Biting the Bullet and Opening a Boutique
There are 8-10,000 yoga studios in the US right now and probably less than half of those sell any products to their students. However, this number is growing every year as more studio owners realize that retail sales not only help your studio’s bottom line profitability, but you actually also have the opportunity to help your students get the gear they need to help their practice. Retail space can also easily become a community space where people hang out before and after class.
When I talk to studio owners almost all say some variation of the following: “I would love to open a boutique, but . . . “ If you have thought about this, you have probably thought of all the reasons not to do it: no staff, no space, no sales tax license, no cash register or no idea how to start! Thinking about all these is actually a little discouraging, but if you break them down into smaller pieces, the solutions are not that hard.
How to Get Started
First off, I would start small and just bring in a few basic products. Think about what products your students need. Mats are the easiest place to start. Everyone needs a mat and even if you have studio mats, most people prefer to have their own mat rather use a mat that 20 other people may have used that week. Similarly, if you have a hot studio, towels are key. People are less fussy about blocks, blankets and bolsters. After these essentials, you can think about some accessories (studio branded water bottles or t-shirts) and basic apparel. People are coming to your studio because of you and your teachers so carry what you and your teachers like. Start with just a few styles, sizes and colors
As there are so many cashless options (Paypal, Venmo, Squareup) right now, this is very easy to address. You probably see some version of Squareup at a small business every week. Squareup provides a free card reader that attaches to your phone or ipad to take credit card payments and does a great job of tracking sales.
Sales Tax License
Again, this is easier than you would think. Simply go to your State's Department of Revenue website, search for the “Sales and Use Tax” section of the website and register your business. Done!
This could be the hardest piece as every studio is different. However, you can easily display a dozen yoga mats in less than two square feet of floor space. If you have space, you can hang a few shelves for accessories and t-shirts. As you grow, you can add a rack for clothes.
If you don’t already have someone who can make sales, pay your teacher a small commission and they will be happy to get there 15 minutes early and stay a few minutes late to make a little extra money – and they will do a great job with products they believe in.
That is it! You are in the retail business. Good luck!