An Indian grocery store is a retail outlet where different Indian foods and household products are sold. They engage in retailing general lines of Indian food products, including fresh and prepared meats, poultry and seafood, canned and frozen foods, fresh fruits and vegetables and various dairy products. People love to do their shopping in a grocery store because of the convenience it provides.

When it comes to running a niche grocery store business in Canada, Indian inspired grocery store is one of the most popular in this regard. The fact that there are over 994,667 registered Indians in Canada makes this business a thriving and profitable business.

Besides, the Supermarket and Grocery Stores industry is a large industry in Canada. Statistics shows that the market size, measured by revenue of the Supermarkets & Grocery Stores industry in Canada is $95.5bn in 2021. The market size of the Supermarkets & Grocery Stores industry in Canada has grown 0.6% per year on average between 2016 and 2021.

The Supermarkets & Grocery Stores industry in Canada is the 2nd ranked Retail industry in Canada by market size and the 5th largest. The market size of the Supermarkets & Grocery Stores industry in Canada increased faster than the Retail Trade in Canada sector overall.

Please note that the fact that it is called an Indian grocery store does not in any way restrict the business to only Indians. All entrepreneurs who have what it takes can start and run the business. Having said that, if you are looking towards opening an Indian grocery store in Canada, here are quick steps you can follow to start the business.

15 Steps on How to Start an Indian Grocery Store Business in Canada

Step 1: Conduct Your Feasibility Studies and Market Survey

If you intend to open your Indian grocery store, then one important step that you are expected to take is to conduct thorough feasibility studies and market survey.

With the result from your feasibility and market survey, you will be able to make an informed decision, especially as it relates to the type of groceries to stock in your store, the location for your store, the demographic composition of those who would need your groceries, the likely competitions that you will be confronted with, how to source for groceries and loads of other factors that can either make or mar your business.

Step 2: Choose a Catchy Name for Your Business

There are several Indian Grocery stores in Canada especially in Toronto and one of the things that will stand yours out is the uniqueness of the name of your store. The truth is that, when it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Usually, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend to operate from when naming their business.

Quick advice: Prior to choosing a name for your Indian grocery store business, it won’t cost you anything to go online and check out the names of leading Indian grocery stores so as to be properly guided when choosing your own name.

Step 3: Write a Workable Business Plan

No matter the type or size of business you intend to start in Canada, it is a wise decision to first write a good business plan before taking any action. The truth is that in order to successfully run a business, you would need to have a good and workable business plan in place.

A Business plan is a blueprint that is needed to successfully run a business; with a workable business plan in place, you will reduce the trial and error approach of doing business. You will be able to manage your business; you will know what to do per time and how to handle challenges, growth and expansion.

The whole idea of writing a business plan is not just for the sake of having a business document in place, it is a detailed guide on how to effectively run your business from the scratch. Your business plan should outline and cover strategies on how you intend to manage your business.

The rule of thumb in writing a business plan is to try as much as possible to be realistic and never to over project when putting figures on income and profits et al. As a matter of fact, it is safer to underestimate when writing a business plan so that you won’t be so disappointed when reality sets in.

These are the key areas that should be covered in your business plan;

Executive summary and Company description: you are expected to write about the concept of your business, description of your company, your company’s vision statement, mission statement and where your company will be located.

Other key components that should not be missing in your Indian grocery store business plan are product offering, SWOT analysis, competitive analysis, marketing, and sales analysis/strategies, target market, market goals, pricing, costing and financial projection, publicity, and advertising strategy, expansion, and growth strategies, budget, and start-up capital generation et al.

Step 4: Choose a Legal Entity for Your Indian Grocery Store Business

If you choose to start your Indian grocery store business in Canada, it is important to note that there are only four basic forms of business ownership or legal entity you can build your business structure on and they are sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and cooperative.

You need not get confused on which will best suit your business idea; what you intend to achieve and the type of business you want to build are some of the key factors that will help you make a choice of legal entity for your Indian grocery store business.

Step 5: Register Your Business Name

One other step that can take you closer to achieving your dream of starting an Indian grocery store business in Canada is to register your business name. Of course, you would have done the necessary business name search that will ensure that you are not settling for a name that is already in their database.

In essence, if you don’t want someone to register your business name, then you should be fast about registering the name. As regards your registration and licensing requirements, you should visit your municipal, provincial and federal government to get the process started.

When you successfully complete the process of registering your business name, you will be issued with a Business Number, registered business name, and a GST/HST account. Please note that you can register your business name online via Canada Revenue Agency’s Business Registration Online portal; they take care of all of your federal business registration requirements.

If you want to launch your business in the province of Quebec, you will be required to register using Revenu Québec’s Businesses Portal. You can also go ahead to register for a business number, GST/HST, corporation income tax, payroll, and import/export accounts on the online portal.

Step 6. Source for New Business Financing

One of the reasons why Canada is considered a top destination when it comes to doing business is because there have financial institutions that are established to help finance a new business. So, the next step you are expected to take if you have successfully registered your Indian grocery store business is to ensure that you source for business financing.

The only reason why you should ignore this step is if you already have the required start-up capital needed to kick start your Indian grocery store business and you intend to start on a mom and pop level.

