How to Start a Spice Store

Sep 21, 2020
9 minute read

As food trends come and go, and our palates continue to evolve, our love for spices remains constant. From home cooks to high-end chefs, spices are a pantry staple, and demand for quality spices continues to grow. With revenue of $16 billion in 2019, the spice industry is a great option for entrepreneurs looking to open their own store, especially if you have a passion for the colours, flavours, and varieties found in the spice world.

Ready to dive into this major industry and start your own spice store? Breaking into the millennium-old spice trade, with vendors from all over the globe, can be a little intimidating, especially as a new entrepreneur. From sourcing spices to branding and marketing your business, we’ve compiled all the resources you need to ensure your store is a success.

Why start a spice store?

Starting a spice store is appealing to budding entrepreneurs because it can be done as a part-time gig at first, working out of your home or living space. A spice store is also not a big financial investment upfront, and your business can grow exponentially as your revenue increases. The potential for success as a spice store owner is high, as it is a business that does not require a lot of overhead and can grow steadily as you build trust with your customers.

Owning a spice store is also a great way to flex your people skills, as you will often be meeting with different vendors and building relationships with them to source your product. You’ll learn about different cultures and food practices as you dive right into the varied world of spices. Your job will also rarely be boring or hum-drum, a major draw for entrepreneurs who are seeking an interesting, unique career.

What skills do you need to start a spice store?

Owning a spice store in Canada requires a varied skill set. As an entrepreneur, you need to have skills like adaptability, creativity, and innovative thinking to succeed, no matter what industry you work in. As a spice store owner, these skills will come in especially handy as you build and grow your business. 

In addition to these skills, you will also need to be a good communicator and good at building relationships. In the spice world, relationships with your suppliers, vendors, and customers are incredibly important. You will need to grow, maintain, and cultivate these relationships regularly to stay in business and thrive.

Another key skill is having a passion for spices and for learning more about their history and properties. Maybe you love using specific spices in your cooking, or you grew up eating certain spices at home. Or perhaps you like the smell and taste of rare spices. Having a passion for your product will show customers you take your business seriously. 

With so many spices out there, it’s also important that you take some time to research the spices you plan to sell so you can answer customer questions or queries. It will also help you source the best spices and determine what will sell best in the market. Researching specific spices online and asking other spice sellers about the market will help you stay current and informed as a business owner.

Setting up your spice store

When it comes to setting up your spice store, you have two options: striking out on your own as an independent owner or buying into a franchise in your area. Depending on which route you choose, you will have to then determine how you will select, source, and market your spices.

Be an independent owner for flexibility 

If you’re ready to jump into small business ownership, going independent and opening a spice store on your own may be the way to go. Owning your own business means you get to control everything, from branding and packaging to spice selection. When a customer buys your product, they’re investing in your business and your vision. Many entrepreneurs find this level of control and ownership exciting.

As an independent owner, you can also work out of your home and sell products online to start. This allows you to build your business around your schedule and your lifestyle, giving you more flexibility and time to grow as an entrepreneur.

However, being an independent owner also means you are responsible for every aspect of your business and will need to be committed to wearing many hats, from purchaser to marketer to financial administrator. You may decide to hire other people to help you manage these details down the road, but during the early days of your business, you’ll need to be at the helm. 

Starting as an independent owner also means you will need to have start-up funds set aside to help you stay afloat during the first one to three years of operation. Depending on the scale of your business, you may need to have $5,000-$10,000 CAD set aside to ensure you have enough funds to get your business off the ground.

Choose a franchise for stability and security

Buying into a spice franchise, which is a business owned by someone else, might be a better option for you if you’d prefer not to have to create something from the ground up and are craving a stable entryway into entrepreneurship. When you buy into a franchise, you are also buying into the business’ existing reputation and success with customers. Maybe there’s a spice franchise in your area that is doing well, and you feel it would be a sound investment to buy-in. This could be a good way to go into business for yourself without the risks of being an independent business owner.

However, buying into a franchise can be pricey, ranging from $40,000 to $100,000, depending on the franchiser. You will also still need to invest money into buying a location and pay royalties to the franchiser on all spices sold at your location. The amount of