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Old 12-27-2012, 06:33 AM
 
Location: Central CT, sometimes NH.
3,255 posts, read 4,907,480 times
Reputation: 3014

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Does anyone own a rural general store? I've been thinking of buying one as a retirement option as a place to live and work. I'd appreciate your personal experiences.
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:10 AM
 
Location: Great Plains
25,584 posts, read 30,493,706 times
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Do you want to retire or change careers?

Retail takes up a fair amount of time. Travel or vacation time become limited. Everything from being there when it is open to ordering merchandise, to merchandizing. If you have employees that might free up some time, then again that depends. To take money from your retirement to invest might not be wise either.

I'd tread carefully.
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:29 AM
 
Location: College Station
15 posts, read 41,659 times
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I own Cstore (retail business)in rural area and it does take your time especially in the beginning but when things starts to settle in its a piece of cake. It doesnt take your vacation time if you have employees that can be able to handle the business for few days while you are out. But you dont want to leave everything to them for too long. Tips: Also if its your first time in this type of business then you should get sales per month and expenses per month and see if there is any money to be made. Whats the store retail margin. How many employees. Also what are the things you can do to improve the sales because no matter what the #'s are you always want to think ahead and look for the ways you can improve those #'s. In my 20+ experience in this field its has become so important now that what type of general population you are going to get as customers. If most of the population is workers then you can expect good sales and improvement becuase they have money to spend. They are older folk then they dont spend much at all, very cheap, they will only buy it if they need it ASAP. People on welfare, they are richest people in the beginning of the month but by mid of month they are pretty much broke and sale decline til you hit another beg of month. So browse around and see what type of people live around that area and come to shop there. I dont know much about your location or the business but I would keep these things in mind. Good luck.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Central CT, sometimes NH.
3,255 posts, read 4,907,480 times
Reputation: 3014
I'm looking at an old fashioned general store with living quarters upstairs. My primary concern is covering expenses for the building/apartment and generating a small income in retirement to live off of. I'm also considering it as an opportunity/social experience for a young adult family member with Aspergers.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:54 PM
 
Location: College Station
15 posts, read 41,659 times
Reputation: 20
Lincolnian, I wouldnt advise you that you dont use all of saving or retirement on this venture. But if you have cash flow laying around that you could invest then I would go head and do this long term investment. I would also look into how much the living quarter would bring in as an income. Also I dont want to be nosey but if you dont mind sharing the monthly sales for the place and multiple it by the margin the general store sales keeps on its products. does it sell lotto? Hot food? or anything that can help increase sales? I would love to help in anyway possible before you purchase this venture. Have you ever been a business owner in the past?
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:36 PM
 
Location: Central CT, sometimes NH.
3,255 posts, read 4,907,480 times
Reputation: 3014
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adimak2004 View Post
Lincolnian, I wouldnt advise you that you dont use all of saving or retirement on this venture. But if you have cash flow laying around that you could invest then I would go head and do this long term investment. I would also look into how much the living quarter would bring in as an income. Also I dont want to be nosey but if you dont mind sharing the monthly sales for the place and multiple it by the margin the general store sales keeps on its products. does it sell lotto? Hot food? or anything that can help increase sales? I would love to help in anyway possible before you purchase this venture. Have you ever been a business owner in the past?
I have no specific store in mind. There are several in Vermont. They tend to run about $250k and have good sized living quarters with 3 or 4 bedrooms. The stated annual income is in the 50 to 70k range. If I want to know more detailed financial information I'd have to take it to the next stage. At this point I'm more interested in finding out about personal experiences of the owners and if anyone has taken this path as a retirement option. I also think it may be a good opportunity for social interaction for a young adult with Aspergers to learn more about interacting with people who would be regular customers.
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Old 01-01-2013, 08:49 AM
 
17,158 posts, read 22,161,261 times
Reputation: 31223
simple question, no simple answer,
so many things in the mix....

there a c-stores that are easy to run, minimum groceries, alot of dsd (vendor supplied items, like soda, chips, etc)

then there are the general stores, which have a flair and character all their own, they have a kitchen, make there own breakfast, lunch and dinner specials, they may sell some produce, some meats, some bakery goods,,,all made at the store. they have groceries, etc.
personally, I love these stores, they are friendly community stores
some have gas, some don't, tho most do.

If you are somewhat serious, and you know the general area/region you might be interested in- look all over to see whats being advertised, whether its on craigslist, in the paper, on Bizbuysell,/loopnet (commercial internet sites) whats listed with realtors (many are) just call a local agent, tell them to email over anything on the market,

There's alot to this-more than meets the eye, but it can work

when looking at a place- you have to study the area, study the competition, also, get to know different wholesalers
there are independent store wholesalers, on many levels, some specialize just on c-stores(7-eleven, cumberland farms, irvings), some specialize on mid-size markets or more grocery stores, like iga's or shurfine stores- now this is important,
these warehouses have salesman/woman that know the landscape of areas, even stores for sale- id also contact these independent wholesalers and ask to speak with director of sales, have a coffee or lunch with them.
Now, these wholesalers have retail specialists, that will work closely and advise you on just about all aspects of business, from teaching you how to cut meat different licenses, , to produce, to bakery, what mix of product to have etc-they can tell you how much labor you need, evaluate the help that is there now, and set budgets, these guys are powerful!! usually they have worked in the area and know the competitive landscape, and there is no out of pocket fee for them,,part of the warehouse package,


when looking for any store for sale- you want to ask for 3 years of tax returns, profit and loss statements, margin percentages (profits) of different areas in the store
get the % of gas/inside sales, also when looking take note of the gas competition,,, is the store you are looking at an independent or branded? if branded, read the contracts carefully, if they service the pumps, what happens if a leak occurs in the tanks, etc.

