Opening your own shop

As a start-up shopkeeper, you need to think about many things. For example, where to open your shop, suppliers, the right papers, and personnel. In this article, you can read about the things you need to consider when opening your own shop.

Figures show that the number of shops is declining. This is partly due to the rise of online shopping. But turnover is rising. As a retailer with a bricks-and-mortar store, you may have to spend about 10% of your turnover on rental costs, but the costs of returns for webshops are often much higher. 

Number of physical shops in the Netherlands on 1 January 2020-2024


(Source: KVK Business register)

Research by KVK shows that the type of shops customers like to visit has changed over the past 10 years. In 2013 people visited the high street looking for  for new clothes, shoes, and toys. Today shops offering good food and everything you need for cooking at home are popular. Think delicatessens, Asian product suppliers, and specialty stores in cheese, coffee, or tea.

Finding the right location

The location of your shop is essential for its success. It should be easily accessible and the look of the premises should match the experience your customers are looking for, Through business brokers, your municipality's business desk, or local shopping district managers, you can get addresses of vacant or soon-to-be vacant properties. Familiarise yourself with the contracts and regulations for renting commercial property so you know what your rights and obligations are. 

Research the area where you want to start. To help startups create their business plan, KVK teamed up with CBS to develop the Location scan (in Dutch). This tool provides information about your target audience and competition at the municipality and neighbourhood levels. Want to quickly and easily count businesses in a particular industry in any given area? Check out the KVK Company Counter.

Taking over an existing shop

People who take over a company are more likely to be successful than someone who starts from scratch. The business already has turnover, customers, brand awareness, and a reputation. Other benefits of business acquisition include:

  • Existing companies will often find it easier to obtain financing than startups.
  • Experienced sales associates can teach you the tricks of the trade.
  • Existing businesses will usually have taken care of most practicalities already. For example, permits, fully compliant buildings, and existing contracts.

Found a business to take over? Contact the KVK Advice team and discuss the steps to take: 088 585 2222.

Become a franchisee

You can also join a successful franchise formula. As a franchisee, you benefit from the franchisor's name recognition and can buy your products cheaper. But you sometimes have little freedom because you have to abide by the rules of the franchise formula. In addition, you have to pay part of what you earn to the franchisor. Weigh the pros and cons before you decide

Laws and regulations

When opening a shop, you will have to deal with laws and regulations including:

  • The rules and regulations of the Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit (Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, NVWA). The products you sell must meet NVWA requirements. These include packaging and the information you must provide.
  • The Winkeltijdenwet (Shopping Hours Act). Municipalities decide whether shops are allowed to be open on Sundays and public holidays. This goes for New Year's Day, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Whit Monday, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.
  • Precario tax. You may not just hang an advertising sign on your facade or put it on the sidewalk.
  • GDPR privacy legislation if, for example, you want to start keeping a customer database for a newsletter or loyalty card.
  • Rules for online sales if you start a webshop in addition to your store. 
  • A music license if you play music in your shop. 

Finding suppliers

You buy the products for your shop from a wholesaler or factory. You want to find reliable suppliers who keeps their promises and deliver on time. You can find suppliers on online platforms and websites such as Europages and Kompass. You can also visit trade fairs and make contact with wholesalers, importers, and manufacturers. But how do you know if a supplier is reliable? Contact existing customers and ask about their experiences. Visit the supplier yourself so you know who you are doing business with. Record your agreements with suppliers in a contract.

Help and staff

Keeping a shop running by yourself is almost impossible. After all, you will be open between 50 and 60 hours a week. You also have to do your administration, buy products, keep up with social media, and keep the shop clean and tidy. Sometimes you can call on your partner or other family members for help. There are several ways you can arrange doing that

Do you want to hire staff? Then you have to deal with rules. It can be difficult to find good people. According to sector organisation InRetail, nearly 60% of retailers currently have trouble finding staff (in Dutch).   Check out these tips on recruiting staff

Register with KVK

Normally you must register with KVK one week before or after your shop opens. Is your shop not yet officially open but you are already applying for permits, remodelling a building, purchasing goods, or signing a lease or financing agreement? Then you will usually need a KVK number. Fortunately, this is not a problem, as you can register with the Chamber of Commerce in advance.

General information for starters

As well as the topics described above, as a start-up retailer you will also have to deal with: