How to Start and Stay in the Retail Market

Starting your own retail store takes a lot of initial planning. There is so much more to it than simply choosing a place, setting up your goods, and opening your doors. After the early planning stages, it is hard work to stay at the top of the retail market. Denver has one of the most vibrant retail scenes in the nation with its lively downtown shopping district, strong regional anchors, and eclectic neighborhood businesses. So, where do you fit in and how do you stay in? A small business attorney will help you with every phase – from planning and daily operations to maintaining and expanding to helping you sell when the time is right – throughout the life of your retail business.

Start on Solid Ground

As a small business owner, you will hear again and again how crucial it is to choose the right legal structure for your retail store. Your business entity affects everything from the taxes you are required to pay to the permits and zoning laws that govern your business. Determining the right products and services as well as location are also business planning essentials. You may have a passion for your product, but you have to figure out how and where to sell it in order for it to be profitable and make sure you have the right market for the product you love. For instance, you may love meat and be the best butcher around, but a meat market in a highly vegetarian area is a recipe for disaster. Before you commit to a lease, consider if the ideal location for your product is ideal for your budget. Sometimes, second best is better. A great space that costs too much and causes you to close is a lot worse than a pretty good space that allows you to thrive. A business attorney can guide you through state and city laws as well as review and create contracts and agreements.

Establish Good Vendor/Wholesale Relationships

Once you have settled on the right product(s), it is time to find the right vendors. In order for your retail store to offer products at a price and time that suits your customers, you have to partner with vendors who understand your needs and vision. Communicate your goals and expectations at the start of the relationship. If your vendor knows that timing, cost, and consistency are important to your business, then they are likely to focus on those areas. Other areas to keep in mind when selecting a vendor include returns, defective items, credit, and payment terms among others.

Recruit the Best Employees

Hiring the best sales staff is just as essential to the success of your retail store as having the right product. With the influx of millennials who have migrated to Colorado in recent years, it may be more important to hire someone who fits the culture rather than someone with the highest qualifications. Cultural fit covers a variety of characteristics, including alignment of values, work-life balance, company mission, and customer relations. You may think a college degree is necessary, but someone who lives and breaths your products may put someone who doesn’t love your products but has a degree to shame. Once you have found the ideal staff, be sure to train them beyond their daily roles. You can avoid many costly mistakes and lost customers by ensuring your employees are well versed in your store’s policies and procedures. The better equipped they are to handle the unexpected or uncommon situation (and feel empowered to do so), the better customer service they will deliver. You may let them know that for repeat customers, they can offer an occasional small discount. Not only does this make your employee feel that you trust them, it allows your customers to feel your business appreciates them. Whether you need help hiring employees, drawing up their contracts, or [if things take a negative turn] letting them go, your small business attorney will be there.

Fine-Tune Your Marketing

Your marketing plan should be in place before you open your retail store. This should incorporate promotional, branding, and advertising ideas. Determining not only how your customers shop, but also where they dwell (e.g. social media), will point to where your marketing budget should be spent. Since retail has become an omnichannel business model, you would be remiss not to consider each way your potential customers like to do business – brick and mortar shops, mobile applications, catalogues, FAQ webpages, social media, live web chats, telephone communication, and more. Expanding your channels with a consistent brand and message will expand your reach.

If you need help starting a retail store, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Colorado Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email:

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Real Estate Services for Business Owners

Elizabeth Lewis provides the following real estate law services to small and medium sized business owners in Denver and throughout Colorado:

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