How to Start a Mexican Grocery Store

Mexican Grocery Store Image

Our guide on starting a mexican grocery store covers all the essential information to help you decide if this business is a good match for you. Learn about the day-to-day activities of a mexican grocery store owner, the typical target market, growth potential, startup costs, legal considerations, and more!

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Start a mexican grocery store by following these 9 steps:

You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your mexican grocery store. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

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 are the initial costs?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How long it will take you to break even?
  • What will you name your business?

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you. Skip on ahead to the Business Overview for more detailed answers to all your questions.

Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.

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STEP 2: Form a legal entity

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your mexican grocery store is sued. Consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account

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.

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.

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.

STEP 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.

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.

STEP 9: Establish your 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.

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

Business Overview

A Mexican grocery store offers customers traditional and authentic Mexican and Hispanic groceries, including vegetables and produce, meats, spices, and canned goods.

Who is this business right for?

If your background includes time spent working for grocery or convenience store, have managerial experience or even extensive retail experience, as well as a shared love for traditional and authentic Mexican flavors, this may be the perfect endeavor.

What happens during a typical day at a mexican grocery store?

Your biggest concern, day to day will be servicing your customers and making sure your shelves stay stocked and prepared for new and existing customers. Interaction with your patrons is quite critical, as you are often an independent store, unable to lean on the strength of a chain store's reputation and advertising. Therefore, you must promote your business through positive word of mouth and store interactions. Additionally, you will need to;

  • Conduct inventories and re-order products
  • Advertise and market through various outlets, both free and paid
  • Create relationships with your distributors and cultivate new contacts for products and supplies
  • Study trends in authentic and new traditional Mexican and Hispanic cuisine

What is the target market?

Primarily, you will be targeting Mexican families and restaurants, while customers who crave authentic culinary recipes may also be a subset of your customer base who will spread the word about your business to seemingly unrelated potential customers, only to see your business branch out in new and profitable directions.

How does a mexican grocery store make money?

Money for your business will be generated through the sales of your products.

What is the growth potential for a mexican grocery store?

Depending on the area in which you are located, you can create a thriving and profitable store, capable of becoming a niche location for customers looking for authentic and traditional Mexican cuisine options. Before deciding to open this type of store, make sure you've researched the location and the prevalence of other similar stores in your area. Since this is a business which could be classified as specialty, you will want to make sure there isn't over-saturation, which will fracture the business you may receive.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful mexican grocery store?

Since this type of business relies heavily on capturing and retaining customer business and loyalty, it is critical that you can communicate clearly and effectively, including the ability to speak related languages. Interact with your customers to keep a pulse of what they want. And, as mentioned previously, experience in retail or grocery stores will be quite beneficial in understanding the supply side of the business. Creating positive relations with your suppliers and distributors will help streamline much of your business, as well as drive down overhead costs. Finally, experience as a restaurateur or chef may also give great insight into the needs or flavors which will be the best draws for customers.

What are the costs involved in opening a mexican grocery store?

Initial costs will mainly be focused on your brick and mortar location, as you have to rent or buy a store location. Following this investment, you will need to earmark a substantial amount of money on renovating, updating, and creating a functioning grocery store floor plan. It may be possible to purchase a grocery store location as a turnkey space, ready for customers in a short amount of time, but be cautious as to why the previous owner is selling the business. From here, you will need;

  • Business and employee insurance
  • Utilities and internet service
  • Commercial trash and recycling services
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Stocking your shelves

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.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a mexican grocery store?

Since your store will be considered a specialty or niche business, you'll need to tap into the local communities which will most likely support your business. Look for opportunities to present your store through Mexican and Hispanic community or cultural events, culinary exhibitions, and other related groups. You should aim your marketing efforts at those in the community who would be most interested in the authentic foods and flavors your business will sell. At the same time, you also want to market to other members of your local community who may be unaware of the existence of your type of business. Look for opportunities locally to introduce a Mexican grocery store to a non-Mexican or Hispanic group who appreciates authentic flavors and products. Farmer's markets and arts and crafts fairs may be worthwhile events to target for advertising or even a booth to present your wares.

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Growing Your Business

How to promote & market a mexican grocery store

Small billboards, local papers, community events and groups, online forums and social media, and business cards and flyers, strategically placed regionally will begin to draw customers in, with secondary growth derived from word of mouth customer reviews and recommendations.

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

How to keep customers coming back

Be personable. Talk to your customers and ask what they would desire in a grocery store. Some products may need to be imported from out of the U.S., but they will add to the authentic nature of your store. Get to know your return customers more personally and give them a sense of community within your local grocery store.

How and when to build a team

From the beginning, you will need at least a few other employees on hand to help with retail sales and customer service, stocking shelves and store maintenance, as well as an accountant or bookkeeper, if you are not willing or able to tackle that job yourself. Keep in mind that the startup and initial 4-6 months of being open will be a critical time to create a foothold for your business. You will need a capable and multi-faceted staff on board to help you manage the multitude of tasks you’ll be handling during this period of time. Choose wisely.

Legal Considerations

Federal Business Licensing Requirements

There are federal regulations regarding what can and cannot be added to, sold as, and processed with food. Attached is a resource from the Food and Drug Administration detailing the process of starting a food business: How to Start a Food Business

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a Mexican grocery store business. 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.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Maintain Personal Asset Protection

Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:

Open a business bank account

  • This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Get a business credit card

  • This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
A smiling man sits at a computer and learns about corporate veils


To learn more about maintaining your LLC's corporate veil, read our guide and protect your personal assets.

Certificate of Occupancy

A Mexican grocery store business 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 Mexican grocery store business.
    • 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 Mexican grocery store business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

Food Regulations

When selling food, you will need licensing from a local health department; all establishments serving food are required to pass a health inspection. Tips for faring well on a health inspections

Earning Potential

How much can you charge customers?

Pricing should be relative to the other specialty stores or "ethnic" sections in larger chain stores. Your pricing should be competitive, yet profitable.

What are the ongoing expenses for a mexican grocery store?

Other than rent or mortgage payments, phone, internet, and utilities, the majority of your ongoing costs will be restocking your shelves. It is advisable to continue to work heavily with a few select distributors or suppliers to help create opportunities for deals on quantity or repeat orders. Many of your product suppliers will be understanding of your specialty status, as they are often in the same position of offering specialty items to a limited customer base. Use your communication and persuasion skills wisely.

How much profit can a mexican grocery store make?

The earnings are varied, depending on the strength of the customer base you attract. Clearing $75,000 annually would be considered a good profit margin, but beware of large chain supermarkets who can cut into your profit via bulk buys and pre-determined supply chains. work to make your store unique.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Many successful Mexican grocery stores find that offering non-perishable, yet traditional Mexican or Hispanic items, such as clothing, music and media, and party/celebration supplies help offset some of the grocery costs. Additionally, many stores are coupled with restaurants, where the same items sold in the store are used in the menu items. This form of on the spot marketing is often very successful in attracting and retaining customers.

Next Steps

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