Do you want to start a grocery store business with low investment? If YES, here are 50 best small grocery store related business ideas you can start with no money in 2020.
Whether you love it or hate it, grocery shopping is one of those unavoidable chores that we get to do for the rest of our lives because the human body needs food and maintenance.
What is a Grocery Store?
A grocery store or grocer’s shop is a retail shop that primarily sells food. Grocery stores offer perishable and non-perishable foods that are packaged in bottles, boxes and cans; some also have bakeries, butchers, delis, and fresh produce.
In 2013, grocery stores accounted for 90% of the country’s food and beverage store sales, while supermarkets accounted for 95% of the total grocery store sales. This goes to show that grocery shopping is an integral part of human life, and any such business that appeals to life sustenance is sure to become profitable if it is handled properly.
If you want to start a business in the grocery or food line, here are 50 profitable grocery business ideas you can look to.
50 Best Grocery Store Related Business ideas for 2020
- Become a Greengrocer
A greengrocer is a retail trader that focuses on fruit and vegetables; that is, on green or beneficial groceries. Greengrocer is primarily a British and Australian term, and greengrocers’ shops are common in cities, towns and villages.
With people being very particular about their health needs, they now focus more on consuming fruits and vegetables. You can start a green grocery store if you are looking for a niche in the grocery business. A greengrocer store can operate comfortably next to a supermarket or grocery store.
- Start a Health food store
A health food store is a type of grocery store that sells health foods, organic foods, local produce, and often nutritional supplements. Health food stores became common in the 1960s as a result of the newly emerging ecology movement and counterculture.
Health food stores typically offer a wider or more specialized selection of foods than conventional grocery stores to their customers with special dietary needs; but nowadays, everybody wants to eat and live healthy, so you would make healthy profits from this business.
- Start a Delicatessen
A delicatessen or deli is a retail establishment that sells a selection of unusual or foreign prepared foods such as types of cheese and cold cooked meat, often from other countries. The name of this store is often abbreviated to deli. The term delicatessen means “delicacies” or “fine foods”.
In English, delicatessen originally means specially prepared food but a deli can sell snacks, milk cheese and sometimes half cooked meals and fully prepared meals. This store is also within your alley if you want to start a grocery style business.
- Open a milk bar
A milk bar is a suburban local general store or café. Similar terms include tuck shops and corner shops. The first businesses using the name “milk bar” was started in India in 1930. By the late 1940s, milk bars had evolved to include not only groceries, but also became places where young people could buy ready-made food, non-alcoholic drinks and could socialize. You could bring back good old times in your community by opening a milk bar.
- Start an Indian food store
When people are looking for Indian specialty foods or ingredients that can’t be found at the corner store or neighborhood supermarket, they typically head to Indian grocery stores especially if it is not too far from their location. Such retail establishments sell food and items that are uncommon and not carried by bigger stores.
Opening an Indian grocery can be a lucrative business venture, especially if you live in a city with little competition and a lot of Indians and Asians. There are several things you can do to help your Indian grocery store succeed, and you can learn these through extensive research.
- Become a direct grocery retailer
Business owners around the United States have found a way to bring quality food products directly to consumers without the expense of opening a brick-and-mortar grocery store, and they are also saving their customers money in the process.
You don’t need to deliver products all over the country to make profit, you can just start with you locality. If you are a skilled negotiator and you relish the idea of working directly with farmers or other food producers, then this business idea might be the one for you.
You have a few options available if you want to start a bulk grocery delivery service. The first is to simply contact local grocery stores to deliver customers’ orders for a fee. The grocery store would bill the customer, market the service and manage the deliveries. You simply deliver the groceries.
The second and more lucrative option is to establish a buying account with a grocery wholesaler and resell groceries to your customers at a profit. You can deliver fresh, organic, gourmet food to many different areas within the United States. You can target college students without cars, working professionals who are short on time, busy new parents etc.
Opening a mini-grocery can be a lucrative business venture especially if you live in a city with little competition. When people are looking for specialty foods or ingredients that can’t be found at the corner store or neighborhood supermarket, they typically head to small grocers, also called mini-grocery stores.
Such retail establishments sell food and items that are uncommon or not carried by bigger stores. To set up your mini-grocery store you’ll need to address the legalities, find a location, acquire equipment, choose suppliers and advertise your business.
- Start a drug store
A drug store is a retail store where medicines and miscellaneous articles like food, cosmetics, and film are sold. Most drugstores also carry an assortment of health and beauty products, and some may carry many other products such as groceries, books and magazines, consumer electronics, etc.
