Business Ideas

Boutique as an Investment Window for Low-Income Earners

Boutique as an Investment Window for Low-Income Earners

Boutique as an Investment Window for Low-Income Earners
Within the last seven years or more, there has been a surge in the importation of textiles and other fashion accessories from parts of the Middle East and Asia. 

Predominantly, shoes, clothes and bags from Dubai and China have provided succuor for some Nigerians who would want to be in their best but lacked the wherewithal to go for the expensive designs from Europe and the United States.

Prior to the now popular Dubai rush, this fashion business in Nigeria was strictly a competition among three classes of businessmen-the wealthy importers in designer outfits from Europe and the US, those dealing in used clothes popularly known as okrika and the local fashion designers. 

Not until 1982, when Giorgio Armani came out with the Armani USA range for the low-income earners, accessories carrying designer labels were strictly for the rich with taste and the not-so-rich that go for what they consider the best.

However, with the prices of top designers hitting the roof, some smart investors have discovered an investment window in running mini boutiques by dealing exclusively in the middle class range of products from Dubai and China. 

The business is thriving because more Nigerians are opting for this range of products although some can still afford to put down as much as N30,000 or more for a pair of shoes, while some others in that same class would rather go for fairly used ones from the western world for as much as N6,000 rather than stake just between N2,000 and N4,000 for new shoes from Dubai and China.

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The surge has provided an opportunity for those already in the business and salaried low-income earners to set up mini-shops either in their personal houses or through the construction of steel enclosure as shops, where they display such items, which majority of them normally get by depositing as little as N20,000 with the major importers.

The importers bring in the items ranging from clothes, bags, shoes, belts and all manner of wears for onward distribution to wholesalers and retailers who can guaranty that they will refund the money after selling the goods.

An importer, Mr. Clement Nwaji, who combines the importation of electronics and fashion accessories in his business, says it is wrong for people to believe that an individual will require large sums of money running into millions before he can go into the business of owning a boutique for clothes and personal accessories.

He says, Before we embark on importation of goods, we know that not too many people will have cash to buy from us. On the basis of trust, we always create room for those who will deposit a little cash and even in most cases, not depositing anything, provided the person has a reliable guarantor.

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Those who are not too greedy make quick returns and collect more. As much as possible, we also try in our own way to make people earn a living although we meet with some stringent challenges due to government unfavourable policies.

According to Mr. Cyril Ilobo, who has five mini-shops for clothes, bags and shoes, starting a fashion boutique no longer requires millions of naira, as the importer’s confidence in the prospective customer has become the key to the business.

He says, The day I was advised to start the business, I had just N22,000. A friend introduced me to an importer where I deposited N20,000 and he gave me items worth about N50,000 for a start. Luckily, within two weeks, I sold everything and went back and took more. It was like that for three months before I took my first shop.

He advises that those who intend going into the business should be determined to work very hard and be aggressive whether they have fully paid for the goods or not, adding that individual’s ability to market will always make the difference.

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Mr. Remi Adewale, a civil servant, has been able to combine his job with a fashion shop which he invests part of his salary in on a monthly basis. With the private business being overseen by his younger brother, Adewale beats his chest that he has achieved more than some of his superiors who rely entirely on their monthly salaries in his place of work.

He recalls, I started by helping a neighbour sell the clothes in my office until I realised I could do it myself since I even had more money than the person I was assisting. I asked a few questions and discovered with as little as N50,000 I could also buy some shirts and network the distribution through friends and relatives.

After a few months, I decided to rent a shop and carry on the business on a larger scale. Today, the turnover is very high and in just 17 months I have been able to open another shop exclusively for bags.

He, however, says the tendency to open more shops has become more challenging as a result of various levies from the state and local government officials as well as some shylock landlords who take delight in increasing their rents at will.

By Sunday Ojeme

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