Build Your Business:

Targeting Specialty Store Markets

By Josh Ellsworth, Contributing Writer

October 10, 2017

If you are primarily a custom decorator, a great way to increase sales is by reaching out to independent retail stores and boutiques with products specific to their customer base. While you might be offering some personalization, you also can increase your sales by creating a line of preprinted garments that a store will buy from you on a wholesale basis.

Here are some tips on how to get started:

Choose A Niche. The first step in this process is to choose what market you’d like to target. It might be related to a personal hobby like sailing, horses or music. The more you know about this niche already, the better.

Identify the Core Customer. Next you want to get the basic demographics on who buys products from this store. For example, if you decided on children’s boutiques, buyers are likely to be mothers, aunts, sisters and grandmothers.

When Do They Buy? When are the store’s busy seasons and what activities, events and holidays are triggering sales? Using the children’s store as an example, it would be safe to assume that some time periods may include back to school in August, Christmas in December and perhaps Easter in April.

Why Do They Buy? Find out if most customers buy gifts or are they buying for their own children? Why are they choosing a boutique vs. a mass merchandiser? What type of merchandise are they looking for that they can’t find anywhere else?

This gives you some idea of the type of information you want to find out. You’ll also want to determine what price range will be acceptable to this market.
While you may be able to use the internet for some direction in terms of popular children’s designs and styles, you’ll also need to plan on spending some time in the store itself observing who comes in and what they buy. You will be able to cull some good intel from the store owner, and observing first hand will be invaluable and spark ideas.

With this information, you’ll be ready to move on to the next step, which is choosing styles, designs, branding and preparing a presentation to your target store.

Josh Ellsworth is general manager for Stahls’ CAD-CUT Direct. Stahls’, a GroupeSTAHL company, is a world leader specializing in the development, manufacturing and distribution of heat-printing technologies. Stahls’ provides customers with the most cost effective and efficient ways to decorate garments. Stahls’ is located in Sterling Heights, Mich., with GroupeSTAHL operations located throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Subscribe to the Stahls’ TV Blog for weekly updates every Thursday and the newest Project Press It tutorial featuring out-of-the-box concepts and check out previous editions for more ideas and inspiration. For more information, go to, call 800.4.STAHLS, or email