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Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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6 Steps to Opening a Natural Products Boutique

 

So you want to open your own natural products boutique. Maybe you've always lingered over the farmer's market stalls that sell incense, tapestries, prayer flags, and figurines of Buddhist and Hindu deities. Or maybe you love baking vegan treats, dehydrating your own energy bars, or fermenting sauerkraut on your kitchen counter. You might be the type of person that knows which essential oil to blend with which carrier oil or the kind of person who lingers way too long in the tea aisle of every natural grocer you've ever been to. 

 

Whatever your reasons, you're ready to make a shift to natural products retail, and you've decided that a boutique is the best option for your budget and time commitment. What's next?

 

Step 1: Scope Out the Competition

The first thing you should do is check out all of the natural grocery stores, organic markets, farmer's market booths, and natural product boutiques in your area. See what those folks are doing, how they're doing it, and where they're doing it. And ask questions. After all, you probably don't want to open up a smaller version of an existing business a couple of blocks over. 

 

Step 2: Decide On Your Niche

After seeing what your competitors are doing, decide how you can stand out. Maybe your focus will be on SOS-free (also known as: salt-oil-sugar-free) treats, or you could be the tea specialty boutique. Maybe you'll focus on salad dressings, or maybe you'll decide that there's a shortage of legume- and whole grain-availability in your area. You might be a vitamins and supplements expert, and you could provide a higher level of customer service in that area than any other retailer around.

 

Step 3: Brainstorm a Name

The name of your natural products boutique is not just to help people find you; the name will be a part of your overall branding. If you want to attract a high-end customer base, come up with a name that sounds upscale. If you're hoping to draw big box store customers who would rather support a small, local business, your name should possibly be related to a local landmark.

 

Step 4: Prepare a Detailed Budget

Next, you'll need to decide how much you can afford to spend on your natural products boutique. How much will you be able to contribute to the start-up costs, and how much can you reasonably afford to spend on leasing, products, marketing, and labor (for anyone other than yourself who will be working at your boutique)? If you have a limited budget and no desire to go into debt, that's okay, but it will determine the scope of your small business. Some business owners thrive when faced with the challenges of bootstrapping, and if that's you, go for it!

 

Step 5: Find a Location

Location is everything, right? Well, it's super-important, anyway. While it's true that customers may go out of their way to shop at your store if you're the only game in town, how long do you expect that to last? After all, if your natural products boutique thrives, other business owners may want to open their own boutiques. If those businesses open in better locations, you'll discover that you'll have to work even harder to entice customers to come to your store. On the other hand, a better location may be far more expensive. Deciding on a location can be tough, but if you keep looking, you might come across a space that meets your needs, desires, and budget.

 

Step 6: Start Spreading the Word

This step is actually concurrent with the fifth step because once you've settled on a name and budget, you should start building a follower base on social media. Get people excited about your natural products boutique while you're still looking for a location so that you'll have customers ready and waiting when you finally open your doors.

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