The Small Business Times

How To Open A Shoe Store

If you are yearning to start a business and are into shoes, you might like to learn how to open a shoe store. Setting up an independent shoe store won’t happen overnight. It requires time and thorough preparation to make profitable sales. So, how do you go about it?

Before you open a shoe store, you need to do market research to realize the gap, decide what to sell, and plan your business. Then, register it and file for taxes, get the required licenses and permits, and open a business bank account. Finally, define the services you will offer, price your products, and promote them.

9 Steps for Opening a Shoe Store

  1. Do Market Research

Before you venture into the shoe business, it is paramount that you do ample market research. First, check on what your competitors are selling to identify the gap in the market. You can investigate how many retailers and footwear chains sell school shoes if you are near a school. This way, you’ll know if there’s a demand for these shoes.

Also, if you want to run a successful shoe business, consider the potential locations for your store. It would be good to locate the shop in a central area for customers to find you easily. But make sure you understand how much it will cost you to rent a shop or a market stall.

Finally, find out if the area you’re considering is safe. Find a place with low crime rates to avoid potential break-ins and theft. Such an environment will lead to losses instead of profits.

  1. Decide What You Will Sell

The second step is deciding what you will sell to your target audience. The market gap you found when researching can help you decide what to sell. For example, if you realize a particular type of footwear is lacking in the market, you can stock it in your store. You only need to find its different brands, sizes, and colors.

On the other hand, you can choose to deal in a wide range of shoe types and prices to cater to a broader market. That means you will have men, women, and children’s footwear. You can include different varieties such as boots, running shoes, sports shoes, casual, and comfortable shoes. And you might also incorporate sandals, slippers, and house shoes.

Even though you’ll have shoes as the main product in your store, you can diversify by adding other products. For example, you can sell shoe care products, laces, insoles, and socks. You could even include belts, handbags, jewelry, and hats at your store. These products can help you profit, especially when shoe sales are low.  

  1. Plan Your Business

After deciding what you will sell, it will be easy to plan your business. Given your plan, consider the capital you’ll need to open a shoe store. It could cost you up to $200,000 to start the business on the high end. And the costs would include professional fees, licensing, utility deposits, computers, and a point-of-sale system. Besides, the initial investment in shoe stock could amount to a great deal of money.

Now that you have done the market research, you should have a good idea of your target market. Think about acquiring customers and retaining return shoppers to grow your business. You could offer discounts in special seasons such as Christmas to retain and attract more buyers. 

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It’s also necessary that you consider what you will name your shoe store business. Create a brand name that your target audience will respond to. And ensure that there isn’t another business using the same name. It should also be easy to find on Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, and the like. You’ll also need it when registering your business with legal entities.   

  1. Register Your Business and File for Taxes

If you want to open a shoe business, you need to register it first for legal operations. You can register the business as a sole proprietorship, corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or partnership. It may benefit from registering the business as an LLC or corporation. In this case, you would protect yourself from personal liability if the shoe store gets sued.  

When your business is legally registered, you’ll also need to register for taxes. And for tax registration, you require an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS, which is free and straightforward to obtain.

The taxation of your shoe business will be contingent on the business structure you choose when registering it. If you registered it as an LLC, getting an S corporation taxation type is worth it.  

  1. Get the Required Licenses and Permits

Before opening a shoe store, you need licenses and permits from the government in your state. The lack of such documents could lead to significant fines or result in your business being closed. The kind of licenses and permits that you require varies per state. Therefore, check with your local municipal or government office to be sure.

One of the permits you need is the Certificate of Occupancy (CO). The certificate shows that you have adhered to building codes, zoning laws, and government regulations. If you’re leasing  business location, the landlord will be the one to obtain the CO. But if you are buying or building the shoe store, it is your responsibility.

  1. Get a Business Bank Account

Opening a business bank account is advised when opening a shoe store. This is to help you track all the transactions and separate the business finances from your personal finances. As a result, you can monitor your business’s financial health.

Besides, the account will likely give you access to other accounting tools to record your inventories. With accurate and detailed accounts of your business, it becomes simple to do your annual financial reports and tax filing.

  1. Define the Services to Offer

It is crucial to think about the services you can provide to your clients before you open a shoe store. Unique services not found in any other store can make it a number 1 choice for buyers.

For instance, you can take a shoe-fitting course to help people find the perfect fit when they come to buy shoes. This is incredible, especially for fitting children’s shoes, serving people with unusual size requirements, or other special conditions.

You might also consider providing shoe cleaning and repair services to your customers. Find a place within your premises for such services or subcontract to a specialist.

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Providing these additional services to your customers gives your business an added advantage. And it offers added value to the client’s buying experience. As a result, you’ll likely win repeat business and get referrals. And this way, your business will grow.

  1. Price your Products

Now that you are about to open a shoe store, it is crucial to price your products according to the market. This is easy because you already have a good idea of what your business expenses will be . Therefore, you need to set prices that help you make a profit.

Some of your suppliers will recommend retail prices for the products. If you are unsure of the retail prices, you can use these as a guide when doing your pricing. 

Another thing that can help you price your products is what your competitors are charging. This is because most buyers will compare prices at different stores before purchasing. Therefore, price your products in line with your competitors’ prices to attract clients. 

If your inventory is similar to theirs, try to price your shoes slightly lower if you can. You can price them higher if you’re selling exclusive high-end shoes that other stores don’t sell.

  1. Promote your Business

The last step of how to open a shoe store is promoting it. You need to be able to let your target audience know what you can offer them. There are several approaches you can employ to market your shoe store.

First, you can create a website. If you have the finances, you can commission a web designer to do this for you. A professional website will benefit the image of your brand. It’s a good idea to include all the shoe products and services you are offering together with their prices on the website. If you’re able to set up an e-commerce store for your shoes through your website, even better.

You can advertise online using Google Ads, pay-per-click social media ads, and local print media. Joining the Independent Footwear Retailers Associations (IFRA) will also offer networking opportunities.

Promoting your business is something that should be done daily. Think about how you’ll attract the interest of prospective customers. Brand it on the outside with your brand colors and logo. And ensure that the store is always neat and clean with your products are displayed in a well-coordinated manner. Don’t forget about your employees. Ensure that they are welcoming, approachable, and provide great customer service.

Finally, you can also sell your products on online platforms such as eBay, Etsy, and Amazon. Since these are big companies selling many items, you need to stand out. Therefore, ensure that you provide clear photos and descriptions of your products. You can also use the marketing tools these platforms provide to market your products.


It is crucial to understand how to open a shoe store before beginning the journey because it is a competitive business. However, you’ll have a step-by-step plan to set up a successful shoe store business with our above guide.