How to Start a Retail Clothing Store in the Gambia

retail clothing store in Gambia

Owning a retail clothing store is a big dream shared by many people. However, you can be one of the few that makes it come true with the action, right planning and execution guide.

With a youthful population of over 50%, retailing sector is one of the fastest-growing segments in the Gambia and clothing is part of it. Understanding the right strategy to enter clothing or fashion market can heavily influence your success in this sector. That is why we researched this guide for prospective entrepreneurs on how to start a retail clothing store in the Gambia.

Steps to Starting a Retail Clothing Business

1. Get Some Retail Store Experience

You should be prepared to learn and experience the clothing market. This could be working in someone’s store as an employee or intern. Basic experience of the industry is as important as your interest in clothes. It is an opportunity to learn about sales skills, presentation and most important understanding the complexity and trending nature of the industry. Getting relevant experience may take several years but any experience is irreplaceable in building your knowledge base of retail clothing store.

2. Choose Your Niche Retail market

No one need a consultant to know that there are many clothing stores in Gambia. However, all it takes is to offer something different at the right location and right price. This require you to be focus and target the right clients. That way you can offer yourself up to your customers as the go-to place for your chosen field. For example, you could specialize in men, women or children’s clothing outlet. The key step is to choose a niche market with a good demand and growth potential. Research more about the chosen market including the best suppliers and designers. Note that If you get the niche market area wrong your retail clothing store will not survive but if you chose correctly, your business will thrive and scale.

3. Develop a Smart Business Plan

You need to prepare a simple business plan to help you to get funding should you need it. A good business plan also serves as a strategy to drive the business forward.

 Why you need to develop a business plan:

  • To support a loan application to banks
  • Raise equity funding from investors
  • To define business objectives and plan on how to achieve those objectives
  • To define the new business operations
  • Define agreements between partners within the value chain

If you’re new to writing business plans, here’s is our article on a components of a good business plan or an alternative approach to business plan called business model.

4. Choose the Location for your clothing store 

This is obviously a very key important factor and could contribute vastly to how successful your retail clothing store becomes. You can open a D25 store almost anywhere but a high-end store like Sawallo Couture cannot be open on every street in the country.

You have to look at the other stores within the area and do not be intimidated by staying close to a competitor. However, you should consider the following important factors when deciding the store location:

  • Local knowledge of the area you plan to open the store.
  • Stay close to the target customers. If you are targeting the executives, then think of Kairaba Avenue, Senegambia, West Field or Banjul. Please consider Serrekunda market end if your target is the mass market.
  • Cost of rent in the area also influence your operating cost.
  • Proximity to the suppliers and designers.

5. Planning Your Store Layout and place the right tools

The structure or design of the store layout is important as it gives the interface between the consumers and business. Shelves and product location could affect the free flow of traffic in the store. For example, put the seasonal items and new products in your prime locations.  The impulsive but small stocks should be place near the cash register. The following key points should also be considered:

  • You will also need a good cash register or till system to support your sales chains.
  • Selectively, partner with a reliable bank that will provide and support your Point of Sale (POS) system. POS allows customers to pay for their shopping with debit or credit card and not necessarily carrying physical cash.

Due to their higher up-time rate and the technology platform, GTbank Gambia has the highest number of POS terminals in the Gambia.

Retail clothing store in gambia with gtbank POS

5. Source the stocks & develop strong supplier relationships

No matter the location or level of funding, you cannot make any profit if you do not have a reliable supply of stock for your target market. It’s also important that you do not rely all source on only one supplier. Anything can happen and customers do not like to be told that “we do not have the good in stock.” You should research and network with international and local fashion designers. This will not only diversify your supplier base but can enable you to know learn about the trends. If you are offering hair products, reviews show that offers very good value for money.

6. Hire and train your Friendly Staff

Staff, staff and staff is one important area most retail clothing stores tend to ignore. Let be very clear and fair, you cannot be selling to VIPs or executive and you expect them to be served by untrained employees. In fact, the face and moment of experience in any retail store is the time spent with staff. Do they welcome clients with passion and smile? Well again, training can make a big difference.

When I started banking as a cashier, we were told that you must greet the customer with a smile. Here is an interesting fact about smiling to customers.

In 2007, Harvard Business Review published a research paper which concluded that the bigger the employee’s smile, the happier the customer.

Retail is a detailed market with competition, so every staff action matters. The security man at the door, floor assistant or the cashier, everyone should be told that the customer is the king. Do not assume that they are adults or graduates, so they should know the basic customer service. Train, train and train them.

A knowledgeable and motivated staff will delight customers and understand that they are not doing a favor for any customer.

8. Announce your New Clothing Store to the World

Do not just start your new store like one secret wedding. If you can afford it, contact the newspapers and write something about your store opening. You can also ask friends and family to publicize your opening date on their social media channels. Organize an official opening day and invite some local influencers and ask them to post about it on their social channels too.

Adverts will not only convince potential customers but you want to make sure you have a strong image of your new clothing store. You need to create the desire in people to come into your store instead of those of your more established competitors. Whatever media you decided to use, your advertising campaign should be well planned, distinctive and consistent with your store image and the target market.

9. Keep up with the Trends in the industry

The fashion is a rapidly changing industry that trends like sunrise and sunsets. If you want to stay relevant in the market, you must constantly be assessing your customers taste. You must foresee key trends, months before it hits the market. This will require you to build up a loyal client base and keep them in mind when sourcing your stock. Ask for feedback from customers about what they like to see. Try posting styles you like on your own social channels and see what reaction you get. Read the relevant magazines, or watch TV channels and be attentive when you travelled.

This guide made reference to a retail clothing store, however, the concept can be applied to any retail business. For a summary information, you can also download an Infographic on retail clothing store developed by SMS

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About Ebrima Sawaneh 118 Articles
My Name is Ebrima. I write about personal finance, small business, and The Gambia to support young people. I am an accountant, banker, and Amazon international bestselling author. Feel free to drop a message or download my free eBooks - HERE read


  1. Is so easy to start such business in the Gambia. The first step is you need to look for competent partner in the Gambia to do the entire ground works for you before you can invest any butut yet. Example of the ground works here is: he/she need to make is business registration, find a shop at a strategic location, make research on the types of clothes that people used here most on both gender, the size and etc. Finally, make your own advisements after the business is started and many other similar things like that can be done ahead. Thank you.

  2. Ebrima,

    Great post about starting a retail clothing store. There are many factors to consider when getting started in the fashion industry. Like you mentioned, getting retail experience is crucial before opening your own store. Retail involves so many details, it wouldn’t be wise to open a store with zero retail background.

    Great info in this post. Hope to connect soon.


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