Steps to Setting up A Small Shoe Business
- Make a business plan
- Find a property
- Find a distributor
Things you’ll need:
1. Shoe Distributor
2. Shoe Supplies (Sizers, footies, displays, fixtures)
3. Merchant account and cash register
1. Determine what type of shoes your business will focus on: Men’s athletic or dress
shoes, women's shoes or sneakers, kids wear, or a mixture. Decide on the name of
your business based on the type of shoes you are selling (e.g. Katy's Kids Shoes).
2. Decide where and how you will set up shop. It is best to open a shoe business in a
shopping district around other clothing stores. Search for mall strips in areas that
have a lot of shopping traffic to see if they have or will soon have stores for rent.
Scour the area to make sure that there aren't other shoe stores in the area before
closing on a shop; you don't want to be in a situation where you are constantly
competing with another local shoe store for customers.
3. Contract with a shoe distributor to provide you with an ongoing supply of shoes.
Handpick styles from its catalog or ask it to simply ship you a mix of its most
popular shoes for each month and season. Visit wholesaler districts in your area
(such as Canal Street in Manhattan, N.Y.) to browse their stock of shoes and
negotiate a wholesale price. As a new customer, you may have to make upfront
payment to shoe distributors and wholesalers, but make sure that you have
reasonable return or exchange terms. Have the dealer ship items directly to your
4. Open a merchant account. Purchase a credit card machine and a register to
5. Purchase fixtures, shoe displays, tables and other shoe-related supplies to start
setting up your new store. Put one display table right at the front middle of the
store so customers see your best styles as they walk in. Line the right and the left
walls with displays that reach no higher than the average height of your
customers. Place signage around the store advertising the price of your shoes.
6. Take your time deciding where to place each shoe on display and organize the
rest of your shoes in your back room so that you can easily retrieve sizes for your
future customers. Place boxes of footies (keds) and shoe sizers throughout the
7. Hire a professional to manufacture and hang a weather-resistant sign (printed or
neon) above your shop door with your shoe business name. Set a grand opening
date for your store and advertise specials on your local radio stations and
Survival Tips: These tips can help you to overcome many of the factors that lead to small
Develop a good marketing and business plan that takes into account customer
needs, competition, pricing and promotional strategies.
Have a good working knowledge of business law or hire a lawyer.
Understand your business finances, such as cash flow and handling credit.
Keep a good inventory of your products or services and your existing customers.
Supervise, train and motivate your staff.
Make sure you have the experience, expertise and talent to run your business.
Plan every part of your business from start to finish.
Know your market and define how much of it you will be able to capture.
Make sure you are offering a product that is unique and competitive or at a lower
cost than that of your competitors.
Don't under-estimate your expenses and over-estimate your revenue.
Make sure you have some cash reserves or a line of credit to help you get through
How to find a wholesale distributor:
1. Understand your industry's distribution channels. There are a lot of ways a
product can go from manufacturer to retailer. Not all wholesalers serve the same
market. Understanding your industry's distribution channels, and knowing where
you fit in the supply chain, can help you find the right wholesale supplier for your
Here's a quick primer on some different types of wholesalers:
• Manufacturer - For some products, you can buy directly from the
manufacturer. This is basically what a "boutique" store does -- buys from
small (sometimes one person) manufacturers.
• Importer / Exclusive Distributor - In some industries, a company might
have the sole rights to import and distribute a product in a certain
country. Some may sell directly to retailers, but more often, they setup or
sell to smaller local wholesalers.
• Wholesaler / Regional Distributor - There are usually regional
wholesalers who take delivery of boxcar sized lots, break them down, and
sell truckloads boxes of products to local wholesalers.
• Jobbers, "wagon peddlers" - These are the guys who make daily deliveries
to local grocers and retail brick-and-mortar stores.
Each product industry has its own unique distribution channels. Some retailers
will move enough volume to bypass jobbers, or maybe in a smaller industry,
importers sell directly to retailers. (That's why it's easier to find a wholesaler
when you already know the product you're looking for.)
When you first start you, you'll be buying from the smaller wholesalers at higher prices.
As your volume increases, you'll be able to get better pricing and/or move up the supply
ladder to a bigger wholesaler.
2. Try the manufacturer first.
You might as well start at the source. If you're selling branded items, go directly to the
manufacturer of the product. They might sell to you, depending on their minimum order
If you're too small for them or they only sell through established distribution channels,
ask them for a list of distributors you can contact.
