General stores are an amazing concept since they cater to the needs of the general public. Throughout history, general stores were old-time rural shops that served the whole community by having everything people might need – from food, spices to house supplies and cosmetics. However, their function goes beyond this. In a way, they are like modern malls, as they often carry other businesses like restaurants and cafes, while also letting people commute there. They not only go there to purchase but also to hear the latest news. Owning and operating such stores doesn’t require any special education or formal training. Yet, there is something you should think about if you want to pursue this business.
Small shops often have a hard time competing with retail chains in terms of product prices. Those that actually survive this competition usually do so through unbeatable customer service. As a retailer developing a general store concept, excellent customer service can be your best feature. You should capitalize on this. Have a shop where people would like to go to not only to purchase but connect and commute with the owner, sales personnel and the rest of the neighborhood. To do this, you will need to give personal attention to your customer and doing them favors such as enabling them to post ads for upcoming events in the neighborhood or community bulletins.
Seeking out a strong and reliable network of distributors is crucial for getting all the goods you need for your store. Not just on time, but also for a cheap price. You can search for products that are likely to be in demand, not just those your competition offers. Based on your business plan’s financial aspects, determine the markup price for each product to make sure you will make a profit. Always search for distributors in your local area, or at least for those most near you. For instance, if you’re from Australia, it’s would be only logical to find wholesale distributors in Australia, while if you hail from the U.S, you can consider buying your inventory from price clubs such as Sam’s Club or Costco. Searching locally lets you save money and time during the transport of your goods.
Obtaining a loan
If you don’t have the starting capital for your general store, you can apply for a small business loan from a local bank or other financial institution by completing a loan application and submitting a copy of your business plan. Search whether you qualify for guaranteed loans available through the U.S Small Business Administration which is created particularly for people trying to open their own company. Take money out of your savings or retirement plan only if you are sure that you can return the money in six months to one year.
Marketing your general store
Advertising your general store starts at the shelf level. In other words, the placement of your items is crucial. Whether you follow the modern method of placing items at the eye level, or the traditional one of placing your popular, fast-moving items on the bottom shelves, the most important thing to remember is to be consistent. Also, you shouldn’t neglect the logical placement of items in the store. For instance, you wouldn’t place light bulbs in the produce section.
Utilizing traditional marketing avenues like direct mail and combining them with online marketing avenues such as local SEO will be most effective. Whatever you are marketing, include information and coupons about the latest items and sales. You can also feature an innovative and amazing product offering that can differentiate your general store from the competition. Examples include:
- Freshly made hamburgers and ice cream
- Freshly pressed juices
- Fresh coffee
- Fresh doughnuts and bagels
In conclusion, we bring one more pro tip. This is to host an old-fashioned general store open house. You can open your doors to the community with a day-long grand opening event. Build product displays throughout your store, and offer grand opening specials on selected items. Alternatively, book a local musician or group to showcase a period from your town or region. Ultimately, offer door prizes to encourage attendance, and utilize the entry forms to create a customer mailing list.