of these sites afforded me very low rent and a built in audience. LOW RENT is the most important key to profitability. Having as low a rent as possible will get you profitable quickly so keep the rent, your biggest expense, in your thoughts as you look for space. Also in retail a lot of times the owner wants to have you pay a base rent PLUS 6% of your profits. I would advise against this and pay a tiny bit higher rent. If you do well, then why should you share that with the owner of the building? It’s not like he/she is showing up every day!

I was lucky to have a space both in my first space as well as in the space I now occupy that has no door to the outside street. Now you may ask how is that good? Well for one thing no one wants this space, so it makes it almost unrentable space. Unrentable space is inexpensive. In DC a door to the outside can be as much as $100 per square foot. If you have 800 square feet like I do that is $8,000 a month JUST FOR RENT. Another expense gets incurred because you cannot be alone in a space with a door to the outside, so now you have to hire an employee. I have been able to hire interns who want to learn so I have saved money and helped someone at the same time as they are helping me.

Next time I will talk about buying and inventory control, which are also ingredients for being profitable!

Ricki Peltzman is the owner and buyer of Upstairs on 7th. Upstairs on 7th is an upscale retailer of women’s apparel and accessories in Washington DC known for its unique designer clothing including Ray Harris, Blanque, Planet, Crea Concept, Dress to Kill, Kokomarina, Comfy, Sun Kim, Lilith, Lunn, and Spirithouse among others.

Featured Photo Credit: Upstairs on 7th

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