A new specialty store selling gluten-free products opened in my area and I often walk by thinking to myself, “What the hell are you guys doing?” And I started thinking of some essential some small business necessities.
1. First, you’re probably asking yourself if there’s a market for gluten-free products. It exists but I imagine it’s relatively small. The problem with their concept is they are alienating anybody who is not gluten-free, I (as someone that can eat gluten) have no reason to go into that store to purchase expensive products. Instead of alienating 99% of the market off the bat, try to think of ways to incorporate them. A possible solution is by creating a bakery selling gluten-free products, great smelling food will infect passer-by's, people buy on impulse. If you absolutely need to have a speciality retail store, have products that everybody requires like, spices, Milk, butter, etc..
2. Utilize your vicinity. Being the closest in vicinity to a large residential area with no supermarket for 6 blocks means a small convenience store that sells essentials would probably do much better in business.
3. Create a culture in your store. White Walls reminds me of a doctors office. Put some paintings up, plants, music – do something! Recognize your audience and build a culture around your them. If your audience is solely gluten-free people don’t have white walls. Don’t remind them that every-time they walk into a store they are outsiders, that they cannot purchase regular food like everyone else.
4. Know your business and pay attention to where you place things. You sell food? Do not place the register facing the door, it’s weird. Look at every McDonalds, Subway, gas-station, the registers are close to the door but you need to walk in through the side door where the register isn’t the first thing you see. Otherwise it’s ominous and weird because the first thing people don’t want to think about is the money they are going to spend. I cannot emphasize this enough, it is even more true if you have big glass windows. If your a doctor or dental office it’s a little different because the first thing people want to see is a person – know your business.
5. Take care of details. I do not want to see boxes lying around nor do I want to see inside of your employee room it’s unprofessional, put a curtain up. Simple easy details. People feel appreciated when you take care of details, even if they seem meaningless.
6. Your store name is important. And choosing the wrong name or promoting the wrong thing can alienate people. Calling something eco-friendly and calling it better because it’s eco-friendly will alienate anyone who doesn’t care. But I can tell you one thing, people associate eco-friendly with higher-prices, and sometimes worse quality. So calling your store name **** Gluten Free, makes me and everyone else who doesn’t care about gluten-free not bother to go in. Choose carefully. My point is, your only selling point shouldn’t be because something is eco-friendly or gluten-free.