say you target a store ,,get a little serious,, you want to look at the financials, you may have to sign a confidentiality statement, - this is sensitive info
this is the challenge,,,most small business owners take from the business, rather than having it taxed, so, you may not see much of a bottomline or cashflow - you may want to hire an accountant for this,,have him/her look over the finacials
the owner can look at you as a potential buyer and say- we have perks two kids in college we didnt record all the revenue/profits....well, they may be telling the truth,,but its a moving target, and if you need to get a loan on a bank,,,,good luck,,,they want tangable financial performance


Also, when looking at areas, visit all the competition,,,what can you do thats better? what is missing in the area?
it can be anything from soft serve ice cream, to being a licensed uhaul place, to putting in a pizza oven, making your own pizza, to wanting to offer some locally grown fruits and veggies, and also meat,

Ive seen many buy country stores and do very well, and Ive seen other fail, sooo much in the mix, and beware a very old store with very old equipment- many general stores are in this condition, repairs and renovations are very expensive

If you talked to a few owners of stores - (you wont be competing with) job shadow them for a week, get a feel of day to day life, you may be surprised

good luck
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Old 01-01-2013, 12:21 PM
 
Location: Central CT, sometimes NH.
3,255 posts, read 4,907,480 times
Reputation: 3014
Quote:
Originally Posted by mainebrokerman View Post
simple question, no simple answer,
so many things in the mix....

there a c-stores that are easy to run, minimum groceries, alot of dsd (vendor supplied items, like soda, chips, etc)

then there are the general stores, which have a flair and character all their own, they have a kitchen, make there own breakfast, lunch and dinner specials, they may sell some produce, some meats, some bakery goods,,,all made at the store. they have groceries, etc.
personally, I love these stores, they are friendly community stores
some have gas, some don't, tho most do.

If you are somewhat serious, and you know the general area/region you might be interested in- look all over to see whats being advertised, whether its on craigslist, in the paper, on Bizbuysell,/loopnet (commercial internet sites) whats listed with realtors (many are) just call a local agent, tell them to email over anything on the market,

There's alot to this-more than meets the eye, but it can work

when looking at a place- you have to study the area, study the competition, also, get to know different wholesalers
there are independent store wholesalers, on many levels, some specialize just on c-stores(7-eleven, cumberland farms, irvings), some specialize on mid-size markets or more grocery stores, like iga's or shurfine stores- now this is important,
these warehouses have salesman/woman that know the landscape of areas, even stores for sale- id also contact these independent wholesalers and ask to speak with director of sales, have a coffee or lunch with them.
Now, these wholesalers have retail specialists, that will work closely and advise you on just about all aspects of business, from teaching you how to cut meat different licenses, , to produce, to bakery, what mix of product to have etc-they can tell you how much labor you need, evaluate the help that is there now, and set budgets, these guys are powerful!! usually they have worked in the area and know the competitive landscape, and there is no out of pocket fee for them,,part of the warehouse package,


when looking for any store for sale- you want to ask for 3 years of tax returns, profit and loss statements, margin percentages (profits) of different areas in the store
get the % of gas/inside sales, also when looking take note of the gas competition,,, is the store you are looking at an independent or branded? if branded, read the contracts carefully, if they service the pumps, what happens if a leak occurs in the tanks, etc.

say you target a store ,,get a little serious,, you want to look at the financials, you may have to sign a confidentiality statement, - this is sensitive info
this is the challenge,,,most small business owners take from the business, rather than having it taxed, so, you may not see much of a bottomline or cashflow - you may want to hire an accountant for this,,have him/her look over the finacials
the owner can look at you as a potential buyer and say- we have perks two kids in college we didnt record all the revenue/profits....well, they may be telling the truth,,but its a moving target, and if you need to get a loan on a bank,,,,good luck,,,they want tangable financial performance


Also, when looking at areas, visit all the competition,,,what can you do thats better? what is missing in the area?
it can be anything from soft serve ice cream, to being a licensed uhaul place, to putting in a pizza oven, making your own pizza, to wanting to offer some locally grown fruits and veggies, and also meat,

Ive seen many buy country stores and do very well, and Ive seen other fail, sooo much in the mix, and beware a very old store with very old equipment- many general stores are in this condition, repairs and renovations are very expensive

If you talked to a few owners of stores - (you wont be competing with) job shadow them for a week, get a feel of day to day life, you may be surprised

good luck
Thank you very much for this valuable advice. I spent a good amount of time surveying the area of one of the stores I was interested in purchasing. The traffic count is very low. I also researched the history of the store and talked to some longtime residents. The majority of the business would have to come from local residents who are somewhat geographically isolated and had been accustomed to the general store as their community center. It would require a labor of love and in reality be more of a owner subsidized community service as opposed to a profitable venture. That is okay for someone who has a stable retirement income and they don't have to worry about the income but unfortunately it doesn't work for most people who have to pay the bills. Those expensive renovations/repairs would need to come out of the owner's pockets as they wouldn't be supported by cashflow.

I'm going to keep looking.
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