There are a number of stores that have had a place throughout the history of each community, but nothing has established itself as a social hub for a neighborhood like the corner store. A good old-fashioned corner store still attracts a number of customers because it provides a one-stop experience. Fresh foods, playing cards, ready-to-drink beverages, and other unique items of a general variety can provide the foundation of a profitable business.
If you want to know how to open a corner store, then this is what you’re going to need to do.
1. Test Your Market.
Although corner stores are popular in communities, a new store may not be able to be supported. Convenience stores, gas stations, and even small grocers all have similar products that compete with the corner store. The costs of competing with several existing businesses and brands may not be worthwhile. If there is a service gap discovered, however, then the corner store is a cost effective way to meet the needs of the community.
2. Get Your Foundation Built.
You’ll need to have an easily accessible location for your corner store that, believe it or not, is actually not necessarily on a corner. Make sure your location gets some decent foot traffic or is near enough to an intersection where customers can easily pull of and get into your store. Secure the lease or purchase the real estate.
3. Make It Legal.
You’ll need a number of different retail licenses to begin operating a corner store. Most jurisdictions will require a business owner to prove that they have insurance in place before the authorization to conduct business will be allowed. A sales tax collection authorization will be necessary. If you plan to sell fresh foods in your corner store, then a health inspection will also be mandatory. Make sure your building, appliances, and storage options are up to code.
4. Gather Your Inventory.
The retail component of the corner store is relatively easy. You won’t be the grocery store that offers 40,000 different items for sale. You will be using the information from when you tested the market to determine what products they’d like to have in their community. That could range from take-out deli items to an all-you-can-eat salad bar to a strictly gluten-free vegan inventory of products. It is important to let your customer base dictate your inventory because otherwise you’ll just be guessing at what will sell.
5. Place Your Orders.
This is where it becomes important to have ongoing capital on-hand. You’ll need to secure cash for your inventory orders if you don’t have enough. Traditional loans, small business loans, or capital investors are all options here. Choose the funding option that makes sense for you.
6. Develop The Flow Of Your Corner Store.
The corner store is all about ambiance. How customers move throughout your store will determine how likely they are to purchase something. Because this type of business is so social in nature, consider developing a corner or gathering nook where people can read, talk, or even go online if you feel like providing free wi-fi. Colors, shelving placement, and interior decorations should all be community-specific.
7. Create Your Brand.
A corner store is a destination business, but that doesn’t mean that a brand isn’t necessary. Develop the identity of your store so that people will be able to connect with it. This includes an informational store logo, an online presence, and any advertising materials which you may wish to use for your business. Distribute this information to the community and plan for your grand opening.
8. Provide A Consistent Experience.
Your community will come to shop at your corner store because it can provide a consistent experience. This is where you’ll be able to set yourself apart from the remainder of the community. Keep your shelves stocked, your options open, and your communication lines clear for the best possible experience.
9. Be Patient With The Development Process.
Many corner store owners want their business open as soon as possible. From conception to the grand opening, it generally takes 1 year of planning and promotion to get it open. Keep in mind that there will likely be restrictions in place that dictate the size of your signage, the font on it, or even how bright the sign can be lit up at night.
Knowing how to open a corner store means taking the time to get to know a neighborhood. It means following local laws and stocking inventory that is based on local needs. If you can do all this and form a relationship with the neighborhood, then you will establish a successful business.