Starting a convenience store

How to start a convenience store

Where would we be without them? Found in most towns and villages across the land, convenience stores have become an essential part of many people’s lives. In fact, the name sums it up succinctly; they’re both useful and accessible, and in some communities they’re an absolute necessity. That should make them a sound investment, then. After all, the key to success in any business is strong consumer demand. So, if you’re one of those people looking to invest, here’s our short guide on how to start a convenience store.

Location is everything with a business like this. Convenience means accessibility, and that means you must be easy to find. You’ll rely on a lot of repeat business too, so placing yourself in a busy area, with high density housing, should bring customers back time and time again. If there are schools in the area, that is an added advantage as well. Just think how many kids want to grab a snack or fizzy drink on their way home from school at the end of the day. Footfall and passing trade are all a boost to business, and should be factored in when considering how to start a convenience store in the right location.

There’s definitely a big clue in the name here. If you want to know how to start a convenience store, the first thing you need to do is make things convenient. That means thinking carefully about what it is you’re offering your customers, how easy is it for them to find you and what hours they can expect you to be open? It’s likely you’ll need to be open at least 12 hours a day, possibly many more. And definitely seven days a week. In fact, one of your key USPs over competing businesses, such as supermarkets or newsagents, is that you remain open when they’re all closed.

So if you’re wondering how to start a convenience store and maintain a life outside of business, you might be in for a shock. This isn’t a lifestyle business. And definitely not from the outset. Until you have the luxury of putting staff in round the clock, you’re going to have to put in some long hours yourself. You’ll also need to have the right sort of personality for the job. The best convenience store owners are friendly, chatty and gregarious types who get to know their customers. It’s what keeps those customers coming back.

What keeps those customers coming back is stocking exactly what they need. They’ll expect the essential foods like milk, bread and biscuits. Confectionary, tobacco and drinks are a must. And keep in stock the emergency items that people might need out of hours, like loo roll, toiletries and medicines. But don’t discount the extraordinary. Savvy convenience store owners get to know their customers, and importantly, what their customers want. And that might well be items that they struggle to find elsewhere. Do that and you’ll be able to start a convenience store and stand out from the competition.

Starting a new venture is exciting, but it is riskier than taking over an existing business (as long as that business is trading successfully, of course). So, should your question be: how to start a convenience store? Or would it be better to ask how to buy a convenience store that is already trading? You might find it easier to raise finance for a going concern, as a lender will be able to assess the same accounts and trading history that you can. And if you do want to buy an existing convenience store, there are lots to choose from here.

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Starting a convenience store