My husband and I recently opened a convenience store. We know from experience that a properly placed store can be the hub of a small community. It is where people swap stories, buy emergency staples, and satiate the appetites of unexpected guests with chips and pop. But success isn’t guaranteed when starting a convenience store.
- Choose your location carefully. Competition is a major consideration. There are no other retail businesses in our community, which is ideal. Convenience stores should be at least five minutes away from the nearest grocery store.
- Obtain necessary registrations, licenses, permits. You will need to register the name of your store and set up a business tax account. To sell some products (such as tobacco) you may need a license. In our area we needed a permit to sell food and a corresponding inspection from the health inspector. If you need financing, a well-conceived business plan is a must. Commercial property insurance should protect you in the event of a lawsuit.
- Line up wholesale suppliers. Set up wholesale accounts well before opening as it can take time to be approved for credit. We have one main wholesaler who sells us everything from chocolate bars to laundry soap then specific suppliers of dairy, bread, chips. Buying specials from grocery stores is permissible but should not be your main method of purchasing stock.
- Purchase necessary supplies and equipment. Washable shelving is a must as are display refrigerators and freezers. Sometimes a wholesaler will supply a refrigeration unit (Pepsi, Coke) or freezer (Nestle, Breyers) IF their product is the only stock in their equipment. A security system is recommended as thieves are drawn to stores that sell particular products (such as tobacco). Remember to create a cash float at the bank a day or two before opening.
- Choose your products carefully, price them competitively and place top sellers prominently. Keep your pricing in line with nearby stores. Ask suppliers which brands are top sellers. Find niche products that grocery stores don’t sell. We carry Dutch foods and locally produced items. Advertise niche items to attract customers from outside the community. Convenience stores thrive on impulse buying so place popular items where customers will see them. Don’t overstock. Once a product is past its best-before date (though it may retain its original quality for awhile), consumers will expect a discount.
Entrepreneur: How to Start a Retail Business http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/75912
Global Purchasing Group: Retail 2.0 http://cdn-prod.www.aws.nypl.org/sites/default/files/retail_101_nypl_copy.pdf