By starting at the source (the manufacturer), you can either get the lowest prices or at
least get a list of the most reputable distributors to kickoff your search.
3. Have a productive first contact with a wholesale supplier.
Take the list of wholesale distributors you got from the manufacturer, and start
contacting each one. What you're looking for are minimum order requirements and
their wholesale unit prices. To get the best responses, be honest about what you're
looking for (don't try to sound "bigger" than you are), keep your emails short and to the
point, and be friendly.
Here how I would phrase a first contact email to potential wholesalers:
Hello, I'm starting a small <insert product line> store. What are your minimum order
requirements and wholesale prices? Thanks for your time! -Greg
Keys to that action packed 2-line email:
"small" -- This tells them the volume I expect to purchase from them. By pre-
qualifying myself, I don't waste their and my time.
"minimum order requirements and wholesale prices" -- This gets to the heart of the
matter. It's really all you care about in a retailer-supplier relationship. Make it clear
what you're asking for from them.
"Thanks" and "Greg" -- Be casual and friendly. Those are regular folks on the other
side too. Be friendly, and they'll be friendly and helpful.
BDC Financing: Starting up a business
What to Include:
1. An Executive Summary introducing your company, what you will do or provide to
the customer, and how the customer will benefit from what you propose.
2. A statement of work or technical approach describing what you will do or provide
to the customer. An implementation schedule and description of deliverables is
usually included. If products are being proposed, then product descriptions are
usually provided (the amount of detail depends on the customer’s requirements).
3. A management plan describing how you will organize and supervise any work to
be performed. A schedule of major milestones and allocation of resources may be
4. Corporate qualifications that describe your capability to do or provide what you
are proposing. Relevant prior experience is usually highlighted.
5. A Staffing Plan that describes how the project will be staffed is sometimes on
large service contracts. If particular people are important to the approach, their
resumes are usually provided.
6. Contracts and Pricing. If the proposal is being used to close a business deal, then
business and contractual terms are usually provided.
1. The goal of a proposal is to persuade --- here is what I want you to conclude, and
2. Most proposal evaluators don’t want to be there --- here is what I hope you’ll read
and here’s the obligatory detail that you’re not going to bother with.
3. A winning proposal is easy to evaluate. Picture the evaluator with a checklist in
hand going through your proposal --- check, check, check. State conclusions that
reflect the evaluation criteria, and then explain how or why.
Who: Who will do the work, who will manage the work, who does the customer call if
there is a problem, who is responsible for what
What: What needs to be done/delivered, what will be required to do it, what can the
customer expect, what will it cost
Where: Where will the work be done, where will it be delivered
How: How will the work be done, how will it be deployed, how will it be managed, how
will risks be mitigated, how long will it take, how will the work benefit the customer
When: when will you start, when will key milestones be scheduled, when will the project
be complete, when is payment due
Why: why have you chosen the approaches and alternatives you have selected, why the
customer should select you
Use as a checklist for reviewing a draft proposal
Business Permits and Licenses
Description Cost Renewal (Annual)
Business Incorporation $416.33 $108.62
Business Name, Sole Required by anyone who wants to carry on $62.89 $62.89
Proprietorship or business in Nova Scotia, either on their own or
Partnership: with partners, and who wants: 1) to operate
Registration without legally incorporating the business 2) to
use a business name that is different from their
personal name(s). A "sole proprietor" is anyone
who is carrying on a business which is not
incorporated and who is doing so without any
legal partners, that is, carrying on business by
oneself. In Nova Scotia, a sole proprietorship is
actually registered as a "partnership" -- but
with only one partner listed, in other words, it
is a partnership of one. Note: It is legal to carry
on business in Nova Scotia without getting this
Registration provided that you use only your
own personal name in your business dealings.
Individuals and firms whose primary business
registration is in the Province of New
Brunswick do not have to register their
business name in Nova Scotia in order to
legally operate in this province.
Some or all of the following may be required:
1) If the business will be retailing taxable goods
or services, they will need an HST
(Harmonized Sales Tax) Registration with
Canada Revenue Agency; 2) Most businesses
operating in Nova Scotia must pay Business
Occupancy Tax to the municipality where they
are located; 3) Within one week of opening, a
business must notify the Regional Director of
Assessment, Service Nova Scotia and
Municipal Relations; 4) If the business hires
any employees, it is responsible for deducting
and remitting personal income tax,
unemployment insurance premiums and
Canada Pension Plan deductions to Canada
Revenue Agency - Taxation.
