Whether you’re buying an existing convenience store or building a new-to-industry (NTI) c-store, it is likely one of the largest — if not the largest — investments you will ever make.
Understand it is not a decision to take lightly, no matter how much money you think you have. You must have enough cash on-hand to purchase inventory, perhaps replace worn or outdated equipment, make the payroll and so on. And believe me: You will need to set aside extra cash for unforeseen emergencies.
That said, when determining where to open an independent c-store, first look for new markets in desirable areas or markets that look to be underserved. Avoid markets where the market leaders are located; they have so many stores in many areas that it permits them to drop prices for long periods of time on that one new store of yours. This will seriously impair your ability to compete.
You should also look for nearby housing developments — or, even better, large apartment complexes that are near the bus line, as many of their residents will be walking right by your location to catch their ride to work. These folks will do the same on the weekend to go to a ballgame, movie or concert. They will be your customers for smokes, alcohol, milk, bread and countless other staples.
Note: Make sure you’re located on the main travel pattern. Being located on the wrong side of a compelling complex is sometimes referred to as “the suicide.”
You should automatically obtain most of these customers, so make sure you always have their favorites in-stock. Resist the urge to overstock all but the very top-sellers in the fastest-moving categories like beer and smokes. Your sales reps should be happy to assist.
Super-critical for your success with this type of store is a great deli program, as there are many young folks who may not cook much — or even possess cooking utensils. Pizza and/or chicken offerings (if you are dedicated to their success) are often great choices.
Much success with your new venture, and remember: Business is about risk and reward, but just because you take the risk does not assure that you will get the reward. Hard work, dedication and discipline are keys to success!