Do you want to start a brick & mortar store? If YES, here are 50 best brick & mortar business ideas that will resist change and survive future tech trends.
Traditional retailing has had a tough time lately. Traffic in shopping centres in large markets have been seen to be declining. In America, which has about five times as much space in shopping centres per person as Britain, the pain is clearly visible.
Chains that were faltering even before Amazon came on board are now in even deeper trouble. A consultancy firm expects nearly 10,000 stores in America to close this year, about 50% more than those that closed at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. All this means that consumers are now buying a wider range of goods online.
Shops used to compete by offering a combination of selection, price, service and convenience, but E-commerce’s most obvious edge is in selection and convenience. Even the biggest store cannot hold as many items as Amazon can offer.
While many people believe brick-and-mortar shops are doomed in today’s tech-driven world, but there are still a number of businesses that thrive despite the convenience of online shopping. Here are a few of those businesses that need brick and mortar stores to function, and will never go down no matter how popular online stores become.
50 Best Brick & Mortar Business ideas That Will Resist Change
- Health and personal care stores
There are some things that consumers much prefer walking into a store for, and that is for their drugs and personal care products. The health and beauty category continues to grow and thrive despite the prevalence of online stores. This area also includes drugstores and your local pharmacies that carry everyday local essentials. For some consumers, ordering their daily face cream online just isn’t fast enough for them. If they’re out of face cream they need to be able to walk to their drugstores and pick it up.
The pet supplies industry is a popular and growing niche market of retail. Recession or not, consumers have continued to buy pet supplies, including food, clothing, even carriers and carriages, and that trend is not going away. Consumers see their pets as a part of their family, and they spend time researching the products they feed them, the products they sleep in and the products they play with.
More importantly, pet stores, whether large or small, are often very good at meeting the personal connection with their shoppers, because many stores host in-store events such as adoptions.
Another appealing factor of these stores is that shoppers can bring their pets with them. These types of personal connections really drive people to the stores. The new pet-friendly store trend is very important. It makes a big difference as to whether or not you can leave the house to shop.
One reason physical stores still matter in the sale of automobiles can be attributed to the complexity and size of the purchase, and equally the amount of money involved. The larger the purchase, the more a consumer will engage in multiple ways to investigate the product before a transaction is made.
For instance, consumers looking for a new or used car will first look online to read reviews, but ultimately want to see and likely test drive a car before buying. Automobiles can also be described as emotional purchases, meaning consumers need to touch and inspect an item before buying.
- Discount Home furnishings and home decor
Furniture stores and home decor stores, with the exception of discount home stores, took a beating with the economic downturn. Consumers passed up that new couch and other home furnishings as part of an overall reduction in expenses.
What consumers are doing is refurbishing their old stuff and spiffing up rooms with a fresh coat of paint or decorations. This makes consumers to hold their homes dearer to their hearts, and can only allow furniture they can fall in love with to be added to it.
In fact, people are emotionally attached to their furniture and would much rather see what they are buying than order online. Whether it’s do-it-yourself furniture from stores such as Ikea or more traditional furnishing stores, people will always want to touch, sit and lay on the stuff before they make a purchase.
- Home Appliances
Appliances can also be categorized as emotional purchases — meaning it’s likely the consumer will want to see the product before buying. People want to go to the store to see if it’s going to look good, if it’s going to fit in their space and if it’s a device they can operate. It’s hard to return a washer and dryer once it gets delivered to your house and you haven’t looked at it and you can’t figure out the buttons.
With online shopping, there is also the uncertainty over guarantees and warranties. There have been several instances in the past where customers have been denied in-warranty service because they bought the item online. This issue primarily concerns electronics bought online. This uncertainty breaks the trust there is between the consumer and e-store. With a physical store and its solid purchase receipt, claiming warranty is never an issue.
