How to Buy Wholesale Clothing For Your Boutique

Possibly the most important aspect of running a boutique business will be the suppliers you choose.

In this article we will hit all of the important points from what licenses you will need, to where you can find wholesalers and finally how you can determine what vendors will be a good match.

The Power of the Small Boutique Is Strong

You may have walked into a local big box store and thought, there is no chance I can compete with their selection and prices. If thats the case then think again, the boutique industry thrives for a reason, let's explore three competitive advantages:

  1. Each month tens of thousands of boutiques collectively purchase from a fairly small group of manufacturers and suppliers that strictly supply boutiques.  These suppliers are able to bulk manufacturing their clothing and achieve low prices that they can then offer to every boutique big and small. (It's kind of like we all work together as individual bees collectively purchasing in a swarm..that make sense?)
  2. You can have any trend.. like tomorrow.  Literally, the moment a new trend comes off the tables you can have it expedited to your shop within a day or two. Unlike big box stores who do their purchasing months in advance, boutiques purchase week to week, staying on top of the trends much more easily.
  3. We help each other (just like those bees.) Ross, TJMaxx and Target on the other hand keep their competitive data to themselves. You will find that this industry has a ton of women who will be glad to tell you where they shop and how they are achieving success. 

Ok ok, you want to look at some clothing right?

Here is how you can find some suppliers and start browsing. If you haven't already, please start with my boutique supplier list and then you can google wholesale clothing suppliers and begin a more extensive search.  In fact finding suppliers isn't the hard part as you already know, it's who to choose (we'll go over that in a bit.)

I will let you in on a little knowledge, no matter which online marketplace (website) you come across, it's likely that all of them contain the same suppliers. 

The online wholesale world is evolving and its hard to keep up with what website is the "go to,"  but with that said, I couldn't help but notice that the same suppliers that show up to the fashion events are the same ones that encompass the 3-4 popular online wholesale platforms.  

Any Trick In Selecting A Wholesaler?

Not really, some are more on top of shipping times (this can be important during, ie. Christmas, Valentines) but you will find that each supplier caters to different geographies of the USA. This is the beauty of the industry, each supplier tailors a unique and specific look to certain parts of the country. Whether it be coastal, junior, mid west or deep south looks, you can easily find 3-4 great suppliers that will provide you more than enough selection.

What licenses do I need?

For buying wholesale not many, usually just two, a sellers permit and business license. Every state is unique in how you acquire these licenses so my advice is to do some google searches like the following: ( "your state" business license registration and sellers permit.) Try to get on the phone with someone and have them walk you through the steps required to get these licenses.

Do I pay taxes on wholesale?

No. In general the government only takes taxes from transactions that result in a profit. Thus the manufacturer will have to pay taxes but you won't. You will pay them later on the transaction between you and your customer.

Online or in Person Buying?

Online ordering gives you the ability to stay on top of the trends and makes the ordering process seamless. Also your access to clothing and new potential vendors is larger.

With that said, there still is a necessity for boutiques to visit trade shows and meet with suppliers and other boutique owners. Events like the Magic Show by UBM and the Off Price Show in Vegas for example are rich with information that one is unable to garner online.

So the answer, if you can, is do both!

Below are some videos I collected that go over some more information that will help.