How To Open a Corner Store: 7 Steps to Success
Have you ever walked by a charming little corner store and thought, "I wish I could open a store like that"?
Good news: you can!
Running a corner store can be a rewarding and profitable business venture, with the market growing in size nearly every year since 2015.
However, before you dive headfirst into opening your corner store, you need to know a few key things. You wouldn’t dive into a pool without first knowing it was full of water, right? Before you can hang your “We’re Open!” sign in your corner store window, you need a formula for success.
Whether you're an aspiring small business owner or just curious about the ins and outs of running a corner store, this post is for you. We'll cover everything from choosing the right location and stocking your shelves to marketing your store and building a loyal customer base. So, let's get started!
How To Open a Corner Store: Step Zero
Before you open your corner store, you’ll want to set some realistic expectations for the level of success you’ll experience. It depends on various factors, including your location, your niche, and the tools and processes you put in place to manage your store.
The first factor you’ll want to consider when estimating your potential revenue is to check out your local competition. How many other corner stores are in your area? The more competition you have, the more creative you must be to set yourself apart and build a loyal customer base.
Identify potential niches you can target. For example, if none of the stores in your area offer a wide variety of health products or locally sourced goods, you may win repeat customers by filling this gap in the market.
Related Read: 3 Unique Features of Corner Store POS Software
You’ll also want to consider the types of customers you want to attract to your store. This data will help you decide what type of products to carry to serve the needs of your desired customers. Consider things like the average age, income, and buying habits of people living in the area.
When you do your due diligence and are proactive about your business, you can increase your chances of success and build a profitable, sustainable corner store that serves your community for years to come.
1. Conduct Market Research
Before you open your store, you need to conduct market research — you want to ensure you open your store in an area with enough demand to succeed. Assess your competition. What do other similar stores in the area offer? How can you differentiate yourself and your store?
Next, you’ll want to estimate your start-up costs. Consider expenses like rent, utilities, marketing, and the cost of carrying, storing, and purchasing inventory. These figures can help you identify the potential profitability of your store.
Lastly, create a business plan for your store. Outline your vision, mission, and goals. This document will help ensure you have a clear direction for your store, and will provide a baseline against which you can measure your future success.
2. Fund Your Business
After determining your start-up costs, you need to ensure you have enough cash to front those costs. Step two to opening your corner store is to seek funding for your store.
You can explore a few different avenues:
- Loans: You can apply for loans from a bank or other financial institution. Additionally, you can ask for loans from friends, family members, or business partners.
- Grants: You can also explore grants like Small Business Administration grants, Community Development Block grants, and more to fund your business. Each grant has its own eligibility criteria and application process, so ensure you consider these elements when applying for grants to fund your business.
- Personal Savings: If you have sufficient savings in your bank account to open the store on your own, you can simply use those funds to start your business.
You may want to consider seeking advice from a financial advisor to help choose the best funding options to get your store up and running.
3. Choose Your Location
You may choose your location before you seek funding, as you’ll need a sense of your expected rent costs before seeking funding. However, regardless of when you choose your store’s location, this step is crucial for the success of your business.
For a corner store, you need a location that is easily accessible, has adequate parking and foot traffic, and has sufficient visibility to the community. You’ll also need to consider nearby competition. How close are other corner stores to your desired location? Is there an area you can select where there is a gap in the market for corner stores?
If you want your store to succeed, you need to select the right location with rent in your budget and either enough foot traffic or sufficient parking or both.
4. Register Your Business
Once you've chosen your location and secured funding, you’re ready to register your business! Choose a name for your store if you haven’t already done so. Ensure the name you select reflects your brand and communicates the intent and values of your store.
Register your business with the local government agencies and obtain all necessary permits or licenses. What are some potential permits you may need?
- Business License: You’ll need a business license for your store regardless of your location or store offerings.
- Food Service Permit: If your store plans to offer prepared food like snacks or sandwiches, you must apply for a food service permit.
- Health Department Permit: The health department permit helps ensure your store meets health and safety standards for all food items served and sold.
- Alcohol and/or Tobacco License: Do you plan to sell alcohol or tobacco products in your store? If so, you’ll need to obtain the proper licenses and comply with all relevant regulations in your area.
- Sign Permit: Some localities require special permits to install signage on the exterior of your building. Check local requirements to ensure your store is in compliance.
- Building Permit: Do you need to conduct any kind of renovations on your storefront? If so, you’ll need a building permit before you make those changes.
5. Set Up Your Store
Once you have your permits in place, you can begin setting up your store. Nail down vendors, purchase necessary furnishings like shelving or seating if needed, and get your equipment set up. Consider the design and layout of your store to ensure the store communicates your brand to customers who enter your store.
You’ll also want to invest in tools and inventory at this stage in the process. Some of the tools you should consider include:
- Point of Sale (POS) Solution: Invest in a quality POS solution that can help you manage inventory, speed up checkout processes, and more. Consider a POS solution like IT Retail that offers self-checkout features for additional efficiency.
- Security Measures: Install cameras and alarms to secure your business. The type of security measures necessary for your store will depend on the location of your business. Take cues from the surrounding businesses to decide what security measures to include in your store.
This is also the stage where you’re ready to hire employees for your business. Choose employees who share your passion for serving your community and providing the highest possible level of customer service.
6. Implement a Corner Store POS Solution
As mentioned in step five, a reliable POS system is crucial for effective corner store management. You may be tempted to forego a robust point of sale solution in favor of an old-fashioned cash register and tracking inventory by hand. However, you’ll waste time and energy on ineffective processes when you choose this route.
A POS solution like IT Retail is ideal for corner stores like yours. We offer features like age verification, cash discounting, versatile payment processing, offline sales, and more. Additionally, the reporting data from our software can help you streamline operations and make informed decisions about your business and your inventory.
7. Launch Your Corner Store!
Have you completed steps one through six? Congratulations, it’s time to launch your store!
Advertise your opening and invite your community to attend the event! You may want to offer discounts or promotions on opening day to drum up interest and bring customers into the store.
Once you’ve launched your store, all that’s left is to manage your business effectively! With the help of a robust POS solution, you can easily keep track of inventory, sales, and customer loyalty data. Your store can thrive, providing value to the community and generating revenue for you!
How To Open a Corner Store the Easy Way
This step-by-step guide should give you a great starting point toward building your plan to open the corner store of your dreams!
With some dedicated research, the right location, and the right tools in place, you’ll have everything you need to make your corner store the talk of the town — and a community staple.
Remember, launching your store is only the first step in your journey to success. To run a successful corner store, you need the tools and resources to manage your store accurately and efficiently, from inventory to employee hours and more.
Check out a demo of IT Retail today to jump-start your dream of opening a corner store in your neighborhood!