- Specialty apparel retailers
Specialty retailers, where there is a strong product-and-service bundle and the service is the big difference, are another form of establishment that won’t soon be relegated to Web-only. Bridal gowns and men’s suits where trying it on matters and the service of alteration matters are two examples of a specialty apparel retailer. Most people would rather go to the store to try out the clothes before buying to make sure they fit.
- High-end retailers
The high-end apparel retailer is another category suited for bricks-and-mortar because customers typically look for personal service. Their penetration of online sales vs. overall sales is much lower than other industries.
There is always the risk of purchasing these items online, and this is because people would always wonder if those items will be the right fit for them. If you really want to spend a lot of money on an item, say a watch, you would want to see it to make sure it would suit your purposes before buying.
- Prescription eyeglass centers
Another area that will still need personal service is prescription items such as eyeglasses. When you have things like sunglasses and eyeglasses, it’s not just making sure the optical prescription is correct, but people want to see how it looks on them. You’re never going to get that looking over the Internet. This is why people prefer to walk down to eyeglass stores to carry out fittings to make sure what they are buying would be the right fit for them.
- Department stores
Department stores offer something more than just clothing, shoes, jewelry and household items. Starting with the chains that opened more than a century ago, they offer shoppers an experience. There is a social aspect to the stores. It’s a place where women, young adults and families can congregate for an hour or for the day. Many department stores also have food so patrons can take a break as they peruse merchandise.
So, whether or not sales go up or down, fluctuating depending on the economy, it really is an experience. Especially the ones in small-town America where the drive is 30 minutes to get to the local department store. It is almost like an outing.
While there has been some success at selling groceries online with delivery service, for the most part, consumers would rather just go to the store. This is particularly true for the purchase of specialty meats and cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, for instance.
It’s also important to have access to stores for emergency purchases — running out of milk, for instance, or a quick shop that would be quicker than clicking online and waiting for delivery. The grocery store, whether the small-town grocer or large chain store, is something that will continue to thrive as a brick and mortar store.
The wedding day is one of the best days in a woman’s life, and she would want everything to be perfect, especially her dress. This is one of the reasons why brick and mortar bridal stores still thrive, and will continue to thrive despite the ease of online shopping.
A bride would want to make sure that her dress is the right fit, that it suits her moods and emotions, and you can never find out all these over the internet. Furthermore bridal dresses sometimes need alterations to become perfect. These alterations can only be made if the bride goes to the store to fit the dress. So, despite eCommerce, brides, till tomorrow would always go to brick and mortar stores to find their dresses.
- Men’s suits
Men are very particular about the fittings of their suits. If it is not perfect, then it is not good enough. This is the reason why men would always visit brick and mortar stores to try out suits before they buy them. Trust me; you do not want to make repeat journeys to the stores.
- Cosmetics sales
In as much as people find it easier to stay in their houses to order their favorite cosmetics online and have it delivered to their homes, but quite a number of people still prefer to hit the stores for this essential. When people go to the stores, they find it easier to feel the products, compare brands and ingredients before settling on a purchase.
Consulting can cover any field including business, human resource, travel, tax, fashion, nutrition, educational, wedding/bridal, relationship/marriages, real estate/home ownership, investment consulting etc. You play to your strengths and your qualification/expertise. Here, you need an office where people can come and meet up with you for their needs. Though online consultancy still works, but it will not foster the same camaraderie you will get while doing it face to face.
- Child Care
Child care is another popular in-home business idea. Of course you cannot care for children or babysit them online; you must have to have a suitable location to be able to run the business. You can run this business out of your own home or go to your clients’ homes.
A staffing agency is just like a hiring agency, and what these agencies do it to hire staff for companies and organizations. Yes, applicants can send in their applications online and preliminary interviews can also be done online.
But for the hiring process to be complete, the applicant needs to come around for a face to face interview, and it is for this reason that staffing agencies need brick and mortar offices. A hiring agency without a physical office may not be fully trusted.