Sign License A Sign Permit is required for any permanent $100 N/A
sign, either attached to a building or structure,
or free standing
Inspection required after
Business Name: Search Required by anyone who wants to find out if a $56.02 N/A
and Registration business name is already in use in Nova Scotia,
and/or wants to reserve a business name for
their own use. In Nova Scotia, having a
business name reserved by the Registry of
Joint Stock Companies is the first step in
registering that business name for use in Nova
Applications sent in by fax or by mail are
different: there is no free preliminary search.
The fee for the Business Name Reservation
must be paid in advance and is not refundable.
NUANS Search: If the preliminary search of
the Registry database of business names in use
in Nova Scotia does not reveal a potential
conflict, the applicant then submits a formal
"Business Name Reservation Request", along
with one name and the required fee (the fee is
good for only 1 name search). The proposed
name is then forwarded for the detailed
NUANS search. Federal Search: If you intend
to use your business name outside of the
Atlantic provinces, NUANS also offers an
option of searching all of Canada for potential
conflicts. This is called a "Federal" search. It is
your responsibility as the applicant to contact
the Registry (or Access Nova Scotia) to get the
results of that search.
Business Registration Most Businesses in Canada need to register N/A N/A
with Canada Revenue Agency to get a Business
Number. Registration is mandatory if your
business requires a GST/HST, Payroll,
Corporate income tax or Import/Export
account. Businesses are able to register online
using business registration online, over the
phone or by mail.
Business Registration: **Legal advice is recommended $182.94 $34.30
Required by anyone who wants to establish a
limited partnership in Nova Scotia. A "limited
partnership" is a partnership, which allows for
the liability of some of the partners to be
limited. Legal advice is recommended for
preparation of registration documents. Most
limited partnerships are formed for a specific
period of time, and cease to exist when that
period is finished.
Business: Name Search and Reservation: file
an application for registration of the limited
partnership. It is not the practice of the
Registry to register limited partnerships
without legal counsel on the part of the
applicants. The application form is not
available online. Some or all of the following
may be required: 1) If the business will be
retailing taxable goods or services, they will
need an HST Registration with Canada
Revenue Agency; 2) Most businesses operating
in Nova Scotia must pay Business Occupancy
Tax to the municipality where they are located;
3) Within one week of opening, a business
must notify the Regional Director of
Assessment. There is no waiting period if
applying in person. Waiting period is 6 - 10
business days if applying by mail.
Alarm Permit Any Burglary, Robbery or Fire Alarm System is N/A N/A
required to be registered with the municipality.
The goal of this registration is to reduce, and
hopefully eliminate, the number of false alarms
that currently take place.
On Site Sewage The installation of an on-site sewage disposal $60.87 $60.87
Disposal Approval system requires a permit/approval.
(To Minister of (Every 3 Years)
The application for approval must be
supported by an assessment and a selection or
design of an on-site sewage disposal system
that has been completed by a qualified person
certified by the Department. After the
application has been completed, it must be
submitted, along with the appropriate fee. If
the required supporting information has not
been provided, the application package is
returned with an explanation as to what is
missing. Once an application has been
accepted it is reviewed to ensure that the
activity being proposed meets the minimum
standards, policies, guidelines, procedures and
regulations that are administered by the
Department. If all the requirements are met
and the application is approved, the approval
will be sent to application contact by mail. This
approval will list any terms and conditions,
which the applicant must satisfy. If an
application fails to meet these criteria, staff will
notify the application contact. NSEL Inspectors
are authorized to conduct audits at any time
during the application, approval and
Water Meter Approval The Halifax Regional Water Commission must $30.00 N/A
approve any new connection to the municipal
water system. This approval will allow the
applicant to install a new water service and
trigger the HRWC to install a water meter.
Detailed plans must be submitted for review
and approval before the Permit may be issued.
Occupancy Permit Given that shoe stores typically occupy
commercial space, you will be required to get a
certificate of occupancy. Check with the permit
processing offices of your local government.
Note that you may be required to get a Building
Permit and have your property inspected if you
plan to make renovations to the store area.
TOTAL COST: $909.05 $678.21
(Every 3 years)
Example of Expenses:
Service Monthly Annual
Fees and accounting (licenses, permits, accounting)
Insurance (liability and loss due to fire, etc.)
Loan Payment (assume $50 000 was borrowed at %10 interest/annually)
Miscellaneous Expenses (office supplies, janitorial or cleaning services,
Total Fixed Expenses
Sales Required (Total Fixed Expenses/Gross Margin)
Design & Construction