If there is one thing that is true about weddings, it’s that people spend a lot of money on them. No doubt in the wedding industry there is a lot of money to be made, especially by opening a bridal shop. Bridal shops can be a lucrative business opportunity, but how much does it cost to open a bridal shop?
On average, it costs about $250,000 to open a medium-sized bridal shop in most US cities. This number is an estimate based on the average cost for retail space, inventory, licensing, legal expenses, business registration, and other operational costs. In areas with higher property values of inventory costs, this number might be closer to $300,000 – $400,000. Business costs can also vary based on the kind of inventory you stock.
Bridal shops sell all kinds of accessories and dresses for brides on their special days. So people will pay good money to make sure their wedding has the best amenities. The average wedding dress costs over $1,000, so there is money to be made. However, you need to get the start-up funds first. So we put together this detailed guide on all the costs to open a bridal shop.
- Bridal Shop Costs
- Other One-Time Expenses
- How Much Can a Bridal Shop Make?
- What are the Pros and Cons of Opening A Bridal Shop?
- Final Words
Bridal Shop Costs
All things considered, bridal shops fall in the middle of the spectrum in terms of startup costs. According to Forbes, the average business owner pays about $100,000 to open a retail store. Some stores cost very little to open but others might be very expensive, so bridal shops fall in the middle of the spectrum.
One main reason why bridal shops have relatively low expenses is that they do not have any special licensing requirements, unlike something like a restaurant. Most bridal shops are single outlet stores and the startup for inventory is not as high as something like a furniture store. Some kinds of inventory (i.e. wedding dresses) might be expensive to source but others will not be.
However, there is a lot of competition in the industry. Bridal shops compete for a limited number of weddings per year and the business comes in seasons. Most shops are small to medium-sized and focus on providing services to the local community.
Here is a detailed breakdown of the estimated costs for starting a bridal shop.
Location Cost ($40,000)
Location is the most important thing to consider for any business. No matter what type of bridal shop you are opening up, location is number one.
First off, you will need a storefront rental space. There are many things to consider when looking at locations, so speak with a real estate agent about different options available in your area.
It’s also important to see how many employees you will need for the business and parking availability.
Expect to pay around $2,000 per month for a reasonable-sized storefront in a good location. Depending on your city and location, these costs can range from $700 – $5000 per month.
A decent small store is about 1,500 square feet in area. Assuming an average of $26 per square foot of space per year, that comes out to about $40,000 a year for retail space.
These costs can be lower or higher depending on the size of your store and the location. $26 per square foot is a bit on the higher side, and you could potentially get as low as $10 per square foot depending on where you set up shop. However, you need to be in a space that gets good traffic and visibility, especially for something like a bridal shop. So sometimes the higher real estate costs are worth it.
Also, where is your customer base going to be? Is there a high volume of brides in the area who would benefit from a bridal shop? When you have identified your perfect location, it’s time to look for a storefront rental space.
Inventory Costs ($20,000 – $100,000)
Inventory will probably be the single most expensive startup cost for a bridal shop. The average wedding dress can go for more than $1,000 so that alone could cost a lot to stock and sell. Bridal shops generally operate on a markup basis so you will have to sell the merchandise above what you bought it for at wholesale. Other kinds of items include jewelry, decorations, shoes, and other wedding accessories.
This is where you can get creative and make your inventory line unique. You want to set yourself apart from the competition and offer something that nobody else has.
There are many different types of dresses to choose from when starting a bridal shop. It’s important to be knowledgeable about all options available.
Here are some of the most popular types of inventory you will carry in your store.
This type of dress has a slim skirt and fits tightly around the chest, waist, and hips before flaring out around the knees.
Many A-lines have princess seams that run down the front of the dress and often feature a bateau (horizontal) neckline. This helps to create an elongated look for the neck and chest area.
A-line dresses will cost you around $300 wholesale and retail for about $1250.
The skirt of this style is full of lots of volumes, making it perfect for dancing all night long at your wedding reception.
This style works well on most body types and is popular with brides. However, because of the volume, it may not be as popular if you’re only selling to a select few who do not have the body type for this style.
Ball gowns will cost you an average of $450 wholesale and retail for around $2100.
Fit and Flare
This style produces a slimming effect, giving off many hearts. Many dresses from top designers are made from this silhouette.
The best fit and flares are cut at or below the knee. It is important to note, that if you do not have a tapered calf, this silhouette may be unflattering to your customers.
Fit and flare will cost you an average of $150 wholesale and retails for around $900.
This style hugs tightly around the hips before flaring out just above the knees. Unlike other dresses that hug tightly around the hips, mermaids are cut on the bias. This means that when you put it on, it will contour all the right curves.
Mermaid dresses will cost you an average of $625 wholesale and retail for around $2500.
If you decide to allow people to rent dresses and tuxedos, the average rental to your customer will be $300. These prices can range from $150 to $1,500, depending on what style someone rents from you.
This style is extremely popular with all brides because it can accentuate a tiny waist and emphasize hips in the most flattering way possible.
Insurance – $2,400
Every business needs insurance. Insurance for a bridal store would include liability insurance, property insurance for the retail space, and workers’ compensation in case of injuries at work. You need to set aside enough money for at least 12 months of insurance.
Our estimation was calculated assuming a low insurance cost of $200 per month. Bridal shops often do not have to carry much insurance so these costs should be relatively low.
Marketing ($2500 Per Month)
No business is complete without marketing. Marketing for a bridal store could include physical promotional materials like posters or handouts or digital campaigns like an email marketing scheme. Marketing costs can vary from low to high depending on what kind of marketing you do.
For example, physical advertising might cost more than digital ad placements or social media advertising. In our experience, the best kind of marketing for a bridal store would be social media and through retail partners.
