If you want to start a retail store that sells clothes and wears to consumers, you need to find reliable sources for those products; especially if you want to create a sustainable income. In other words you will need to find reputable clothing wholesalers and distributors to work with.

However, finding and forming a trusted relationship with the right wholesale clothing suppliers can be more difficult than you think, unless you have already done some research and have an idea of what to expect. If you are trying to find wholesale suppliers for your clothing retail store and enter into long-term, hitch-free business relationships with them, the following tips will help you make that happen:

NB-: This article was culled from: “The Complete Guide to Starting a T-Shirt Business Online from Scratch.”

How to Find Wholesale Clothing Suppliers for Your Clothing Retail Store

1. Set up your business properly and legitimately

First, you must bear in mind that no wholesaler will want to do business with you if your business is not properly set up within the law—because they are aware that if you run into problems with the law, they might not be spared. So, you need to ensure that you take all steps perfectly.

Register your business name with the appropriate local agency. Obtain all necessary licenses and permits that apply in your state or country. Fulfill your tax obligations. Complete all your legal paperwork. And follow due process when acquiring a location for your business.

2. Understand the wholesale business

Before proceeding to deal with wholesalers, you need to understand the types of wholesalers there are as well as how they operate. This will help you make well-informed choices and decisions.

There are different type of wholesalers based on their size, distribution channels, and supply chains. As the owner of a new clothing retail store, you are unlikely to be able to buy directly from a high-volume wholesaler, because your initial sales volume won’t support buying in bulk. You will need to find smaller wholesale distributors who will gladly sell smaller volumes. As your sales volume grows, you can deal with bigger wholesalers and demand better wholesale volumes.

3. Start finding wholesalers

Having set up your business correctly and understood wholesalers and their modes of operation, you can start finding the right wholesalers for your clothing retails store.

If you know of reputable clothing retail stores in your locale, you should check their merchandise. This will give you an idea of what stock you need and which merchandise appears to be in vogue. So, you can quickly figure out what their best selling stock is. And if you are not a direct competitor to that store, you can ask the business owner about where they source their stock and ask for wholesale recommendations.

Clothing manufacturers can also direct you to wholesalers of their products if they don’t sell wholesale themselves or cannot sell to you because you are not a high volume retailer. You can also find information about wholesalers by using search engines and online directories. These offer good sources of information about wholesalers within your locality that you can contact and do business with.

Trade magazines and other periodic publications are also good sources of information about clothing wholesalers. Many of wholesalers use these magazines as media for placing ads.

4. Make enquiries

Once you have found a number of clothing wholesalers that you think will be a fit for your business, you should contact them. There are several questions you need to ask then before deciding whether to go ahead with them or not. Ask about minimum orders retailers can place. You must ensure that they can allow you to buy from them in smaller volumes.

Also ask about their unit prices for various types of clothes, wears, and fashion accessories. Compare the prices of all the wholesalers you contact. You may want to go with the one offering the best unit prices, because you will earn more profits that way.

The turnaround time for orders is another factor you should question wholesalers about. In other words, how soon you will get your orders after placing them. Also, find out if you can return any damaged merchandise for a replacement or full refund.

5. Conduct a background check

After you have decided which wholesaler to do business with, you need to conduct a background check to ensure that you are dealing with a legitimate wholesaler. Check with the Better Business Bureau or any business regulatory agency in the town or city the wholesaler is located to know if they are actual wholesalers and not middlemen. Your background check will also reveal their reputation among retailers they have done business with.

6. Enter into an agreement

Once you have conducted your background check and have found your chosen wholesaler to be credible and reliable, you can go ahead to sign a contract with them. This will involve the services of a seasoned attorney.