According to Mike Carr of business agents Everett, Masson & Furby, there is not a typical convenience store owner. “You get people going into business for the first time who want a business that they can understand fairly quickly. You also get people who have come out of the professions – retired bank managers for example. The good thing about the market is that it appeals to a wide variety of people.”
Another advantage of this business is that you can come to it without prior retailing experience. And if you are a little unsure about jumping in at the deep end, you can often arrange a settling in period at the start.
Paul Williamson, director of business transfer agents Ernest Wilson, explains, “When we sell a business there is a period of time before completion during which people can go in and work with the vendors, learn how to do the job and also check the figures.”
A lot of people don’t know where to buy their stock from, what to charge etc. The vendors can show them how to run the business and also introduce them to the customers, which is important.”
Not everything can be gained from experience, however. Andrew Bresnan, a convenience store owner in Dorset, says that having the right personality is crucial. “The most important aspect is to be able to get on with the general public. Another factor is to be very well organised and stay on top of the paperwork. There is a lot of paperwork in this business, with invoices and so forth.”
You will also need to be prepared to put in the hours. Many convenience stores attract business by staying open when the superstores are closed. This is especially relevant on Sundays, when superstores, by law, can only open for six hours. You may need to stay open late at night if you are selling alcohol, and likewise, if you are running newspaper delivery rounds, you’ll have to be up with the dawn chorus.
Even if you keep your day short, you may struggle to cope on your own. At the very least, this is a business for a couple who can share the long hours and alternate between running the shop floor and running the back office. However, sharing your business and your home life can put a lot of pressure on a relationship, so make sure you are ready to take that step.