Author Topic: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...  (Read 5742 times)

Offline vicious

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Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« on: June 19, 2011, 03:05:59 PM »
Before I get started, if this is in the wrong place, feel free to move it...

I'm hoping some of you might be able to give me some unique ideas I might use in converting my office into a rural store.

Some background. When I moved to my property I was lucky to end up with a few outbuildings, one of which is 800sqft and is currently being used as my office. I'm fortunate enough to be a telecommuter, and having a dedicated office has been absolute must for me. Well, lately I've been thinking that I could downsize the office (I don't need 800sqft for a couple of PCs) and use the building for something that could generate some income.

The layout of the building is pretty simple. It's a square building, separated into two equally sized large rooms (the back contains the bathroom), it has central heating and air, and two large windows in the front. Prior to my purchasing the house I was told it was a computer store, bait shop, and even a video store. We get plenty of drive by traffic, but I'm not sure any of those would be feasible. There's also our favorite convenience store 3 miles closer to town from our place, and they sell gas, so I think a convenience store would be hard to make profitable. I could be over thinking that.

As I'm a city boy, transplanted into a rural area, I'm not quite sure what would be a good fit. Furthermore, I'm not sure I want to deal with a lot of permits. Some idea's I've had, but talked myself out of, are a coffee shop, a general store, and a this and that second hand type of store. I'm a computer guy by profession, but it's definitely not something I can see flourishing here. Also, it would be my wife working it alone until it got off the ground and replaced my income, if that day ever came to pass.

So, if you have any ideas, please let me know! I'll give consideration to just about anything.

Offline TexDaddy

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2011, 03:17:35 PM »
Well, considering the state your profile indicates you live in, there are a few horses in that area. Maybe something like a tack shop or something that appeals to the horse crowd.

Offline Bubafat

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2011, 03:21:46 PM »
I guess the best question (inspired upon by Jacks recent interview with M.J. Demarco) is what does the community need?  What do people complain about needing?

While the businesses that have been in your location may have failed for other reasons, you can somewhat safely assume that the community didn't need a bait shop, video shop or computer repair.

Since you're in a rural community, you may need to think about something that is internet based with a store front.  This definitely lends credence and legitimacy to any internet business in my opinion and it also allows for local interaction.  I don't know whether you'll get enough foot traffic for ANY storefront only business.

One idea I'll give you is look to sell to the government.  With our ever increasing government and their requirement of purchasing things from small businesses (especially disabled veteran-owned), there's a lot of opportunity to create a company that sells on the internet and to the government with a storefront.

Check out FBO.gov and do some searching.  In my limited experience with battery related searches, the government spends HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS every year on batteries...mostly lead acid.

Good luck.

Offline P_Coltrane

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2011, 03:22:23 PM »
Farmers market / produce stand?

Offline vicious

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2011, 04:34:58 PM »
A horse / tack shop might just be a great idea. I know nothing about horses, but the neighbor across the street does raise them. Always a good resource!

Unfortunately I don't spend a lot of time out in the community. Between working from home and working on the home, I tend to keep my trips to town short and simple, and it keeps me from really getting into the know. That's something I plan on changing, but will certainly take some time.

The road in from of my "office" is pretty highly traveled, but is no interstate. It's mostly local people heading into town, people from town heading to the lake (5 miles away with their own bait shop), and rough necks heading to or from one of the many oil rigs around here.

Selling to the government is a great idea, as is the farmers market. I really need to look into both of them.

Thanks!

Offline d0j0w0

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2011, 08:04:50 PM »
Corn/Pellet stoves, Wood stoves, Soapstone stoves.

Offline NWBowhunter

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2011, 08:12:19 PM »
If your wife is going to run it. What is her passion? With that you decide what will work best.

Offline Malamute

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2011, 08:34:02 AM »
Make and sell colloidal silver.

Offline Bubafat

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2011, 08:41:16 AM »
I have some snake oil I can wholesale to you if you'd like!  100% real.

Offline Malamute

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2011, 01:10:37 PM »
I have some snake oil I can wholesale to you if you'd like!  100% real.
Buba I'm not sure if you're clowning my post, maybe you are, maybe you're not...whatever the case I'll admit I'm not convinced as to the merits of colloidal silver with regard to improving health by imbibing it--so far the evidence in favor of it has been "anecdotal"--it could be snakeoil but then again silver does have antimicrobial properties and for this reason alot of people would be interested in colloidal silver.  Would there be enough of a market for it to justify making and selling it?  That I don't know.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2011, 01:46:25 PM »
I am thinking an internet store.  find something you are passionate about.  something about which you know lots of cool facts and that you enjoy doing.  and sell your stuff over the internet.  but have a physical storefront as well.  hang your shingle out "Vicious' Vermin" and folks can stop in and buy your rats, but you can also sell them at "VeciousVermin.com" and if your niche is right, your online customers can make a detour in their roadtrips to come visit the store as well.
but I really think that a storefront is no longer the way to make money.  No one is going to drive even 20 min to a store, cool as it is, if they can buy the same thing online and have it delivered to their door for roughly the same cost.  even with shipping costs, I find a lot of things cheaper online than in the big box or local niche stores.  so, find your niche, sell it online, and have a small storefront for those visitors who happen to be passing by.

