Retail Store Opening Checklist: 30 Things You’ll Need

Your First Retail Store

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Thinking of opening your first retail store? No matter what you intend to sell, you’ll need a lot of different supplies to make your store look professional and welcoming to your customers. Below is a checklist of items that can get you started on building a retail store that customers will love.

Opening Your First Retail Store


People aren’t likely to visit your shop if they don’t know where it is and what you sell. When opening your first retail store, you’ll need at least one outdoor sign with your store name and logo. And you should also have some indoor signs indicating different items and categories so customers can easily find their way around.


Shelves are a pretty standard display solution for a variety of products. Certain types of clothes, books, music and plenty of other products can fit on them, giving customers an easy way to search for the products they’re looking for.

Clothing Racks

If you’re going sell pretty much any type of clothing when opening your first retail store, racks offer another display solution. They allow customers to more easily sift through certain types of clothing items that don’t lend themselves to sitting folded on a shelf.


If you’re going to have clothes hanging on racks, you’ll also need hangers to go with them.

Point-of-Sale Solution

opening your first retail store

In order to process payments after opening your first retail store, you’ll need a good point of sale solution. Some low cost options that process credit cards for small businesses include Square and Breadcrumb.

Cash Register

You’ll also need an actual cash register or at least a secure drawer to store money from cash transactions. Some POS systems come with these already. But if you’ve chosen a lower cost option for processing cards, you might need to buy this separately.

Pricing Gun

Unless you want to go through and individually write price tags for every single item in your store, a price gun is a must. Price guns allow you to input prices and easily print out tags for individual items.


Whether you prefer paper or plastic, you’ll need some kind of bag to offer customers upon completing their purchases. You can purchase generic shopping bags or order some with your store name and logo on them.

Display Cases

For expensive items or things you just want to show off to customers, glass display cases offer a great solution. They protect and display your items and can even serve double duty as a checkout area.

Rotating Racks

Smaller items like key chains, jewelry or even small books and CDs could be a good fit for spinning racks, those relatively small displays that customers can rotate to see different items.


Selling any sort of apparel or accessories when opening your first retail store means that you’ll need at least a few mirrors around so that customers can see the items they’re considering purchasing. Full-length mirrors should be mainly located near clothing items and smaller mirrors can go by accessories.


opening your first retail store

Clothing items that you really want to show off can really grab people’s attention if you place them on mannequins rather than shelves or racks. You can even place them in windows to draw new customers into the store.

Specialty Displays

Certain types of items will also require specialty displays. For example, there are plenty of different displays for necklaces and other jewelry items. Or you may need racks that are specific to DVDs or similar media.


You can use simple stickers in a variety of different ways in retail stores. If you’re having a sale, for instance, you can use different colored dots to indicate different discount levels or prices, rather than printing out all new price tags.

Giftwrapping Supplies

Customers that visit your store to buy gifts for others will appreciate if you offer gift bags or a simple box and wrapping paper complementary with their purchase.

Receipt Paper or Printer

You’ll also need to offer receipts with each purchase after opening your first retail store. A receipt printer might be part of your all-purpose POS system. But some smaller retail stores instead choose simple receipt pads that they can use to manually write out purchases.

Shopping Carts or Baskets

opening your first retail store

Your shoppers will need a way to carry their purchases through the store if they plan on buying multiple items. If you offer large items, you might need to offer shopping carts. But for smaller items, shopping baskets should do the trick.

Banners or Flags

If you’re having a sale, grand opening or other event, you’ll need decorations that will grab people’s attention. Pennants, flags or banners are popular solutions to hang outside of retail stores or as part of your displays.


Many stores offer seating areas near the entrance or in fitting room areas. And of course, you’ll also need a place for you and your employees to sit during down times.

Curtains or Room Dividers

If you’re going to offer a fitting room area, which can be beneficial if you sell any kind of clothing, you’ll need curtains or room dividers to close off the area.

Crowd Control Posts

Movable line posts can help you keep the line at your register organized and under control. You might only need them for special events or busy seasons, but you should keep them around just in case.

Warehouse Shelving

Pretty much every store has more inventory than what’s being displayed at any given moment. So you’ll also need some kind of shelving or organizing system to hold your extra items in a back room or behind your counter.

Cleaning Supplies

opening your first retail store

No customer wants to shop in a dirty environment. So you’ll need at least some basic cleaning supplies to keep your floors, shelves and items sparkling clean when opening your first retail store.


Even stores that do most of their selling in-person need a website so that people can actually find the store and learn a bit about the items for sale.

Social Media Presence

Social media has become essential for businesses to reach out to target customers. For local retail stores, social media gives you an outlet for updating nearby customers about new items, sales and other promotions.

eCommerce Site

Selling items online, in addition to in your store, can really expand your customer base. Aside from making your items available to people outside your immediate geographical location, having an eCommerce site can also allow you to offer a wider variety of items and satisfy customers that just prefer to shop online.

Shipping Materials

Offering products online means that you’ll need to be able to ship them. So you’ll need boxes, envelopes, protective wrapping and any other supplies that will allow you to safely ship whatever items you sell.

Shipping Account

To make the shipping process easier, you should also set up an account with a shipping provider. UPS, FedEx and USPS all offer solutions for businesses that ship packages on a regular basis. Having an existing account can save you time and even money on the shipping process.

