What is an Independent Store?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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Independent stores are businesses that operate with a single retail outlet, or are structured as a small chain with no more than three locations. Generally, stores of this type are individually owned, owned by a family, or owned by two partners. Stores of this type are found in just about every city and town around the world, and are usually owned by people who live in the community.

There are a number of benefits to owning an independent store. One has to do with the management of the business. Many operations of this type do not require several levels of management or officers in order to function. As a result, it is often possible to make decisions regarding merchandise, hours of operation, sales, and other essential tasks without requiring a great deal of discussion. Even issues such as discontinuing the sale of certain products while introducing new goods or services can be dealt with in a shorter period of time.

Customers sometimes find that shopping at an independent store is different from shopping at a large chain store. Since an independent department store is usually owned and operated by people living in the area, customers are more likely to be greeted by name, and may feel welcome and appreciated. Individually owned stores are often more open to placing special orders for customers who need something that is not carried in the usual stock, a benefit that only adds to the personable approach.


While many customers appreciate the personable reception they receive when shopping at an independent store, the range of merchandise may be considerably less than what is found in larger retail store chains. In addition, the prices for the goods that are on display may be higher than the prices charged by the large discount retailer down the street. For customers who are on tight budgets, shopping at the larger store makes it possible to buy more with the same amount of money, a fact that many large chains promote in their advertising.

Operating an independent store can also have its drawbacks. One has to do with the ability to secure goods and services for sale at rates that allow the owner to make an equitable amount of profit. Often, it is not possible to order large volumes of goods, a fact that prevents the independent store owner fromenjoying the same discounts provided to larger businesses that can order in bulk. In recent years, the owners of some individually owned businesses have begun to gather in associations or cooperatives, pooling their purchasing power. By securing discounts from vendors based on their cumulative orders, the stores are able to offer pricing that is similar to that of the larger chains, and thus compete more effectively in the marketplace.


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Old City Philadelphia -- independent by design!

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