along the lines of this, I read an article in the Costco magazine about a lady in Alaska who would take costco orders from her neighbors, then once a month she would drive the 4 hours to the nearest Costco and pick everything up.  They would compensate her for her time and gas, but they didn't have to drive it.
I see you are in OK, check into Bountiful Baskets (bountifulbaskets.org) - they are looking for places to have as a pickup.   when you get your business off the ground, volunteer your place as a pickup point.  that will get people there for their produce, and they will probably stick around to see whatever you are selling.  even if they do not buy, they will tell someone who is looking to buy your widgets.

Offline Bubafat

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2011, 03:33:24 PM »
Is there any interest in a "Brew and Grow" type of store in your area?  That would be something that you could do both locally and on the internet.  Everyone loves beer (as well as other things that one can do with yeast) and it's something that both yuppie and redneck do alike. 

Offline vicious

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2011, 06:48:59 AM »
Thanks for all the ideas guys! I have been talking to my better half about them, and she's very interested in doing something along the lines of a farmers market. We actually have a friend who grows and sells many different types of melons. It's surprising that we didn't think of it, as we've talked about the lack of one for years. Thanks! I'm not sure I know the first thing of starting one, but that's nothing more than research and perseverance. After all, if we've thought about it, we can't be the only ones can we?

The other ideas are very solid as well. I'm sure there's room for a combination. I know nothing about colloidal silver or brew and grow, but again it's nothing more than research.

Thanks for the link to bountiful baskets as well. I'll definitely keep that in mind.

Offline mxitman

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2011, 10:41:34 AM »
Depending on how rural you are and wether or not they have a coffee shop in town. I'm currently visiting my in-laws in northern Minnesota the closest town is a population of 180. A few years ago a local shop opened up an internet cafe and the first few years were slow but it is now a thriving business. Most people out here don't have high speed internet, so it made perfect sense. Not sure if that would work for you out where your at or not. Internet cafe wouldn't cost a whole lot more, not sure about permits, adding a farmers market would be good too.

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2011, 11:01:03 AM »
I live in a community that lost both it's general stores in the last five years because the owners retired.  One became a bar, the other an art gallery.  But there's still no where to pick up a bell pepper, onion and lettuce for fajitas tonight, nowhere to pick up a half-gallon of milk on the way home, and nowhere to pick up some burger buns if I have company coming over unexpectedly.  Instead, it's a half-hour round trip to the closest proper grocery store and 20 minutes to the convenience store (not very convenient).

But you're not in my neighborhood so it's hard to tell what folks really need while driving by.  I'd encourage you to find out where the nearest hardware store, convenience store, animal supply store, and other various necessities of life are.  Look at the population of the area and how many people would want what you have at a little higher price than retail if it saved them 20, 30, or 60 minutes driving all the way to the next closest place.  You can make it whatever you have a passion for (whether it's knitting, painting, or whatever), but draw in traffic flow with the necessities of life in some niche that's not nearby.

Be mindful if you're in the middle of nowhere, most of us have a pretty well stocked freezer and try to be as self-reliant as possible, but there's always convenience items.  If you're talking about roughnecks driving by all the time, do they always leave home with a lunch?  If they forget their lunch, where are they likely to stop on the way to the rig?  Could making sandwiches, chips, and soda get them in the door, but some little trinket be the real money maker along with your passion?  Or, if you find out they have a tendency to run out of some commonly available hardware part, perhaps keeping a couple in stock would buy you repeat business.  I know if I had a general store in my area that carried pipe fittings, I'd save myself $200 a year in wasted fuel.

Also, I agree that an internet cafe is a solid idea, especially if you have something else drawing them in.  Not everyone that's traveling has a laptop and internet connection.  Being able to stay in touch with family while working out of state is always an easy sell.  Especially if you make it easy on them and can charge them to print photos on premium paper and upload photos easily.

Offline Roundabouts

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Re: Looking for interesting ideas for rural store...
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2011, 03:39:24 PM »
A friend of mine opened a yarn store in our small town.  So many said it wouldn't fly.  I am sure they are right maybe it will fail in year 32 cuz it didn't this year (31).  My friend has a huge passion for knitting and yarn and stuff so that was a perfect fit.   As far a people not driving to a location I personally would rather spend a few bucks more to go to a store and handle what I want to buy vs looking at a picture on the web.  But I am a weird duck.  I know of a store where people will fly in from all over the world and drive in from all over the country to make a purchase.  Some call it their shopping vacation.  I worked the store the day after Thanksgiving and we brought in 35k from 9am -4 pm and the most expensive item was $80.  Man we were busy.  My point is you just never know.  Find the solution to a problem.  Read some books on business.  Build a network of people. Talk with others that have been in business for themselves good bad or indifferent  there is always a lesson to learn.  Then just go for it.