How to Start a Corner Store

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From deli food to toiletries, corner store owners provide their local community with popular goods, as well as a convenient location, often within walking distance of most of their clientele. A savvy entrepreneur willing to invest the time to research the market could do well to establish a corner store in his local neighborhood. In addition to securing a prime location, you’ll need to establish relationships with suppliers and members of the community. A business plan is a must; invest in some solid counseling from the Small Business Administration or someone you respect prior to starting your endeavor.

    Find a handful of potential locations for your corner store. If any of the locations haven’t been zoned for commercial use, verify that they can be. Generally, it will be much cheaper to simply move into an old shop. However, that may not be an option. Then spend time studying each locale, including foot and car traffic. Interview local residents about the viability of a corner store and the types of goods they would like to see stocked. Attend local town hall meetings.

    Visit your county’s government website to find the crime statistics and the population for each potential neighborhood. You’ll need to ensure that the local market is large enough to sustain your convenience store. Additionally, contact utilities companies and obtain quotes for each location to help you narrow your selection. Once you’ve selected a location, contact the zoning authority to obtain approval.

    Contact your zoning authority and building department, once you’ve selected a location. Additionally, you’ll need to register your retail business and obtain liability insurance.

    Contact your local health department and fire department to learn the regulations for your business and information on getting your shop inspection ready. If you will operate a deli, you will need to obtain a food handler’s permit. Ask your health department about local cooperatives from which you can purchase produce, meat or other goods. Additionally, your state may have non-profit organizations that specialize in designing programs for promoting healthy food. If so, you may be able to nab better deals on produce and other healthy fare by purchasing through the nonprofit organization.

    Contact cooperatives, online wholesale suppliers and local suppliers to compare prices for food and products. Contact wholesale suppliers for store shelving, refrigeration, kitchen equipment, a security system, racks and office supplies.

    Develop an expense sheet that details start-up costs and anticipated operating costs for your corner shop. Include utilities, taxes, insurance, rent, payroll, advertising, store fixtures and shelving and anticipated food waste. Then establish a price list that will ensure you can make a profit.

Tips & Warnings

  • While constructing your storefront, place a large banner across your store advertising your opening date.

  • Get involved in the community. Always be aware of local events and keep your neighborhood informed of any upcoming changes.

  • Implement a security system to reduce theft.

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