Help ! Looking for feedback for my proposed business !(30 Posts)
Hiya, I'm thinking of starting a maternity wear boutique as there's virtually nothing in my local area other than the usual Mothercare (not enough choice) and Formes (too expensive!). Am floating the idea of opening a shop - something I've always wanted to do - and am pretty far down the line with this from a business plan perspective. Hubbie suggested that I ask for opinions about what other mums look for in a maternity boutique - I have my own ideas, which is basically that I would want to go somewhere that was relatively small, but with a good range of modern, fashionable clothes that you don't need a second mortgage to buy, that offers a friendly personal service (I hate anonymous large chains), and from a decor perspective is modern, clean, fresh, but at the same time comforting and homely (agh! how do I do that ??!) Any ideas/suggestions about what you would like, or perhaps what you thought was good in maternity clothes shops that you've visited would be very much appreciated. This is all new to me so any other bits of advice much appreciated ! x
Tall and petite range as most dont cater for height!cos dont ya know we tallies dont get preggie
Big changing rooms and comfy chairs to sit in. With a big tum standard changing rooms are just too small IMO.
For me the clothes would have to be cheap because I am the kind of person who wears clothes for years, the thought of wearing something for a max of 9 months was horrifying.
You might also consider having a second hand rail. Most of my stuff was borrowed but the little I did buy was certainly too good to throw away after DS was born and I didn't know anyone who was pregnant at the time to pass it on to.
Good luck, sounds like a great idea to me!
Have an online/mail order facility too - if you get your stock right you could sell nationwide
Agree big sizes, also was always short of very smart work wear. From a shopping perspective, big changing rooms with somewhere to sit in them. Also little things like a water machine wouldn't go amiss.
You could give out free preggie pops to customers or have a basket in the shop!
Ditto the water machine ,oh and a .....loo maybe!
I once went to a toy shop that had a large enclosed play area for children so that parents could actually look at the toys and choose something rather than just grab stuff off shelfs while checking kids not on the way out of shop. Long for something like that now I'm pg and have two ds's to entertain when I'm shopping... Maybe even a small corner of your shop for toys?
I can dream can't I?
Our local children's shoe shop(only a small shop) has a fenced off play corner for little children, coffee machine for parents to help themselves and a changing table in the storage area with some wipes and a few nappies incase you are caught short. It isn't located in the main part of town (Wetherby, Yorks - small market town) but is near a car park so is easy to get to with children and as a separate trip from say food shopping. They also have a very loyal clientele. Would have thought that many of these points if not all of them would be good for a maternity wear shop - but the water instead of coffee perhaps!
Wetherby did have a maternity wear shop for a while but it closed down - not sure why. Internet competition? A facility to sell second hand maternity wear stuff would be good - I had a Formes suit (treated myself in third pregnancy) but passed it on to a friend of a friend and its lost out there somewhere....
You could perhaps save on rent by getting a shop away from the main street with better parking and access, but you will need to get really good exposure to get away with it. Lots of speacilist shops do this as they know people will make a special journey rather then in the high street where people want to compare prices and porducts in all the shops.
We have a maternity wear shop in our town who also specialise in baby cothes and gifts for new babies and christenings.
Make sure you visit shops in neighbouring towns and see how they do it, great way to spot good ideas and what works as weel as things that are not working.
I think a play corner is a great idea as pregnant mums arelikely to have other children under 5 and friends with babies and toddlers.
Having a toilet and changing facilities is a good way to attract mums even if they weren't intending to buy anything, once they are in the door your charming staff get a chance to woo them into buying . Also staops mums who might want to buy having to cut there visit short to go and find a toilet if they have young children.
Cloth nappies and moon cups might be a good sideline if you have lots of mumsnetters .
Sounds to me you have the right attitude already, well done. I second the opinion of affordable, simply because maternity can really only be worn for a max of 5 months, if that. Unless it's totally plain, there's even a risk of it being out of fashion by the next pregnancy. I agree with others about the 2nd hand rail, you could offer a %age of the sales from these clothes back to the owners, it will encourage people to return for various reasons, and also to offer clothes in very good condition. Have some good knowledge on bra sizes, the lady in the baby shop where I got mine (feeding bra) was very helpful so I ended up buying two.
Re the decor, for all I loved the baby theme when ds was brand new and it was all very exciting, tbh buying something for myself at the time was a real treat and perhaps just getting away from complete BABY influenced purchases was exciting, so I would probably appreciate a shop where the decor does not consist of borders with teddy bears or everything is all to do with the bambino. I'm thinking light fresh green, and white woodwork. Want a hand?! Maybe have a chair from a 3 peice suite style, very comfortable, nice carpet. Laura Ashley fabric. Oh now I'm just getting carried away...
I want to do it to but in an area with an average birth rate of 12 per year, don't think my annual sales will exceed £200!
as people have already said - bigger sizes. I had trouble at size 16-18, it must be even worse for bigger sizes and it's utterly depressing to pick up something XL and it's too tight....
also loo, changing facilities, play area for kids, space for prams. Plus somewhere good to display adverts/flyers from local groups such as baby music/NCT/exercise/all that baby stuff. (useful for customers and will also get the people who run such things on board). Comfy chairs and somewhere nice for breastfeeding too.
bra fitting would be excellent. (and again with a good range of larger sizes). and good range of tights/swimsuits etc.
and also, from your point of view, cute stuff for newborns - people will always pick that up at the same time and increase your takings - things like comforters, hats, little gifty stuff. Plus appropriate cards etc.
Great idea - good luck with it
Think about lighting in the changing room
I hate changing rooms as most show up all my ghastly flab and I was even more depressed when pregnant.
For me affordability was key and also I wanted relatively plain clothes - not maternity versions of the latest fashion.
Remember the age range of mums-to-be is getting wider so you need to cater for nippers and oldies alike.
Maybe you could invest in some really fab outfits for hire? As they're so expensive and likely to be worn only once?
Hiring special occasion outfite is a great idea.
I thought about doing this too but don't really thinking running a shop is for me. But the things I wanted to do (lots of which have already been mentioned) are:
- chairs/relax area with water machine
- place for kiddies to play
- notice board with local activities etc on it
- wide enough aisles to get a buggy in and no steps getting into the shop for the same reason
- split the shop in half - one half for maternity and one half for baby stuff
Types of clothes. I was thinking of putting the clothes into categories like:
- Back to basics
- Working 9 to 5
- Out on the town
- Big days out
(You could be a lot more creative with the names!)
Definitely consider doing a second hand swap thing and rental of super posh outfits.
Extended opening hours would be a good thing - say one late night opening evening each week. Then women could get their partners, when they return home from work, to look after their children so they can visit alone.
You could make it into more than just a late night shopping thing - make it into something more social so pregnant women can meet others in the same boat.
Perhaps get a speaker or expert in - like a bra fitting expert, or someone to talk about some aspect of pregnancy or new born babies. Or link up with a local photographer who specialises in taking pictures of pregnant women/new born babies - offer their services.
Host a makeover event - new hairstyle, makeup - just the time for women to buy new maternity clothes to go with their new image
Also, contact NCT groups or similar and offer to host a late open evening for a specific group of mothers.
Make up emergency hospital bags - ready to buy - for women caught on the hop! See if the local maternity hospital will offer them for sale.
Any of above might attract some publicity in the local press.
Hope this helps - good luck!
Have you found a good source for stock at the right prices? I think finding the right stuff to sell would prove to be the hardest thing.
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