If you want to start a business where you offer finished products directly to consumers, then retail is definitely the direction you should be looking. There are plenty of different types of retail businesses. But some are more expensive than others to get up and running. Here are 50 low cost retail business ideas that won’t break the bank.
Low Cost Retail Business Ideas
If you want to sell products to consumers without having to invest in an actual storefront, the easiest way to get started is to open up an eCommerce site. There are plenty of low cost options out there, ranging from eBay and Amazon to Shopify and BigCommerce.
For those who want to sell more specific items, you could focus on collectible items like coins and sports memorabilia and sell those items on platforms like eBay.
Mobile Retail Boutique
If you want to have a physical retail business but don’t want to invest in a storefront, you could build a mobile retail business using an old camper or similar vehicle that you can set up at fairs or events as you see fit.
You can also open your own used bookstore, either in a set location or online. Buying used books is a fairly inexpensive prospect as far as inventory is concerned.
Likewise, you can open a store that sells records, old and new. You can even have a system where you buy inventory right from your customers.
Or you could open up a thrift store where you sell a variety of different goods. For this, you will need a physical location. But you can accept item donations to ease the upfront cost.
You can also open a consignment store, which sells secondhand goods as well but offers money back to people who bring in their items.
Or you could focus specifically on selling items that are old enough to be considered antiques. You can salvage items and then sell them at booths in stores or at events.
You could also open up an antique mall where you sell goods out of a retail location and then offer any extra space to other antique dealers.
With a news stand, you can offer newspapers, magazines and a variety of other products out of a cart or small storefront.
You can also open up a stand where you offer produce or other food items in a small setting.
If you’re interested in offering a sweeter variety of food items, you could open up a small bakery or even a mobile bake shop.
Or you could open up a mobile food business like a food truck that you can take to fairs and other events.
You could also simply set up shop at fairs with a stand or booth. In this setting, you can sell various food items or even other retail goods, depending on the specific event.
For those who want a more regular schedule, you could run a coffee cart where you sell coffee and other items in office buildings or areas with a lot of foot traffic.
Similarly, you can start a lunch cart where you sell sandwiches or other pre-made items to people on their lunch breaks.
Canned Goods Seller
You could also make jams and other canned goods in your home and then sell them online or in a small retail space.
Convenience stores are relatively small and carry a lot of inexpensive items. So you can start one in your area without a lot of upfront investment.
Corner Grocery Store
Or you could open up a grocery store with a slightly larger assortment of items, but without taking up a whole lot of space.
You could also find a more specific niche to keep your overhead even lower. For example, you can focus on selling meat items at a small butcher shop.
Health Food Store
Or you can focus specifically on selling organic or healthy food items at a small health foods store.
You can even open up your own juice bar or cart where you sell fresh squeezed juices and smoothies.
Ice Cream Shop
For those with more of a sweet tooth, you could also open up a small ice cream shop.
Or you can go even smaller and sell packaged candy at a small storefront or mobile cart.
If you want to brew your own beer, you can invest in some basic equipment and then open up your own microbrewery.
Farmers Market Vendor
For those who grow or make various food items, you can sell those goods at farmers markets for a low overhead solution.
Pharmacies are fairly small and offer some inexpensive retail goods. So you could open up a small neighborhood pharmacy without a lot of upfront investment.
You could also focus specifically on selling greeting cards and similar goods that are inexpensive and don’t take up a lot of space.
Paper Products Shop
Likewise, you can open up a retail business selling other types of paper products like stationery and journals without a lot of upfront cost.
Printed Products Designer
If you have some design skills, you can have your designs printed on items like t-shirts, mugs and cards. You can order those finished products and then sell them online or in a small retail location.
Gift Basket Service
You can also sell a variety of different products arranged in specialty gift baskets.
Local Gift Shop
Or you can stick with a more straightforward approach and open up a small gift shop in your local community.
If you sell small accessories like handbags and jewelry, you can open up a retail store that’s fairly small and doesn’t have a ton of expensive inventory.
You could also open a shop that’s specifically for wedding related purchases. Since this is something that you can run by appointment, you can keep labor costs down and potentially even get away with a location that’s not as centrally located as other retail businesses might need to be.
Craft Supply Store
Art and craft supplies can be relatively inexpensive and small. So that’s another niche you can potentially build a retail business around.
Gadget Accessory Store
You can also build a retail business around selling tech accessories like phone and tablet cases.
Auto Parts Store
Auto parts aren’t necessarily inexpensive to stock. But you can save money in other areas like your actual location.
You can also open up a retail store that focuses on selling things like scrubs and work uniforms, which are fairly inexpensive to stock.
Or you can open up a print shop where you sell custom signs and other printed goods from a small storefront.
Kids products like clothing and toys are relatively inexpensive and don’t take up much space. So you can open up a specialty kids store without a ton of cost.
Pet Supply Store
Similarly, you can open up a small store that sells pet food, toys and other items specifically for dogs, cats and other animals.
Or you can open up a beauty shop where you sell makeup, hair products and other beauty related items.
You can also open up a floral shop where you put together flower arrangements and sell those finished products to consumers.
eCommerce Drop-Off Store
If you want to sell product online but don’t have a lot of inventory to start, you can set up a storefront where you collect items to sell on consignment.
You can also open up a retail kiosk to sell small items directly to consumers. You can set up kiosks in shopping centers or other places with lots of foot traffic and stock those kiosks with small products.
Or you can focus on vending machines that dispense small snacks or similar items.
If you only want to sell items on occasion, you can sell goods at pop-up shops so you don’t have to invest in a dedicated retail space.
Flea Market Vendor
Or you can sell various types of items at flea markets or similar events instead of investing in a storefront.
Subscription Box Service
Subscription boxes offer a unique way to deliver products that has become increasingly popular in recent years. You can choose a specific niche and then set up a subscription system that allows you to sell products without a lot of overhead.
Related reading: 51 Business Ideas for 2020