35 Low Cost Retail Business Ideas


Opening a retail store is a popular way to start your own business. There is a huge range of products for sale and you can run your business in person or online. Some retail business ideas may require a lot of capital, but that’s not true for all. Here are some options for those on a budget.

What is a retail business?

A retail business includes any business that sells goods or services directly to consumers for their consumption or use. Traditionally, retail businesses have included physical storefronts where people purchase tangible goods. But many now offer products online or over the phone and ship products to consumers.

Retail trade in 2022

The retail industry has changed significantly over the past few decades. Many stores are now online or even completely mobile. The pandemic has taken the industry even further away from an in-person model. However, with the right retail business idea on the right market, any type of storefront can still be successful.

Read more: Retail Stats You Need to Know

Why Should You Consider Starting a Retail Business

If you are looking for a profitable business to start in 2022, the retail sector offers many opportunities. Here are some of the top benefits of starting a retail business:

  • Various opportunities: No matter what interests you, there’s a retail business to match it.
  • Community Involvement: With physical retail, you can create a more vibrant downtown neighborhood and participate in outreach and community events.
  • Simplified business model: Some companies have complicated offers. But a retail store usually only sells products with a slight profit. It is therefore easier to manage the basic planning.
  • Personal interactions: With a physical location, you can interact with customers all day, ideal for extroverts.
  • Low cost option: Some retail business ideas may require significant capital. But there are also online storefronts and micro-businesses that can start for next to nothing.

Profitable Retail Business Ideas

Many small town shops and business ideas don’t require a lot of start-up capital. So there is plenty of room to make profits over time. Here are some retail ideas to consider in 2022.

1. Health food store

A health food store is usually a brick-and-mortar retail store because it can offer new options. However, you can still start this type of business online and ship packaged food.

2. Coffee

Cafes serve local customers with cold drinks and snacks. Create a comfortable environment and additional amenities like free wifi to attract customers.

3. Organic food store

Organic foods are those grown or produced without pesticides or chemicals. Many consumers prefer natural foods for health or environmental reasons.

4. Pet store

With a pet store, you can gift animals, food, and accessories to members of your local community. Many also include additional services like grooming.

5. Food Truck Company

Food trucks are actually retail businesses since they sell food products directly to consumers. It’s also a fairly inexpensive business idea since you don’t need a full storefront.

6. Thrift store

Thrift stores sell second-hand items like furniture, clothing, and home decor items at discounted prices. Many accept donations or operate on consignment, so you can keep your profit margin high.

7. Furniture company

With a furniture business, you can either sell pieces from major manufacturers or produce your own. Inventory may cost more, but parts usually sell for higher prices.

8. Ice Cream Shop

If you have room for a small store, an ice cream shop may be ideal. Just set up a counter with a few flavors and toppings.

9. Subscription Box Service

Subscription boxes include a collection of related items periodically sent directly to subscribers. It has become an increasingly successful business model in recent years.

10. Mobile store

A mobile store can sell almost anything. The store would be hosted on a mobile app or website.

Read more: 3 rules to help your retail business deliver the new products customers demand

11. Candy Store

Candy is inexpensive and easy to sell at a local store or online.

12. Sports shop

Sports stores sell a variety of equipment and clothing for local athletes. You can even offer products online.

13. Dollar Stores

Dollar stores offer a wide range of products for one dollar. Buy cheap products in bulk to maximize your profits.

14. Florist

Florists sell cut flowers, bouquets and personalized arrangements for special events.

15. Beauty salon

Beauty salons are considered retail businesses since they provide services directly to consumers. Many also sell hair and beauty products.

16. Craft beer retailer

Craft beer is gaining popularity in many markets. Stock unique flavors and brands for customers to try.

17. Newsstand

Newsstands are small outdoor businesses that stock newspapers, magazines, and convenience items. Start-up costs are usually low due to the small location and inexpensive inventory.

18. Vaping business

Vape shops are booming in 2022. There is a huge range of flavors and accessories to stock.

19. Fashion Boutique

Fashion boutiques offer clothes and accessories in person or online.

20. Online store

Online stores can sell almost anything. You don’t even have to physically transport inventory if you have an offsite fulfillment service.

Read more: Small business ideas for beginners

21. Local market

Local markets may offer groceries or any item popular in your neighborhood. They are generally known for their friendly and personalized service.

22. Vending Machines

Vending machines are like automated retail businesses. Place them in places frequented by people interested in your products.

23. Gift Shop

Gift shops sell small items that are perfect for gifts. They are especially popular in downtown areas and tourist sites.

24. Bakery

The bakeries offer cakes, pastries and various desserts.

25. Children’s store

A children’s store may offer a variety of toys, clothing and equipment for children and families.

26. Auto parts store

Auto parts are always in demand. Stores may carry a variety or specialize in one item such as tires.

27. Used Bookstore

Used books are pretty cheap. And many consumers love the experience of browsing these stores.

28. Shop for technical accessories

Tech accessories like phone cases and Bluetooth speakers are popular. And many are inexpensive to transport.

29. Art Supply Store

Art supply stores are especially popular in towns and college towns. Many also carry crafts and household items.

30. Medical Equipment Store

Medical device stores are quite recession-proof and help community members in need.

31. Record store

Records are on the rise. Store them by buying lots from individuals or selling real estate.

32. Collectibles Seller

Collectibles like trading cards and coins still sell for decent prices, both in person and online.

33. Craft Vendor

Craft businesses are very popular online. But there are also physical retail stores offering these items.

34. Farmer’s Market Vendor

Farmers and food producers can offer their products directly to local markets.

35. Pharmacy

Pharmacies sell medicinal products and many also offer additional products like cards and cosmetics.

What’s the best low-cost retail business idea to get started?

If you’re trying to save money while starting a retail business, start an online store. You only need a domain, hosting, and inventory, instead of a physical store. You can also cut costs by using marketplace sites or fulfillment and drop shipping services.

What type of retail store is the most profitable?

Retail profits vary widely by industry. Some options with high profit margins include medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, and tech accessories. Online stores also tend to be the most profitable immediately, as start-up costs are low.

How can you open a retail store without money?

Opening an online store is the easiest way to start a cashless retail store. There are many marketplace sites that allow you to list products for next to nothing and pay a small commission when they sell. Start with used items you already own, such as collectibles, and use the profits to buy other inventory.

Image: Envato Elements

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