A fitness center is one of the very few businesses that can never be done without a physical location. This is because fitness centres or gyms are equipped with the latest fitness paraphernalia that clients can use to keep the various parts of their bodies fit and toned. People can claim that they participate online by following the directions of the instructor, but that in itself cannot beat the experience that can be gotten in a gym.
- Photo studio/photography
To take a photo, an object has to be present, and if a person wants the photograph to be professionally done, he or she has to go to a photo studio. So any photographer that wants to make a name for him or herself in the industry needs to get a photo studio no matter how small. Having a studio also gives the business a lot of stability while enabling you to expand quickly.
A day care is like a school where parents bring their babies and toddlers to be cared for till when they are fee enough to pick them up. For the establishment of a day care center to be complete, it has to have a brick and mortar facility, a facility where parents can bring their children to. This is another business that has defied the online craze.
- Cooking/catering school
The act of cooking is a skill, and not everyone possesses this skill. That is why they are schools that dedicate their curriculum to teaching students how to cook professionally. Though people can learn to cook certain dishes from watching videos on YouTube, but the art of cooking can never be learnt from a distance, you have to be up close and personal, and even join in the practice for you learn efficiently. This is what has been sustaining brick and mortar cooking schools and they are going to be sticking around for a long time.
With the proliferation of sites like Amazon and the rest where one can get almost any book in the world, one can begin to think that brick and mortar books stores have fizzled out. But this is not true. Books are one of those items that pack a sentimental punch and that is why people experience a special trill when they visit book stores to make selections. Again, reading hardcover books has a novel feel that can never be replaced and as such no matter how cheap or easily accessible eBooks are, people would still go for hardcovers and they would prefer to buy from their local bookstores.
With a coffee cart business, you can bring your cart to the areas where customers are likely to congregate, meaning that you don’t even necessarily need a website or other online presence. After all, you are not making deliveries; you clients would come to you for their coffee.
A convenience store is another brick and mortar business that is going to stay relevant for so long. This is because a convenience store stocks everyday essentials like bread, milk, butter, cereals, lady care items etc., and these are items that are usually needed at the spur of the moment where one cannot start waiting on online stores to make deliveries. The need this business solves is what keeps it relevant.
- A cafe
A cafe is a store that sells coffee and confectioneries. A lot of people have the habit of visiting cafes every morning on their way to work or school. So these businesses serve a need that may never be properly delivered online.
- Wood workshop
A wood workshop is a workshop where items are created out of wood. These items can be chairs, tables, cabinets, beds, prams, etc. It is a fact that one can start this business by creating these items at home and selling them online, but if the business starts growing and expanding, there would be need for a brick and mortar store, at least a showroom where these items can be displayed for sell.
It is a fact that a lot of states do not allow people to operate bakeries out of their homes, so if you want to start baking and selling confectioneries, you must get yourself a brick and mortar store where you can bake your products and display them for sale.
- Bed and mattress
Bed and mattress are other items that have an emotional value, and people would much rather see and feel what they are buying before making the purchase. Nobody wants to get a mattress that they would end up not liking, and because the product is bulky, returning it would mean added expenses.
- Sporting goods store
No two sport items fit the same, that is the reason why people prefer to go to the stores themselves to get their sports items than buy them online. Again, buying from a brick and mortar store would enable them use the specialized advise of a customer service person, in case the buyer is a newbie.
- General merchandise
There are general things people need on a day to day basis that they feel are easy to get by stopping by a store on their way back from work. Again, they feel the cheapness of these items would not be worth the shipping charge and would also not be worth the wait. Things like batteries, pads, pills, diapers etc. fall into this category.
For now, the majority of cars still run on gas, and cars need a regular top up of gas if they are to continue running on the roads. Gas is not something one can order online under any circumstances, and this is why gas stations would remain brick and mortar locations.
It’s also possible to set up a local gift shop without any kind of ecommerce store, as long as you’re in a great location that customers are likely to visit.