It is on record that some drugstores obtain the majority of their revenue from these additional products. If you are looking for a business idea in the grocery niche, you can do well to start a drug store, but you have to note that you need special licenses and permits before you are allowed to start this particular store.
- Start a Grocerant
A grocerant is a grocery store that sells prepared meals that are either eaten on the site or taken home by shoppers. A lot of American families have two employed parents and as such may not have enough time to prepare fresh meals for their families and this gave rise to the grocerant. The word grocerant is a hybrid of ‘grocery’ and ‘restaurant.’
The grocerant trend has been fueled by consumers’ need for convenience and desire to eat fresh, high-quality family meals. Grocerants offer a one-stop-shopping solution for consumers driven by either curiosity or a lack of time, and an increasing number of grocery stores now allow customers to buy and eat on the spot. This is another lucrative grocery business idea.
- Start a gluten-free grocery store
Gluten is a composite of prolamins and glutelins that are stored together with starch in the endosperm of various cereal grains. It is found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, related species and hybrids. People with certain health conditions tend to stay away from gluten, and as such, majority of the population have turned to gluten free foods to reduce their chances of contacting certain diseases.
You can take advantage of this health concern to open a gluten-free grocery store. You can sell fruit, vegetables and legumes, meats, poultry, fish and meat free substitutes, cereals, grains, breads, biscuits, pasta, nuts and cakes, condiments, dips, desserts, sweets, sweeteners and spreads, drinks, dairy foods, cooking ingredients, herbs and spices that are all gluten free.
- Start a seafood business
Seafood is typically every kind of meat that comes from the water. The world is quite big on seafood consumption because of their immense health benefits. So long as your seafood are fresh and your prices are affordable, you would definitely make good profits in this business.
Another good thing about this business is that you can start it from home or without a defined address. You can purchase wholesale products from specific sources and store them in frozen formats and deliver them to customers through a van when they order.
Organic food store is another niche in the grocery business idea. To succeed in the organic food business, it is essential to have a proper plan on how to get authentic organic produce on a regular basis. Location is another very important thing to consider when starting this business as you have to set up in an area where the people are health conscious and can afford the high price of organic produce. This is a secure business idea because people have recognized the health benefits of organic food produce.
- Become an online grocer
An online grocery is a grocery store that allows people to purchase groceries and grocery products online. There is usually a delivery charge for this service. You can start an online grocery business with a small investment by providing customers with good quality products at a specific place through online order. To succeed in this business, investing in the right strategy and cover capital is very important.
- Start an organic food delivery service
Interest in organic foods has been skyrocketing for more than a decade, and the industry has enjoyed 20%+ revenue growth annually. Many people want to buy and eat healthier, organic produces, but for one reason or another (e.g., too busy, don’t know what to buy, can’t get to the grocery store/farmer’s market), they don’t.
Organic food delivery services help to solve this issue. You can deliver a bag of veggies every week or every other week to your customers direct from an organic farm to ensure their freshness. Other things you can add to your delivery list include pre-made meals, box lunches, and the like.
- Start a warehouse club
A warehouse club is a retail store that sells a wide variety of merchandise in which customers may buy large, wholesale quantities of the store’s products. This bulk buying at low cost makes these clubs attractive to both bargain hunters and small business owners
They sell a limited selection of brand-name grocery items, appliances, clothing, and miscellaneous items at a deep discount to business and private customers who must first become club members. Warehouse clubs are sometime actual warehouses with very little designing and plain look as they mostly focus on bulk purchase at wholesale prices. You can start a warehouse club if you can access the required startup capital.
- Open a meat store
When opening a meat store, you should consider stocking all types of meats used for cooking. This includes beef items such as hamburgers and steaks; poultry items such as turkey, game hens and chicken; and pork foods such as sausage, chops and bacon.
You can also stock fish and shellfish in your store so that your customers can find all the meat products they seek for in your store. Your ability to stock a wide range of meat produce would enable you entertain repeat customers. Again, you must always ensure that your meat offerings always meet government safety requirements.
- Start a beverage store
Opening a store that retails beverage products is another grocery business idea. Your beverage store could sell sandwich loaves, dinner rolls, tortillas, bagels, breads, pastas, cereals and rice products. It should also include pitas, hamburger and hot dog buns etc. You should as well not neglect juices, teas, coffee, and various other food drinks.
- Dairy store
A dairy is a building or room for the processing, storage, and distribution of milk and milk products, but the term can also be used to mean a small grocery shop that stocks and sells milk and milk products such as yogurt, cheese, butter, butter milk, creams and sour cream. To appeal to diverse customers, you could sell milk from different mammals such as cows or goats, buffaloes, sheep, horses, or camels. Other items that should be categorized as dairy products are eggs and egg substitutes.
