A fitness apparel business is a retail establishment that sells shoes, apparel, and equipment designed for athletic consumers. Products are sold on a local level and to online shoppers. These businesses support local athletes through community events and offer advice regarding the ideal products for their customer’s individual needs.
Learn how to start your own Fitness Apparel Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start a fitness apparel business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your fitness apparel business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly, and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
What are the startup and ongoing costs?
Who is your target market?
How much can you charge customers?
What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a fitness apparel business?
Successful fitness apparel shop owners report a starting capital of $50,000 to $350,000, depending upon the size, amount of inventory, and geographical location. Manage start-up costs by investing in a modest location of 2000 square feet or less. As you get to know your customers, you will gain a deeper understanding of their needs and expand accordingly.
Once a location has been chosen, you will need to fill the space. Fixtures, business management software, and specialized equipment such as a foot and gait analysis system should all be included in your initial budget. Inventory should include apparel, footwear, accessories, and exercise equipment. A marketing strategy will help boost your business and a simple, yet intuitive website will keep the community informed and allow you to reach customers on a national level.
What are the ongoing expenses for a fitness apparel business?
Industry leaders report monthly expenses ranging from between $4,500 and $21,000. The size of your store will define utilities and insurance costs and influence the amount of merchandise you will need to keep in stock.
Who is the target market?
When developing your marketing strategy, target athletes of all skill levels and financial means. This includes everyone from the high school tennis player to the ultra-marathoner. Runners are known for investing a great deal of time and money in their sport, so shop owners are encouraged to specifically target the running community in their advertising efforts.
How does a fitness apparel business make money?
A fitness apparel store generates revenue from the sale of each item. While a large portion of your sales will come from local consumers, an online store will extend your reach to athletes outside of the community.
How much can you charge customers?
Pricing varies from product to product. In addition to inventory cost, overhead expenses should be taken into account when setting an item price. If you are inexperienced in this aspect of the business, consult with your vendors for advice.
How much profit can a fitness apparel business make?
While many retail stores realize a profit in the first year, it typically takes three years to build a well-established business. Store owners who are committed to the community and maintain a pulse on the latest trends report a profit of over $76,000 after the third year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
To boost profits, your inventory should include items with a higher profit margin, such as compression garments and insoles. Hosting educational workshops, fitness classes, and guest speakers will help bring both current and prospective customers, boosting sales in the process. Lastly, sponsor local sporting events as part of your community involvement. It is satisfying to see your business’ name on t-shirts and event advertisements and is a great way to boost visibility.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Fitness Apparel Business Name Generator
If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
Your state's business records
Federal and state trademark records
Social media platforms
Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
Find a Domain Now
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your fitness apparel business issued.
Select Your State
Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes, you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
A cube with LLC printed on its sides
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and another financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
A cube with LLC printed on its sides
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Get a business credit card
This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
Recommended: Read our guide to find the best small business credit cards.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
How to promote & market a fitness apparel business
When developing your business plan, research what sports are most popular in your community. Get to know them on a personal and professional level, noting what needs are not currently being met. This will assist you in ordering inventory and allow for a more targeted marketing strategy. While printed and online advertising will prove beneficial, the best gift you can give is your time and attention. Organize group runs, host special events at your store, and sponsor local sporting events. Your commitment to their cause will boost your reputation and spark a deep commitment from the athletes you cater to.
How to keep customers coming back
Word of mouth can either make or break a business. Your involvement, strong customer service, and knowledge will go a long way towards building community support. These things, along with an inspiring disposition, will position you as a fitness leader, ensuring your store is the first name that comes to mind when people look for that new pair of workout gloves or shoes.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Fitness Apparel Business In Your State
A cube with LLC printed on its sides
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
You and your staff will spend much of the day interacting with customers. You will consult with them regarding their unique needs, offering guidance on everything from the best shoe for their gait to nutrition and training schedules. The most successful fitness apparel stores draw athletes throughout the community, offering a place to gather and meet other like-minded individuals. Therefore, downtime should be spent creating an environment that encourages athletes of all kinds to participate and interact. Additionally, inventory is tracked daily and orders are placed on an as-needed basis. The store must be clean and well-maintained, with displays changed out regularly. Your customers are looking to you for guidance, so researching industry developments and trends should also be an integral part of your team’s day.
Interaction with customers, vendors, and your staff will be an integral part of each day. Therefore, strong interpersonal and communication skills, coupled with business acumen, will help set you up for success. Your commitment to customer service and fitness will help you integrate into this tight-knit community, building a loyal customer base along the way. Those considering entering this business venture are encouraged to work in a similar setting. This real-world experience will help you gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies involved in owning a retail store and offer networking opportunities along the way.
Most athletes are drawn to the individualized attention they receive when visiting a small, locally-owned store. For this reason, many store owners concentrate on keeping their shop small, opening additional stores based on community needs. With the right vision and branding, entrepreneurs looking to expand further can open stores across the country and even offer franchising opportunities to other aspiring fitness apparel store owners.
Los Angeles-based exercise gear and leggings maker, Alo Yoga, has established itself as a favorite among yoga-lovers and female celebrities, topping the list of fastest-growing athleisure sites for the months of March and July in the United States. Alo Yoga’s average web traffic was up 131% from 3.1M visits in March-July 2020 to 3.7M in the same timeframe the following year.
As seen above, the athleisure brand grew in both organic and paid search. While direct traffic makes up the lion’s share of traffic (566K), paid search (488K) and organic search (482K) are close behind, growing by a whopping 229% and 129%, respectively. Display ads also experienced a substantial growth of 321%
Lululemon has been around for over twenty years but just recently became one of the most in-demand activewear retailers in the world. Headquartered in Vancouver, the multibillion-dollar brand has proven over the past few months that it can keep up with the trend, delivering an annual growth rate that is on par with agile and fast-moving direct-to-consumer brands. Despite having 6.3M monthly visitors, Lululemon managed to grow 50.5% YoY, positioning itself as the sixth fastest-growing athleisure brand.
When we analyzed the top three marketing channels that drive traffic to Lululemon’s site, we saw increased consumer interest, coupled with paid acquisition efforts. This is something we see time and time again for sites that make our fastest-growing lists. Yes, consumer demand is driving traffic, but what separates good from great is the know-how to double down on paid search.
Lululemon’s recent decision to acquire at-home fitness company, Mirror, for $500 million further attests to its high-level strategic prioritization of this product segment.
It seems like Gymshark – a $1.3 billion brand – is appearing in the news more and more lately. While based in England, the athletics clothing brand now receives the most significant share of traffic from the U.S. (39%), with the U.K. being the second-largest geography (16%). Gymshark’s global approach has lent itself well to extreme growth: it’s rare to see such a diverse country set for a site the size of Gymshark (4M average monthly visits, worldwide).
By diversifying across many markets, they are not only experiencing short-term benefits but also mitigating risk and creating a runway for future expansion. Interestingly, much of this growth seems to be happening organically: worldwide direct traffic (+34%) and organic search (+48%) have increased significantly in March-July 2020, YoY.
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