It’s no secret that the retail sector has taken a beating in the last couple of years. But all signs point to it coming back, slowly but surely. Part of being a successful entrepreneur is watching trends and responding to market demand in a way that puts money in your pocket.

As part of our series, detailing 100 great businesses to start now, below are 10 retail business ideas that will put you in front of the retail industry come-back.

1. Dollar Store

In a down economy, everyone is trying to find ways to save a buck or two. For that reason, dollar stores have become very popular all over. And believe it or not, profit margins in these stores are quite high, compared to a lot of retail businesses.

Obviously there are a lot of big players in this segment, but don’t sweat that. Consider a different focus from the big guys by setting up a smaller, more neighborly store, and differentiate with outstanding service and unique products.

Your startup costs will typically range from about $10,000 to $50,000, and reports say you can expect to turn a profit in as little as a year. Add a website component, and you could cut that down to 6 months or less!

2. Vintage Record Store

No matter how much technology advancements try to improve the sound of music, many people will always prefer the pure sound of vinyl. According to purists, those little scratches and fuzzy noises add to the experience, and there’s gold in that background buzz.

With some market research, you can find out what people are looking for, and specialize in any number of genres, or carry a little of everything. You also have the option of making this an online venture or traditional retail store, and consider carrying vintage and/or new record players and accessories.

People love thumbing through albums, and there aren’t a lot of these stores out there, so find the right location, and you could be flush in no time.

3. Inventory Liquidation

Large manufacturers of everything from windshield wipers to waffle irons often end up with more product than they can move through their traditional channels. And when the stuff is sitting in their warehouses rather than flying off the shelves, they’re anxious to get rid of it, even if it means they sell it at a loss. That’s where inventory liquidators come in.

Similar to the dollar store concept, this business appeals to folks looking to save money on the things they would normally buy at full price. You’ll need a large space for this kind of store, but they are often in more industrial or lower-end parts of town, so you won’t pay a premium for leased space.

Expect to spend $10,000+ on startup, depending on how big you want to start. Industry insiders warn that while lucrative, this business takes planning and careful execution. You don’t want to get stuck with 50,000 widgets that won’t sell no matter how low the price!

4. Trophy & Awards Shop

Regardless of the economy, kids and adults alike are still participating in softball, football, soccer, dance, martial arts, and more. And all of these people are playing to win, and what do they win? They usually win a trophy, ribbon, plaque, or some other custom piece of recognition.

For as little as $3500 in equipment and initial inventory, you can be the one providing these prizes to schools, leagues, and private businesses. If you’re good at sales, or can hire someone who is, you’ve got it made. Offer quality products at fair prices, and you’ll find a market eager to give you its business.

5. Used Wedding Gowns

That’s right – used wedding gowns. If you look at the statistics, you’ll notice that most people get married, and the majority of those marriages end in divorce, and the majority of those people who get divorced end up remarrying at some point. What does this all mean?

It means there’s a huge market for wedding gowns, and a whole lot of used wedding gowns just waiting for a beautiful bride to give them another shot. For a low investment of $1000 – $5000, you can begin buying used wedding dresses and then selling them, either online or from home, or (for a larger investment) from a retail store.

Consider also partnering with a seamstress for additional income, and to avoid a large initial outlay, think about selling dresses on consignment for 30%-40% of the take.

6. Antique Sales

Big fan of the Antiques Road Show? If you’ve followed this market at all over the last few years, you might know it has taken a big dip. That’s great news for someone looking to get into the business. As prices begin to increase, you’ll be able to buy low and sell high in fairly short order.

For as little as $500-$1000, you can begin buying various items, and you can sell from home, at least in the beginning. There are unlimited options for specializing in specific types of items, ranging from movie memorabilia, to furniture, to jewelry or toys.

If you want to make this an online business, consider either starting a site that sells products, or one that facilitates others selling their stuff. In the latter example, you could charge a flat fee or percentage of the sale. The possibilities are endless!

7. Green Home Products

Last month, we featured 10 Green Businesses for A Healthy Earth And Bank Account. One related business that we saved for this week’s list is a green home products retail store. As the green movement grows – and it there’s no doubt it will continue to grow – people are becoming more and more interested in ways they can “greenify” their homes and businesses.

A retail store catering to this booming market will carry everything someone needs to save electricity, conserve water, or help them effectively reuse and repurpose the stuff they would normally toss out.

You’ll sell everything from energy-efficient light bulbs and weather proofing, to solar-powered items and low-flow conversion kits for toilets. Green is in, and it can help you cash in!

8. Used Fitness and Sports Equipment

Just like with the trophy and awards business, this business capitalizes on the huge market consisting of people’s love of sports. Whose garage doesn’t have some sports and fitness equipment they no longer use? Help them get rid of it while helping others find what they need at a discount price.

This is also a business that offers a lot of opportunities to specialize. For example, you could just carry golf equipment, including clubs, shoes, gloves, and even apparel. Or you could focus on fitness equipment exclusively, offering quality used treadmills, stair-steppers, weight equipment, etc.

Until you get a steady stream of people coming in to sell you their stuff, check out neighborhood garage sales and classified sites for some screamin’ deals.

9. Child Safety Products

If you love kids and want to help keep them safe while making a good living, consider opening a child safety products business. You’ll carry items such as ID kits, gates, cabinet latches, outlet covers, and even safety and educational videos.

Parents want variety, so you’ll want to carry several options and brands. To really take this business to the next level, add a “childproofing” installation service where you go into people’s homes and make them safe for kids, top to bottom. Expect to invest $10,000 +/- to acquire a good starting inventory, and consider adding an e-commerce site to sell your wares online.

10. Used Books

More and more books are becoming available to read online and through devices like the iPad and Kindle, but traditional books aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. A Saturday walk through any Barnes & Noble or Borders will confirm that.

One way people are increasingly getting their reading fix while saving some cash is by frequenting clean, well-organized used bookstores. Some of these stores have even developed into regional chains, and there’s still plenty of room in the market for more.

Your inventory will come to you at a low price, but you’ll need a lot of it, so expect to spend $5000 – $10,000, not including fixtures and space lease. With a markup well over 100% though, you can do very well in this business, as long as you’re willing to put in the time and planning necessary.

Of course there are hundreds of other retail possibilities too, so do your research and figure out what’s right for you. Hopefully this list has got your brain stimulated to come up with more and more ideas to ensure your entrepreneurial retail dreams come true!

Get Free Email Updates!

Signup now and receive an email once I publish new content.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.