Although its a bit late in the season there are still probably a few artisan fairs, craft markets etc in your area.
Its a great way to find talented local artisans who may be looking for another outlet for their work. The bonus is that artisans know other artisans and will be able to refer others to you.
Make sure they understand wholesale/retail pricing and are not down the street sellingitems for the same price you paid. You need your margin to cover the overhead.
Plan trips to other cities in your state with the agenda of visiting other boutiques making note of some of the brands they carry that you like.
Contact the manufacturer/designer to find out who their rep is for your area. You might also make an appointment with the owner of a store you particularly like - ask if you can take them to lunch or have even a few moments of their time to hear about how they started in business. ...who doesn't like to talk about themself with an eager, receptive audience?
Make a point of not going down the street, scoping out other local boutiques suppliers and stocking the same lines (if they will sell to you).
If you have a business license as a boutique owner you can register for wholesale shows in New York coming up early in the New Year - the challenge will be that they will be selling fall stock and many will have no ability to supply you stock for earlier seasons.
Is there a wholesale "show mart" in your city? That is where a number of reps have showrooms of stock you can order and some of them have in stock items for cash and carry (sometimes older stock or samples at a discount) which is a great option in the startup phase.
Nota Bene Consulting
Thank you so much. What you shared with me is what I have been doing. That make me feel like I'm on the right track.
If you don't know where to find suppliers, you probably don't know inventory turns, and other ratios and such that you can/should use to measure your performance. Often you can buy existing cheaper than you can start one - PLUS you get at least some of the lessons of the prior owner.
Running a business is not easy - you need a lot of information to do it succesesfully. There are many ways of getting there - hope you find yours...