Step 7: Apply and Obtain the Needed Business License and Permits

Please note that business licensing in Canada is different from business registration. It is the city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards Division that handles the application process. If you want to apply for a business license, you need to go along with photo identification, proof of work status and a copy of the registration along with notarized controlling interest forms.

Despite the fact that obtaining a specific business license may not be necessary for all businesses, it is the standard that new businesses in a certain industry will need to get business licenses before they can operate legally within their municipalities. If your business can generate health implications then you need a business license to operate in Canada.

If you are not sure about the type of business license and permit to apply for, then you should visit Industry Canada’s BizPaL. They have a useful tool for finding out what federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal permits and licenses you will need to do business in any province in Canada. As a matter of fact, BizPaL will provide a personalized list of the business documents you need for all levels of government.

Step 8: Register for the Goods and Services Tax/ Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST)

The next step that you are expected to take is to ensure that you register for the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) in your province. If your new small business’s gross income exceeds $30,000, it is mandatory to register for GST/HST. (Note that this Small Supplier exemption doesn’t apply to all businesses: taxi and limousine services, for instance, always have to register for GST/HST.)

In order to be on the good books of the law when operating your Indian grocery store in Canada as a new business that is not making up $30,000, it is still to your advantage to register for GST/HST immediately because of Input Tax Credits, which are basically your way of getting back the GST/HST your business has paid out on purchases for business use.

If you are interested in finding out more information on the GST/HST, visit Answers to Common GST/HST Questions and/or the GST/HST library.

Step 9: Register for Provincial Sales Tax (PST)

The next step to follow in order to ensure that your business is starting on the right footing is to ensure that you register for provincial sales tax (PST). For example, if you choose to start your business in Saskatchewan or British Columbia, or Manitoba, it is compulsory to register as a collector of provincial sales tax (PST). But, if you decide to start your business in Quebec, you will need to register for Quebec Sales Tax (QST).

Please note that some provinces have not harmonized their sales taxes with the federal goods and services tax (GST) and in those provinces, you will also have to register to collect and remit the appropriate provincial tax.

Step 10: Purchase the Needed Business Insurance

The rule of business engagement in Canada is that you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your Indian grocery store business.

You might want to consider buying some or all of these insurance policies covers for your business; General insurance, Health/Medical insurance, Liability insurance, Workers compensation, Overhead expense disability insurance, Business owner’s policy group insurance, and Payment protection insurance.

Please note that if you are going to operate your Indian grocery store business as a mom and pop business, then you might want to learn about home-based and small scale business insurance and how to save money on the cost of business insurance in general.

Step 11: Lease or Rent and ideal Store Location

Another important step to follow when establishing an Indian grocery store business in Canada is to choose an ideal location for your store. When it comes to renting a store facility in Canada, the nature of the type of business you want to do should serve as a guide.

Since your business will serve Indians in Canada, you should endeavor to rent or lease a store facility that is located in an Indian migrant community. Besides, you would need your business license and permit as part of the documents to be tendered before any landlord or realtor will sign any leasing agreement with your grocery store business in Canada.

Step 12: Stock Your Store with Groceries

After renting a store and putting things in place, the next step to follow is to stock your store. The fact that you are operating a niche grocery store business means that you should be deliberate when it comes to stocking your store.

You are expected to stock your Indian grocery store with goods such as wheat flour/chakki aata, Besan/chickpeas flour, Moong dal flour, Ragi flour, Maida, Semolina (sooji), Millet flour (Bajra), Khakhra, Meat, and Milk Products, Noodles, Oil, Pan Masala, Pappad, Pickles, Produce, Rice, Sauces, Snacks, Soup Mix, Spices, Spices Mix and Atta, Ayurvedic, Candies & Cookies, Chutney et al. You may not be able to easily get your Indian grocery supplies in Canada, so you must establish link with suppliers from India.

Step 13: Hire the Required Employees

The only reason why you should ignore this step is if you want to run a one-man business or mom and pop shop. If you want to operate a standard Indian grocery store business in Canada, it is mandatory to hire only those that are legally permitted to work in Canada, or else your business might be fined or shut down.

That is why once you have hired employees, your business will probably need to register with the Worker’s Compensation Board in your province. You can find out more about hiring employees, employment standards and other employee issues from the appropriate authority in your province if you are not sure of how the process works.

Step 14: Advertise and Market Your Indian Grocery Store Business

One thing is certain if you choose to start an Indian grocery store business in Canada, you can be rest assured that there are competitors waiting to compete with you for the available market share especially if you choose to locate the business in an Indian migrant community.

So, if you want your business to do well, then you must fashion out ways to market your products or services. The truth is that if your Indian grocery store business or brand is always in the eyes of the public, they will be tempted to buy from you.

You can use both print and electronic media to promote and advertise your Indian grocery store business, but you must ensure you check up with the government of your city to know the rules and regulations governing the advertising of the type of business you are operating.

In conclusion, please note that these steps are not cast on stone, hence you should make enquiries from the appropriate authority in the province you intend to start an Indian grocery store business if you are not too sure of what is obtainable in the province or city.

Ajaero Tony Martins