Business Overview

Kitchen supplies stores sell cooking-related items like silverware, dishes, and cookware to everyday people, restaurant owners, culinary institutes, and others.

Who is this business right for?

This business is ideal for people who have a passion for food and cooking. If you have worked in a restaurant, are an excellent cook, or simply desire to be involved in a food-related business, opening a kitchen supplies store is an excellent idea. After all, people will always need to eat, and the vast majority of food requires preparation of some sort. Kitchen supplies are necessary for that preparation.

What happens during a typical day at a kitchen supplies store?

A kitchen supplies store owner handles a wide range of activities. He manages inventory, decides on marketing strategies, delegates work to employees, stays abreast of cutting edge cooking trends, researches new kitchen supplies, and establishes relationships with product suppliers.

What is the target market?

The ideal customer is a manager or owner of a restaurant who is willing to spend a significant amount of money on kitchen supplies. Another ideal customer type is an individual who makes the purchasing decisions for a local culinary institute. Such a person is inclined to regularly spend large sums of money on kitchen supplies for the institute's cooking classes. It will also help to recruit cafeteria managers from local schools and medical facilities. These individuals are also in position to spend a significant amount of money.

How does a kitchen supplies store make money?

This business makes money by selling kitchen supplies to everyday people, restaurants, culinary institutes, and other institutions like hospitals and schools that have cafeterias.

What is the growth potential for a kitchen supplies store?

This type of business has serious growth potential. The bottom line is that people and institutions will always require cookware, utensils, dishes, and other items that relate to the cooking process. Locate your kitchen supplies store in the right area and establish relationships with those who regularly buy large amounts of kitchen supplies, and your business can rapidly expand. It is possible to open up a second location within a year or two. You can eventually expand to multiple locations across your region and the country.

Getting Started

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful kitchen supplies store?

A kitchen supplies store owner who stays up to date on the latest cooking trends will have a leg up on the competition. Never stop learning about cooking methods and cooking equipment. Be personable. Establish relationships with those who make purchasing decisions at local institutions where food is served. It will also help to have marketing prowess so you can advertise your kitchen supplies store in a highly effective manner.

What are the costs involved in opening a kitchen supplies store?

The business requires a store, inventory, insurance, employees, a computer, high-speed internet, a point of sale system, cash registers, and marketing. In terms of inventory, it is advisable to stock everything commonly used in a kitchen from silverware to pots, pans, slow cookers, spatulas, soup ladles, microwaves, convection ovens, plates, bowls, cups, mugs, and beyond.

What are the steps to start a kitchen supplies store?

Once you're ready to start your kitchen supplies store, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:

  1. Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
  2. Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your kitchen supplies store is sued.
  3. Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
  4. Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your kitchen supplies store keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
  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.
  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.
  7. Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
  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.
  9. Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Where can I 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.

Recommended: offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for for free.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a kitchen supplies store?

You can jump start your kitchen supplies store business by establishing relationships with those who are in need of your products. These individuals include managers and owners of restaurants, culinary institutes, hospitals, schools, colleges etc. It will also help to establish a strength in one particular cooking category such as gourmet cooking, confectionery supplies, or baking. If you establish a reputation as the go-to source for such specific cooking supplies, you will enjoy consistent business from those who need such cookware.

Growing Your Business

How to promote & market a kitchen supplies store

Promotion of the business starts with pressing the flesh. Network with those who make purchasing decisions for their cafeteria, restaurant or other institution that needs kitchen supplies to prepare food. Connect with everyday people through all different forms of marketing. Advertise in local papers, on local radio, local TV, etc. Post flyers, put up billboard ads, and purchase some online ads. Explore all of these marketing avenues and you will reach a wide variety of people in your community.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

Establish a website and add search engine-optimized content at least several times per month. A steady supply of keyword-laden content will help those who need kitchen supplies find your business when conducting online searches. Attend conferences and other networking events related to food and cooking. These get-togethers are your chance to connect with restaurant owners and managers of other institutions that require large amounts of cooking supplies.

How and when to build a team

Begin building your team right away. You can't operate an entire kitchen supplies store on your own. Add employees to man the cash registers, stock the shelves, order new inventory, and assist customers. You will eventually have to add a store manager, a marketing expert, and an accountant as the business grows.

Legal Considerations

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a kitchen 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, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Certificate of Occupancy

A kitchen store is generally run out of a 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 location:
    • 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 kitchen 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 location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your kitchen store will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

Reduce Personal Liability

Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC) ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.

What is an LLC?

Form an LLC in 5 easy steps

Earning Potential

How much can you charge customers?

You can charge a wide array of prices for various kitchen supplies. As an example, a spatula will cost as little as a couple dollars while a slow cooker will retail for around $50 and a fondue maker will cost upwards of $100.

What are the ongoing expenses for a kitchen supplies store?

Ongoing expenses include the cost of the facility's rent or mortgage payment, wages/salaries, inventory expenses, facility maintenance, insurance, utilities, high-speed internet, and advertising. A kitchen supplies store manager will earn about $30,000 to $50,000 per year. Low-level clerks, cashiers, shelf-stockers and customer service representatives will earn between $8 and $12 per hour. Plan on spending at least $500 to $1,000 per year on facility maintenance. Inventory is an ongoing cost that fluctuates according to the amount of product you sell. Plan on spending about $500 to a couple thousand dollars per month on new inventory. If you decide to rent the building in which you sell kitchen supplies, budget in at least $700 to $1,500 for rent. Utilities including high-speed internet will cost between $150 and $300 per month. Marketing costs hinge on the level of exposure you desire for your kitchen supplies store. Budget at least $200 per month at a bare minimum for marketing. If you are intent on getting the business's name out there, plan to spend upwards of $500 per month or more on marketing.

How much profit can a kitchen supplies store make?

This type of store can make anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 or more in the first year. Develop the business, reduce costs, and establish a niche, and profits can reach six figures in a couple years. Expand the business across your town, region, and the nation and the business has the potential to make millions of dollars in profit.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Consider selling items related to cooking such as dining room furniture, cabinets, kitchen islands and so on. You can also sell cookbooks and cooking show DVDs to those who are interested in learning how to cook new dishes and with new methods. You can maximize profit by selling tickets to cooking lessons held on-site. However, this will require hiring a cooking instructor. It is also possible to build a website to sell kitchen supplies to locals as well as those across the nation. If you are willing to invest in a delivery system to transport the items sold on your website, this addition to your business makes plenty of sense.

Next Steps

Get more ideas with our Business Ideas Tool.

Check out our How to Start a Business page.

Sign up at the Business Center to access useful tools for your business.

Related Business Ideas