A Nearby Bank with After-Hours Deposit

After your store closes for the day, you’ll need a place to deposit all of the money you brought in that day. Set up an account with a bank that’s close to your store and offers after-hours deposit services so that you won’t have to keep that money secure overnight.

Security System

opening your first retail store

Once you’ve built up your inventory and purchased all of these supplies, the last thing you’d want is for anything to happen to them. A security system with cameras and alarms can help protect your items from theft and more.

Retail Store Opening Checklist

Outdoor Sign[ ]
Indoor Signs[ ]
Shelves[ ]
Clothing Racks[ ]
Hangers[ ]
Point-of-Sale Solution[ ]
Cash Register[ ]
Pricing Gun[ ]
Bags[ ]
Display Cases[ ]
Rotating Racks[ ]
Mirrors[ ]
Mannequins[ ]
Specialty Displays[ ]
Stickers[ ]
Giftwrapping Supplies[ ]
Receipt Paper or Printer[ ]
Shopping Carts or Baskets[ ]
Banners or Flags[ ]
Chairs[ ]
Curtains or Room Dividers[ ]
Crowd Control Posts[ ]
Warehouse Shelving[ ]
Cleaning Supplies[ ]
Website[ ]
Social Media Presence[ ]
eCommerce Site[ ]
Shipping Materials[ ]
Shipping Account[ ]
Nearby Bank with After-Hours Deposit[ ]
Security System[ ]

Tips for Opening Your First Retail Store

Opening your first retail store is an exciting venture, marking the beginning of a new chapter in your entrepreneurial journey. However, to ensure a successful start, there are critical steps and considerations to keep in mind.

Here are five essential tips to guide you as you embark on this adventure.

  • Location, Location, Location: The success of a retail store often hinges on its location. Ensure you choose a spot that aligns with your target audience’s demographics, has good foot traffic, and is easily accessible.
  • Invest in a Memorable Store Design: First impressions matter. Design a store layout that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. This will enhance the shopping experience and encourage customers to return.
  • Conduct Market Research: Understand the needs and preferences of your target audience. This will help in selecting the right products to stock and pricing them competitively.
  • Embrace Technology and E-commerce: In today’s digital age, integrating technology into your retail store is crucial. Consider setting up an e-commerce website to complement your physical store, allowing customers to shop online. Utilize digital tools for inventory tracking, sales analytics, and customer relationship management to enhance operational efficiency.
  • Develop a Strong Brand Identity: Your store’s brand should resonate with your target audience and differentiate you from competitors. This involves creating a compelling logo, choosing a consistent color scheme, and developing a unique voice for your marketing materials. A strong brand identity helps in building customer loyalty and recognition.
  • Focus on Visual Merchandising: The way products are displayed in your store plays a significant role in attracting customers and boosting sales. Invest time in visual merchandising by creating eye-catching displays, organizing products logically, and regularly updating your store’s layout to keep it fresh and engaging.
  • Create an Omnichannel Experience: Offer a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels – in-store, online, and mobile. Ensure that customers receive the same level of service and product availability whether they shop in your physical store or on your website. An omnichannel approach can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Plan for Financial Management: Sound financial planning is critical for the sustainability of your retail store. Keep track of your expenses, sales, and profits meticulously. Understand your cash flow and plan your budget wisely. Don’t forget to set aside funds for unexpected expenses and future expansions.
  • Implement Effective Inventory Management: Efficient inventory management ensures you don’t overstock or understock. Utilize modern inventory systems to track stock levels, forecast demands, and identify sales trends.
  • Prioritize Customer Service: Excellent customer service can differentiate your store from competitors. Train your staff to be helpful, knowledgeable, and courteous, ensuring every visitor leaves with a positive experience.

Storefront, Point-of-Sale, Mannequins, Shopping Carts, Shopping Carts, Cleaning Supplies, Security Camera Photos via Shutterstock


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.

11 Reactions
  1. I don’t think you need hangers for other types of products. Is this just for clothes in particular? If it is, then it should be indicated. The list of must-haves must be applicable to any type of retail store.

  2. Thank you Annie Pilon.
    I am definitely saving this page for when I open my next store as the current one is too small for some of these things to fit into.
    The cameras are a must for boutiques and large supermarkets.

  3. I can imagine if you were starting a retail store you would need lots of supplies. Simple things like all the things listed in this article. I think the most important thing to remember is the point-of-sale processor since more and more people are paying with cards nowadays.

  4. Can i open shop for different products such as selling books and electronics items from my one shop? Did i require to register for both books and electronics items two times for both or single time registration?

  5. thank you so much…. am start my retail store next week and reading though this makes me think there is much more that my shop needs. thanks a loot for this post. and please if you have other tips business related do email me

  6. What about how to set up the basic things like phone,credit card processor, security, and wifi all thru your wifi’s router to save on the cost of extra phone lines, This was new to me and I’ve been in business over 50 yrs. Very useful to the new and old small business operators.

  7. Thank you for telling me that I should also include shelving in the list of things I need to have before opening my first retail store and how I should come up with a good organizing system for all of my products. My sister and I are planning to start our own clothing line since we are both into fashion and everyone in the family knows how to sew. Aside from the things you’ve included in your article, we also think that the location we’ll choose for our first branch is very important so we’ll contact experts in site selection before renting a commercial property.

  8. I feel like having a sort of safe outside of your cash drawer should be something a lot of businesses need.

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