Your marketing budget will vary depending on your location and how you plan to spend your money. You need to create a brand identity that customers can quickly identify.
You should expect about $1,000 – $2,500 per month for marketing expenses. You may want to invest in online advertising, which can cost you an average of $75 per lead.
You may also want to think about yard signs and flyers, which can cost you between $500 and $2,000 depending on the area you live in and the number of flyers needed.
It is crucial to advertise in your local area continuously, so customers will know that your store is there.
Wages ($60,000 Per Year)
The average number of employees a bridal shop typically needs is 3. Overhead costs will increase if you plan to sell your inventory at retail price and hire sales associates.
An average employee will cost you $22,000 per year for a part-time employee and $34,000 for a full-time employee.
If you plan to hire more than one full-time employee, you will incur additional insurance and business expenses. These employee insurance expenses can cost you about $2000 per year for each employee.
The average hourly wage is $15, with the range between $10-25/hr.
Initial costs for professional fees are an average of $5,000. If you decide to hire a specialist like a seamstress, this will cost you an average of $60,000 per year.
It is also a good idea to have employee compensation insurance for your employees. This will help protect your business if an employee should ever be hurt or injured on the job. It will cost you, on average, $84 per month for this insurance.
Having a seamstress allows you to upsell for customizations and adjustments. These fees can help add margin and pay for the seamstress’s higher salary.
When it comes to taxes, you will need to think about the following:
- Sales Tax
- Employee’s Withholding Taxes
- Business Property Taxes
- Corporation Taxes
- Other State, Local, or Federal Taxes.
The average cost of taxes for a small business is 19.8%.
If you plan on hiring employees, you should expect to pay a withholding tax of about 25-30%.
The average cost of insurance for a bridal shop is 10% of the total revenue. This rate will vary depending on store location, the number of employees you have, and the size of the inventory in your store.
Other One-Time Expenses
Consulting – $2,500
This is mostly an optional cost, but it can sometimes help to have a set of professional eyes look over your business plan and expected revenue projections. A consultant can run the gamut from fairly cheap to very expensive depending on the agency you hire. You also do not need to hire any consulting at all.
Legal Expenses – $3,000
Every business will incur legal expenses and a bridal shop is no exception. Bridal shops will need legal representation to get licenses and register as a business entity with the IRS. Also, legal expenses will cover the cost of incorporation and any other licensing fees.
Remodeling – $20,000
Depending on the kind of space you get, you may need to remodel. Remodeling for a bridal shop involves installing things like coat racks, shoe racks, shelving, and other display spots. You also need a showroom.
Utility Deposits – $1,500
Basic utilities for retail space are included here, such as electricity, gas, internet, and water/sewage costs. Monthly utility costs should not eat up too much of your budget.
Store Equipment – $15,000
Store equipment for a bridal shop would include things like a register, POS system, other computer hardware for processing payments, software for accounting, and other equipment necessary to run a retail shop.
Website Costs – $1,000
Every business needs a website. If you know how to make a website, you can cut costs significantly by buying a domain and building it yourself. However, most will opt to hire a developer and team to create a professional-looking website and social media profiles.
Fixtures – $4,000
Fixtures for a bridal store include things like furniture and other gadgets like phones, printers, any sound systems, and tables. These costs can vary significantly.
For example, you generally don’t need printers or sound systems and if your store is small enough you can get away without any tables. You will definitely at least need some chairs though.
Miscellaneous Costs – $5,000
Miscellaneous costs include any other random one-time costs for running a business. Some miscellaneous business costs might include transportation, work clothing, bank fees, small purchase, or other petty cash expenses. Make sure you factor in these costs when creating your business plan and budget.
These costs should give a rough estimate. We would highly recommend adding about $20,000 to $50,000 for an extra cushion. So then you are sitting at an average investment of about $250,000 to open a bridal shop.
Again, these costs are averages and might cost more or less depending on your store. A smaller boutique is going to incur fewer real estate expenses than a big bridal warehouse or department store. If you only want to stock the most high-end luxury wedding dresses, then you better plan to invest more in your inventory.
How Much Can a Bridal Shop Make?
We couldn’t find reliable data about bridal shop owner salaries, but fashion boutique owners in the general report an average annual salary between $70,000 and $92,000. Successful owners can easily clear over $100,000 if their merchandise sells well.
With respect to revenue, a local bridal store can pull in anywhere between $100,000 to $1 million+ per year. Giant bridal warehouses and superstores may clear hundreds of millions in sales per year, but the vast majority (95%) of bridal salons in the US are independently owned and operated.
So, it is less likely you will find yourself competing with giant bridal superstores and more likely you will compete with other small business owners. This is good for business as it means you and your competitors are less likely to be ousted by a large superstore.
What are the Pros and Cons of Opening A Bridal Shop?
There are many pros to opening up your bridal shop.
First off, bridal shops generally have flexible hours.
You can open up early in the morning or later at night, which is great for customers who are more inclined to get their shopping done earlier in the day or need to shop later after a workday.
The cons of opening up a bridal shop are that the profit margins are low, on average 5-15%. This can be due to the initial inventory cost and because brides can only wear their dress once.
So while you are selling a high-end product, it has a short length of utility to the customer.
Bridal shops are simple businesses to startup and provide great flexibility, so many people choose to open bridal shops over other retail options.
Bridal stores are a lucrative business in today’s world. If you open a bridal store, you will face a lot of competition from local stores, but there is a large market share to capture for your location. Plus, opening a bridal store will let you help others plan for their special day.
The good news is that opening a bridal store is a lot more affordable than several other kinds of retail spots. You could feasibly finance a small bridal shop without a business loan, which means there is much less risk involved. When it comes to costs, just make sure that you have your basics covered.