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How to Open a Pageant Dress Shop

by Joseph Petrick, studioD

A pageant dress shop can be an exciting and profitable venture. The Miss USA-sponsored pageant, for instance, has thousands of participants each year, and there are more than 15 small circuits, each with competitions from a local to national level. Therefore, operating a pageant dress shop requires the ability to market yourself and separate your business from the rest. To run a successful pageant shop, you will need a strong sense of business, commitment and excellent social skills. You should also have a pleasant personality and patience to deal with anxious customers preparing for pageants. Several valuable steps will be necessary in order to open your new pageant dress shop.


Managing a pageant shop is as competitive as the competition itself. You need to understand what the pageant industry is doing right now, how seasons affect dress styles and what themes are present in pageant events. For example, dresses for glitz pageants are more sophisticated while hobby and scholastic pageant dresses are more basic and less expensive. The age group of the pageants also determines the type of dresses they wear. Pick your target market by using statistics from pageant organizers or conducting your own informal survey to determine the types of pageant events common in your area. You can focus on one type of clientele or combine several of them to expand your customer base. For example, you can focus on pageants for ages 5 to 12, but stock outfits with different themes such as talent, patriotic and dance.

Business Plan

After you have a well conceptualized idea of the type of pageant dresses you want to sell, it's important to write a business plan. It allows you to implement the stages of setting up your shop in order of priority. When writing a business plan, outline your sales strategy such as having discounted prices, networking plans like having a Facebook and Twitter page, sources of funds, growth plan and your management structure. Provide financial projections if you plan to seek funding from external sources such as a financial institution. Also, identify your competitors and use their weaknesses as an opportunity.

Register Your Business

The government requires entrepreneurs to comply with registration, licensing and taxation laws in the country. You will need to register your business with your county clerk’s office and get a Federal Tax Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service in your state. You can also trademark your business name or logo to distinguish your pageant dress shop with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Find a Location

Find a retail location that is close to a pageant event center or in a mall that hosts pageant stylists and consultancies. Place signage in front of the shop and ensure that it is visible to people walking or driving by. Make sure your shop is spacious enough to allow you to display as many of your products as you can in an attractive manner, which will help you attract more walk-in customers. Set up a fitting room and plan for in-house tailoring if you choose to do it yourself.

Set Up the Shop

Find wholesale suppliers from print publications on pageant dresses and by visiting trade shows, or online through trade lead sites and general search engines such as Google. You can work with manufacturers directly or their regional wholesalers. For a pleasant display, buy mannequins and have proper lighting in your shop. Use friends, relatives and consultancies to build a broad network with pageant trainers and advisers. You can also speak with people in the industry about getting your business put on their preferred vendor list. Also, develop a professional website to allow you to reach clients beyond your physical location. If your budget allows, advertise on pageant websites and in pageant magazines. You can also volunteer to sponsor pageants in order to showcase your work.

About the Author

Joseph Petrick has been a writer and editor since 2003. He writes career, business and education articles. His work has appeared in several online publications including Career Today. Petrick holds a Master of Arts in philosophy/economic anthropology from Pennsylvania State University.

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