How to Start a Health Food Store
Health food stores offer a selection of nutritional supplements, vitamins/minerals, homeopathic products, healthy snacks, and organic and non-GMO fresh fruits and vegetables.
Learn how to start your own Health Food Store and whether it is the right fit for you.
Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.
Start a health food store by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Health Food Store
- Form your Health Food Store into a Legal Entity
- Register your Health Food Store for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Health Food Store
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Health Food Store
- Get Health Food Store Insurance
- Define your Health Food Store Brand
- Create your Health Food Store Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your health food store. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Health Food Store Name Generator
If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
What are the costs involved in opening a health food store?
These costs will depend on the geographic location, size of the store, buildout costs if required, the number of employees, equipment and services. Some costs to consider are:
- Cash registers
- Storefront lease
- Shelves, including refrigerated and freezing shelves
What are the ongoing expenses for a health food store?
General expenses include rent, utilities, indoor/outdoor signage, cash registers, and supplies to stock tasting centers and fresh juice bars. Additional ongoing expenses include insurance, employee salaries/benefits, a maintenance crew, accounting and legal services, shopping carts, computers, printers, tech support, software, security, janitorial supplies, and paper goods.
Who is the target market?
The preferred client/customer types are individuals interested in health (such as bodybuilders, weight lifters, athletes, and sports coaches) or who have special dietary needs (such as weight loss, diabetes, and food allergies).
How does a health food store make money?
In addition to creating an attractive and friendly atmosphere with top quality products, store location with high foot traffic and convenient or free parking is important in attracting customers. Sales increase when the staff caters to consumers who are looking for a rewarding shopping experience that supports their healthy lifestyle. Consider including a complimentary newspaper featuring educational materials about vitamins/minerals, food plans, discount coupons, and recipes in the store. Boost sales with video displays, interactive media, kiosks, and food sampling programs.
How much can you charge customers?
Most health stores keep their prices slightly above the average grocery store due to their more local sourcing and organic ingredients. Look at competitors to make sure your pricing is not too low or too high.
How much profit can a health food store make?
Health food stores earn a profit based on revenue generated, minus all overhead and labor costs. Averages vary depending upon geographical location and your specific business model.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Here are some additional strategies you can employ:
- Offer seasonal foods for various holidays
- Partner with local produce growers to increase your presence in the community
- Start a juice bar, salad bar, or hot food bar inside your store for hungry customers to grab a quick meal
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your health food store is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a health food store. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Certificate of Occupancy
A health food store is generally run out of a large storefront. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a storefront:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a health food store.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a storefront:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for you business’ location to ensure your health food store will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
FInd out what types of insurance your Health Food Store needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Health Food Store.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a health food store
A professional website is a necessity, and some health store owners add an attached blog. A number of hosting companies offer a package that includes the site, blog, hosting, and a website name, known as a domain. Sending out a newsletter or handing out flyers can also be a good idea. Flyers can be put up in other businesses such as gyms or juice bars that serve a similar demographic.
How to keep customers coming back
Social media gives customers a great way to interact with and review your business. Develop a customer loyalty and rewards program to help promote business. Frequent specials such as buy one, get one free, or at half price help to deliver sales and repeat business.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.
Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
This question should be carefully examined prior to becoming involved in the industry as a store owner. A health food shop can be perfect for someone with firm beliefs in developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and helping others do the same. For an entrepreneurial individual who is willing to take risks if needed, the retail health food industry can be ideal. It's important for the owner or owners and the employees to be committed to a customer centric atmosphere. In many instances, owners and managers form very personal relationships with customers in need of recommendations for health issues that were unsuccessfully treated with traditional medicine for months.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a health food store?
Your daily duties will vary depending on whether you have a partner, and the number of employees you plan to hire and supervise. Whether you plan to manage the store, or hire experienced managers. The time commitment in the health food retail industry is extensive since most stores in large and medium-sized cities are open late seven days a week. Inventory turnover with variable expiration dates takes place eight or nine times a year. As a result, small business inventory management takes on a new perspective with an inventory tracking system that is consistently followed. Another option is using a POS solution that automatically tracks and orders inventory.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful health food store?
The following skills will serve you well:
- Excellent business, communication and customer service skills
- Existing industry knowledge, product training, and a solid business plan
- The ability to recruit and hire experienced store managers and contract with a marketing professional or agency.
What is the growth potential for a health food store?
The global dietary supplements market is expected to reach $278 billion by 2024. The importance of the medical nutrition market is growing due to the increased need for the treatment of malnutrition and cardiovascular disorders and the need for dietary supplements. Sports nutrition sales in the U.S. are growing due to the increasing prevalence of fitness and sports at a domestic level and new product launches.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a health food store?
There are several approaches you can take to becoming a health food store owner. Purchasing an existing business that is up for sale is one approach, or you can start your own business. Franchise startups offer opportunities for ambitious entrepreneurs. Franchises also tend to perform better than independent startups regardless of industry since franchises don't have many of the risks typically associated with a business startup.
How and when to build a team
You will need a team when opening this business to manage cash registers, inventory restocking, etc. As your store grows, consider hiring more staff to relieve you of managerial responsibilities.
Read our health food store hiring guide to learn about the different roles a health food store typically fills, how much to budget for employee salaries, and how to build your team exactly how you want it.