How to Operate a Country General Store

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general store old el paso image by Lars Koch from

General stores located in rural areas are often the only things around for miles that offer supplies to the locals who live in the area or travelers who are visiting the area or just passing through. This can be lucrative, life-long profession if the general store is set up and managed correctly. This way the regular customers will come back like clockwork and the seasonal customers will have the store recommended to them when they are in the area.

Install gas pumps and set up a relationship with a gasoline distributor whose tankers can deliver gas to you weekly. This will create a constant stream of revenue, for both locals and travelers alike and keep the general store financially afloat in the leaner times.

Set up Internet and wireless Internet at the general store. As this is a rural area, Internet may be hard to come by, but since you are a commercial location, telecommunications companies are much more likely to serve you with this service, rather then run it out to each home in the surrounding country. With wireless Internet access, it will draw in customers to sit in the general store and purchase Internet service, buy coffee or other items, generating more profit for the general store.

Keep exact inventory and a large selection of different items that can be stocked. While it may not make financial sense to have a produce section in the general store, post signs around the store about specific days when you will be stocking produce, so that every local knows you will be selling produce on those particular few days and they will not have to drive to the nearest town to purchase vegetables and fruits at a supermarket.

Carry beer, wine, liquor and cigarettes. All these items can be marked up and make the general store a lot of money, as locals and vacationers in the area will undoubtedly buy these products. Make sure your employees always ask to see identification of people they believe to be too young to legally drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, so that the general store is not ticketed.

Keep the general store as clean as possible. Nothing turns off customers who are buying food in a specific place like a dirty environment.


  • Have a set restocking schedule, so that suppliers only have to drive out to the country general store once every few weeks. Try to have as many of these suppliers come in one or two days as possible, so you can have more time to run the store.

    Sell comfortable t-shirts advertising the country general store, with the name of the local area. These will be a cheap product that you can make yourself and sell for a large profit, as travelers may buy them just to say they have been to your particular area.

    Build your own website and hand out free business cards to all customers who buy something.


  • Make sure you have all the proper permits to sell certain foods like produce and meat, as well as cigarettes, beer and liquor. Depending on which state and county the country general store resides within, these permits will vary greatly in price.