- Retail Canned, Jarred and Packaged Foods
Canning is a method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container. Canning provides a shelf life typically ranging from one to five years, although under specific circumstances it can be much longer.
A 1997 study found that canned fruits and vegetables are as rich with dietary fiber and vitamins as the same corresponding fresh or frozen foods, and in some cases the canned products are richer than their fresh or frozen counterparts. Common canned foods include fruits, vegetables, beans, soups, meats and seafood. You could start retailing canned, jarred and packaged produce.
- Retail ethnic grocery
Ethnic foods can be defined as foods originating from the heritage and culture of an ethnic group who use their knowledge of local ingredients of plants and/or animal sources to make meal creations. To illustrate, Hindu food from India, Maori food from New Zealand, and Masai food from Kenya are all considered ethnic foods.
Getting ethnic grocery to make ethnic food maybe difficult for immigrants in the United States, so you can start an ethnic grocery store to profit from this niche. Note that the more ethnicities you cover, the more profit you stand to make.
- Retail specialty grocery
Specialty foods or groceries are foods or groceries that are considered to be unique and of high-value, and they generally come in small quantities, and the food items are made from high-quality ingredients. Consumers typically pay higher prices for these items because they are perceived as having more benefits.
Specialty grocery stores are customized retail outlets dedicated only to a certain category of products, and they come with simple layouts, neat designs, easy product displays, convenient shopping formats and much shorter queues. This is a profitable grocery niche because you would be catering to the rich. If your town already has a local grocery store, then opening a specialty food shop might be your next port of call.
- Start a wine and cheese store
There is a long history of wine and cheese matching, probably as long as cheese and wine have both been around. Because of that, retailers have thought up selling wine and cheese as a niche grocery idea. It is a fact that supermarkets don’t provide all the different wines and cheese consumers always want, and if they do, they don’t provide perfect combinations. If you are knowledgeable about wines and cheese, you can set up a wine and cheese store where you get to teach your customers how to combine them.
You can open a store that retails pet food, healthy treats, holistic supplements, chemical free grooming products and pet supplies. To have a healthy progress in this business, you must know all there is to know about pets and their supplies. If going by the statistics that more than half of Americans have a pet or more, you are surely going to make decent profits out of this business if it is handled well.
- Start a fruit mart
The new wave of healthy eating and living has ensured that people now include lots of fruits and vegetables in their daily offerings. You can take advantage of this to start a fresh fruit and vegetable mart.
Your fruit store should contain tons and tons of varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables from around the globe, that are differentiated from others by their standard quality and freshness. To become well-known and profitable in this niche, you need to ensure that your store is a one-stop-shop for everything fruits and vegetables. You can as well provide local deliveries so as to take full advantage of the market.
- All things bakery
There are loads of pastry and dessert stores around a typical community and these stores and even private bakers would appreciate a store that stocks all things bakery in one place. You can open a store that is exclusively for bakery products, and you should endeavor to cater to every bakery niche, even exotic. This is definitely not a popular section in the grocery business so you would undoubtedly make a name for yourself in this area. Just ensure you locate your supermarket in the right location.
- Diet grocery store
As people get more health conscious, they tend to embark on different types on diet to keep their health and weight stable. With the myriads of diet types available in the world today, people would sometimes get confused on which to embark on and how to get food types that would be used to sustain such dieting routine. You can open a specialty store that stocks different food products that are used for different dieting routines.
You should first of all find out the types of meal diets available and estimate the number of people that use them, then you can dedicate each section in your store to each of the diet routines, and make sure they are well labeled. You need to be on continuous research because new diet routines come up every other day.
- Start a small batch grocery
A small batch grocery store is a perfect alternative for an entrepreneur who may not have the capital to finance a full grocery store. You can stock specialty goods but in small batches that you can handle. You can open a small batch cheese, spice, bacon, meat, wine or beer etc. store. In order to succeed, you have to ensure that your offerings are always special.
- Start a self-check-out grocery store
The rise in technology has also been revolutionizing how people shop and how grocery stores are run. Today we now have grocery stores where customers or buyers check themselves out, instead of having an attendant who tallies up people’s purchases and receives payment. This type of store requires little staff to run it as shoppers do all the jobs by themselves. Though an attendant is always required to be on standby in case customers have any inquiries.
With the economic downturn, decrease in disposable income, increasing rate of unemployment and emigration into the United States, a lot of people do find it difficult to feed themselves and can only survive by resorting to dollar stores.