- Print Shop
Print shops help customers print anything from signs to t-shirts. And you can even provide a place where customers can complete their own printing and copying jobs, all from an offline location. I mean, you need to have a location where you can set up your printing machines and from where you can accept jobs from people.
- Farmers’ Market
A farmers market is one other business that can ever succeed as an online endeavor. This is because people need to come to the market to see for themselves what they want before they purchase them. If you sell flowers, plants, food or similar items, you can also procure your own booth at local farmers’ markets and sell your goods that way.
- Clothing Designer
For those who make clothing, you can also focus mainly on selling your items wholesale to local stores instead of setting up your own ecommerce site. Again, people would constantly come to you for outfitting, so you need to have a store for that.
There’s also a lot of demand for mobile phone repairs. So you can set up a storefront where people can bring their devices with cracked screens or other issues. People may be wary mailing off their devices to a repair shop, and would much rather take the devices to the shops on their own. So, you need a brick and mortar store to run this business.
- Fabric alteration business
This business services people who have clothing that need one alteration or the other before it can fit. Clients would need to bring their clothing to you to either tuck in a hem, reduce sleeve or body length, add zippers or buttons, etc., and they would much rather come to a brick and mortar store to explain themselves than do it online.
Any business that has to do with planting needs to have a location where the crops are planted, and where the crops can be kept after harvest. For Christmas trees, you can grow pine trees on your land and welcome visitors to come pick out their own trees during the holiday season.
It is a fact that massages can’t be done online. Anyone that wants to get a massage must have to come to the massage parlor for him or her to be attended to, unless the person is operating a mobile massage business. So, to start this business, you need an offline location where you can set up your beds and stock your equipment.
- Waxing studio
This business has almost same operation with a massage parlor, thus businesses in this niche need a brick and mortar location where people can come in and get their waxing done. This is not a service that is available online, though you can do your bookings and maybe payments online.
A dentist by nature sets up a clinic, and people are required to book an appointment before they come in. A dentist is another business that cannot operate online totally because patients have to come in to be examined by the doctor, and if treatment is to be administered, it would be done on the patient, and as such, he or she needs to be present.
- Pet shelter
A pet shelter is a place where pet owners take their pets in the event they have to leave town for an extended period. These shelters provide food, exercise and a good sleeping area for the pets. This business needs a physical location to run because the pets would need a place to stay.
People are usually very busy, but they still make out time to take their kids to amusement parks. These parks are places that offer a lot of fun and entertaining rides and games where people come to relax and unwind. Because of the nature of this business, it cannot be run online. People need to come to the location to experience the fun and thrill.
Zoos are places where animals are kept for people to visit and observe. Yes, zoos do have online sites where people can follow up on the progress of the animals, but there must be a location where the animals are kept and where people can visit. This kind of business cannot be run online exclusively.
Dancing is a physical activity, and for your to learn the steps, you must pay a visit to the studio to take some classes. This is one of the reasons why dance studios cannot be run online exclusively.
- Private School
If you are planning to open a school, then know that this is one venture you cannot carry out online. Students need to have places they can come in to take classes every day, so you need to have a conducive location for that. Of course you can run an online school, but when it involves school age children, parents would much rather prefer a brick and mortar school.
You can also start your own car washing or detailing business without having any kind of online presence. As long as you are in a visible location, people would always bring their cars to your shop for washing and detailing.
- Bicycle Repairs
For those who are skilled with bicycle repairs, you can create a business around that skill in your garage or a local storefront. The most important thing is to have a location where people can bring their bikes to you for repair.
Tattoo studios are another business that need brick and mortar locations to function. People usually come into these studios, pick their designs and have it inked on their skin. This inking cannot be done online and as such physical locations are necessary for this business.
Despite the prominence of online stores, hair and nail salons still thrive in their offline locations. This is because these salons are often equipped with equipment that may be difficult to haul around, so they are stationed in one place. Again, people prefer to visit these salons so they can meet up with people and maybe come up to speed with the latest fad.
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