You can as well set up a dollar stores and profit from this niche just like other entrepreneurs out there are doing. You have to make sure to set up your store in underprivileged areas where people would be more disposed to shop at your stores. You also need to stock very cheap brands of produce so that people can easily afford them. You can liaise with the manufacturers before you start this business.
- Start a gourmet store
A gourmet grocery store is a type of specialty food store that stocks high quality food and farm produce. This upscale specialty store is a stunning tribute to quality ingredients and expert craftsmanship. This is a store for those who know and value quality and can equally afford to pay for it.
You have to note that every single product on your shelf should be of the best quality to ensure that you get high spending chefs and home owners through your doors. In order to offer something different from others, you can have a bevy of in-store chefs ready to offer tips or inspiration or your customers.
A candy store is a store that stocks a large variety of candy, chocolates, gum and mints, and at great prices. This is another profitable supermarket business idea. You should always source for the best bargains and sock even gourmet candy and chocolate so as to cater to different niches and pockets.
- Start a herb and spice store
Seasoning and spices are another supermarket business idea. For sure, there are supermarkets that stock seasonings and spices alone and they make good income out of it because there is a huge market for them. You can source for and stock natural, organic, alternative, exotic and specialty spices and seasonings. To maintain your reputation, you have to ensure that your spices are not adulterated.
- Start a bulk-food store
Bulk foods are food items offered in large quantities which can be purchased in large, bulk lots or transferred from a bulk container into a smaller container for purchase. By eliminating packaging, bulk grocery stores offer consumers savings of 50 percent or more on certain items.
Items are usually displayed in barrels, containers or bags, such as the cracker barrel, coffee barrels, dried-nuts barrels, candy barrels, spice barrels, cereal barrels and dozens more. How it typically works is that the supplier delivers a bag, container or drum full of grains, oil, honey etc. to a shop. The product is put onto the store floor in its original bag, container or drum or is transferred to a dispenser for the consumer. The supplier picks up the empty containers for reuse or recycling, depending on the product.
The shopper comes along with containers or bags. The containers and bags are weighed first, by the store keeper. You get to fill up your bags and containers, and when you are ready to pay, the store keeper will deduct the weight of your container or bag from the total weight, and you pay for the difference.
- Start a waste free grocery store
In the United States, trash amounts to 1.4 billion pounds per day, and 40% of that trash comes from packaging. Considering that packaging forms about 40 percent of the waste in grocery stores, you can start a package-free, zero waste grocery store that provides fresh, local and organic food.
The store will be made provide all of the basic ingredients needed for a healthy lifestyle such as meats, dairy, baking goods, cooking oils, spices, grains, and seasonal produce.
In order to reduce package waste, customers would be encouraged to bring their own containers and fill them up with just the right quantity of foods while the store will offer compostable containers for those who don’t have their own. This type of store would rightly appeal to those who are waste conscious.
Most people view grocery shopping as a hated household chore. The checkout lines are long and tedious, the parking lot is crowded and it takes forever to leaves the stores, and it’s just not a fun way to spend your precious free time. The stress created by a trip to the grocery store can be eliminated by hiring a personal grocery shopper. Personal grocery shoppers offer an invaluable service to people who are short on time, people like busy executives.
You can become a personal grocery shopper, and focus on taking the stress off people that cannot afford it or even have the time to afford the stress. You may have to approach nursing mums or print your business cards and share them in offices. This is where to find you primary target market. Unlike other small business ventures, the start-up costs for this endeavor are minimal.
The biggest investment required is your time and the more orders you pick up, the more you stand to earn. Personal grocery shopping can be a full time job or a supplement to current income. The earning potential of a personal grocery shopper really depends on the number of clients you serve and how much time you are willing to devote to the success and growth of the business.
- Start a surplus food store
Surplus foods are basically foods that have passed their “best before” dates, as well as products that haven’t passed quality control. These produce are usually sold at prices 30-50% cheaper than normal grocery stores, but you might get the products off manufacturers and supermarkets for next to nothing, so it is basically a win win situation.
This store is meant to reach out to low-income shoppers, so you should make sure to locate it at such a neighbourhood. You need to have an agreement with a wide range of supermarket chains and volunteers around you so they would always supply you their surplus produce.
- Start a Kosher grocery store
Kosher foods are foods those that conform to the Jewish dietary regulations of kashrut (dietary law), primarily derived from Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Foods that may be consumed according to halakha (law) is termed kosher in English.
If you live in a community with a lot of Jewish adherents, you might want to open a kosher grocery store. You must ensure that your supermarket stocks everything that would make a Jewish meal. If you are situated in the right neighbourhood, you would have no problems with making sales.
- Sell misshapen grocery
An ad says, “a grotesque apple a day keeps the doctor away as well”. With the increasing campaigns for the reduction of food waste, smart entrepreneurs have found a new way to make a business niche out of it. One of them is selling misshapen produce at a discount.
You can set up a grocery store where you sell misshapen fruits and veggies at a discount of between 50 and 60 percent of the original produce. You have to align with farmers to get them to supply you with fruits and veggies no other store would take because of their odd shapes. Note that low income earners would typically form most of your customer base, so ensure to locate your grocery store in such an area.
- Start a Self-Sustaining grocery store
This is an in-store farm concept. The self-sustaining grocery store is a high-tech farm that is located inside a supermarket or grocery store. The idea here is that the store sells produce from the usually hydroponic farm. Given that the hydroponic system does not require pesticides, all of the produce grown in the unit is 100% organic and is said to taste better than comparative alternatives.
If you are very familiar with hydroponic farming and if it is allowed in the area where you want to set up your supermarket, you can go ahead and open up your self-sustaining store. You would definitely draw in the health conscious crowd
- Start a C-store
C-store, also known as convenience store is a small retail business that stocks a range of everyday items such as groceries, snack foods, confectionery, soft drinks, tobacco products, over-the-counter drugs, toiletries, newspapers, and magazines. This is almost like a small grocery store and it is easily manageable for a startup entrepreneur.
- Start a private-label grocery store
Private-label products are products manufactured or provided by one company for offer under another company’s brand. Private-label goods and services are available in a wide range of industries from food to cosmetics etc. It is estimated that private-label products accounted for 14.5% of all US spending on consumer packaged goods.
It is also said that rising food-price inflation may prompt American shoppers to trade down from branded grocery products, and make them shop more of private-label products. This is definitely a rising section, so you can as well open a grocery store dedicated to selling private-label products.
- Sell seasonal products
Seasonal products are products that are either not available on the market during certain seasons or periods of the year or are available throughout the year but with regular fluctuations in their quantities and prices that are linked to the season or time of the year.
These include products which are sold periodically, for instance, during the Christmas Season, Christmas trees will be on sold in major stores. If you may not have the time to run a full year grocery store because you only have time in certain times of the year, you can start selling seasonal produce at those times you are free instead of staying idle.
- Retail household items
Not all groceries sold in stores are edible but they fill a very important household need. This category encompasses non-grocery items that are needed for household maintenance. Items such as laundry and dishwashing detergent are included here. You can sell these household items as a grocery niche.
A health and beauty store is another grocery business idea, there are non-edible products. Your health and beauty store would cover items such as cosmetics, hair dyes and deodorants. Aspirin, pain relievers, cold and flu medicines are examples of items that also fall under health and beauty.
- Retail canned soups and sauce
Soups range from liquids to thinly pureed dishes made from various ingredients that can be served either as a main course or as an appetizer. Countless recipe variations can be made based upon various base sauces. Today, soups and sauces are made with various processes and brought to market in different forms. Because of the various uses of soups and sauces, this product segment would be easy to retail and you would have more profit turnover.
- Retail confectionery products
Confectionery products are products that mainly consist of sugar or similar sweeteners. There is often a distinction made between sweet baked goods and sugar confectionery products, but they can all be found in the same store. You can sell gum and jelly products, aerated confections, fillings, modified confectionery products, chewables, sweets, and dessert applications.
- Packaged Drinking Water retail
Safe water is essential for a healthy body, and because people typically distrust public water service, they get to focus more on packaged water consumption. This then makes a packaged drinking water retail business quite lucrative. This business can be easily started with small investments and you only need to market your products effectively in order to make headway in the business.
- Grocery Store Market Researcher
A grocery store is one of the key reasons for visiting a shopping center and, because people generally shop for groceries more frequently than for clothing or durables, it is a major driver of footfall and impulse or unplanned purchases. My entrepreneurs have noticed it, and as such there are a lot of grocery stores around.
Because of this, anyone who intends to be profitable in the grocery industry must undertake a lot of research to find out underserved areas of the market so as to take advantage of it. This then is the job of the grocery market researcher. If you are very adept in carrying out market research, you could offer your services to startup grocery store, and you would make huge returns from this service.
The frozen food category covers anything that is located in the freezer aisles at the grocery store. This can include ice cream, frozen fruits, frozen meals such as microwaveable entrees, waffles and pizzas. Vegetables and meats that have been frozen are also included in this section too. You can start a frozen food store and you can sure make profits out of it.