Buying a small shop - pitfalls?

This is a bit of an odd question I think but you are all quite good with odd :smiley: Also, I wasn’t sure what category to put it in so please would one of the team move it if necessary?

My partner has a (very) small house in the middle of the local town. He uses it as a combined office/bolthole. Backing onto it is an even smaller property on the street which was rented by a local coiffeur, who has now given up his business and his landlord (who doesn’t live locally and wants to get rid of the property) has asked if we would like to buy it.

There are 2 reasons we are considering this. The business that we once had and hoped to continue in a different form is no longer viable so my partner (being younger than me) is considering what to do in terms of work. The second reason is that, even if we let it to a local business, we would have some say in what it was used for and, as it affects the house, that would be good. (We have had experience in the UK of acquiring business neighbours who were rock band producers and recorded in the middle of the night)

So I have several questions and there may be more. Does anyone have any general comments about the situation? Even if it looked viable financially, we couldn’t take up hairdressing so are there usually any change-of-use regulations? Partner is currently a micro/auto entrepreneur for his previous occupation but is intending closing that - can he switch it? Talking to people generally, the feeling is that it is the perfect spot, next to an historic bridge, for something selling tourist stuff (It is a popular tourist venue)

If you think we’re mad, feel free to say but then I don’t think I need to tell you that…

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Super cool and might be great fun. Go for it, towns need shops :relaxed:

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Thank you @vero - we thought it might be fun too although we know ***-all about retail :smiley:

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I know diddly - but I cross my fingers for you and no doubt someone who actually knows stuff eg @Andrew_Hearne will be along to advise :relaxed:

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I didn’t want to get too excited but life has dealt us rather a lot of crap stuff in the past few years - in common with a lot of others, I now - and a completely different challenge could be great! We are learning, slowly, to grab our chances as they come…

What are you planning to do? How many empty shops are there in town? How many empty shops are there likely to be as and when we get out of this covid situation? As an autoentrepreneur things are super simple (I was one of the first regitered back in 2009 when the scheme started) once you go into the main-stream system (which I had to in 2012 when I became a commerçant/buraliste) things are a little more complicated. For a start you’ll have your forfait for charges sociales which are around 5000€ a year regardless of if you make any money or not. Change of use shouldn’t be too much of a problem, if at all, depends on what it’s registered for at the moment, pop into the mairie and ask. Do your research (tourist office) to get an idea of the possible footfall in the shop if it’s going to be tourist related. Sit down and pencil out a rough business plan to give yourselves an idea if it’s going to be viable or not. CFE, Taxe foncière, electricity, heating and charges sociales will mean you’ll have to sell a lot of bits and bobs to pay for the shop and get a salary out of it. I’m not saying it’s a non starter but’as I think you already realise, you need to do your homework. Pop into your nearest CCI for advice, that’s what they’re there for. :wink:

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Any chance Angela could be a “branch” office for you Andrew? After all, I’m sure Carrefour started with only one outlet :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks Andrew - that’s very helpful!
It was previously a barber’s with very few customers but it stopped because the chap became ill.

Your question about empty shops is a good one. There are several, all a lot bigger than this one, but the mairie is pushing the town as a place for crafts and arties. As you say, we really need to talk to the people at the mairie. I’m puzzled about the “mainstream” requirement as the owner of the local shop/pottery said she was an autopreneur (at least I think she did - I may have got it wrong). They live above the shop - would that alter things?
They are lovely at the mairie so that should help. We’ve never braved the CCI so that’s a challenge.
Thank you so much @Andrew_Hearne

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I think it is well worth looking into, as you say even just to have control if you ended up renting it out. As far as setting up a business - could be very exciting, particularly if the mairie is trying to encourage things, you may find there are grants and all sorts. My friend and I are hoping to start up a little cafe / tea room but also include things like furniture that can be bought (upcycled), probably a few gifts / local artisans products etc too. We hope to provide an alternative to the only eating place for locals at lunch, decent coffees and obviously somewhere else for the tourists as well.

oh and meant to say as a simple business he should be able to run it as a ME which as Andrew said is very simple. If you’ve managed to buy it outright / not much loan then you’ll be in the position of not having any / much rent to pay (which will be the case for my friend - she has bought the apartments and shop outright). I imagine this could make a huge difference to a small business.

Thank you @toryroo - very encouraging! He has already braved the vicissitudes of being an ME during a period where the responsible body changed at least once and the healthcare bit changed twice so is comfy with it all (ish - he doesn’t like dealing with money!)

Your cafe/tearoom idea sounds good. This place is too small to do anything other than sell things in it. I never saw more than one customer at a time in it when it was functioning as a barber’s! There is a tearoom locally run by Brits called “Oh Happy Thé” (couldn’t be anything other than Brits with a name like that I don’t think) and it is massively popular - always packed (although not at the moment obviously,…)

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There are also many artisans looking for selling outlets… potters, wood turners, felters etc etc. And if you can source things that would appeal to year round residents rather than just tourists it would extend your season… We have a local shop a bit like that and slightly blingy cushion covers, glasses holders and other artisan deco things appeal as gifts to local people.

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Sorry, of course you could run as an auto entrepreneur (apart from certain types of shop, I can’t for example) and that would get you started with lower setup and running costs whilst things build up. The plafonds have been raised enourmously since I was an AE so no problems there either although if things go well it’d make sense to transfer to a normal set-up so you can put far more things against the business. Again, the best place to go into all this is your local CCI as they’re far more up to date then I am. My knowledge is very specific (tabac, fdj etc.) but I’ll happily throw in ideas :wink:

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Thank you @Andrew_Hearne Andrew! I realise from my partner’s experience that there is very little (if anything?) you can set against the business as an autoentrepreneur. It would be great if it actually worked :smiley:

We’ll report back if we go ahead with this (it’s very early days) and of course all ideas are extremely welcome…

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Good idea Jane, thank you. Out of season it’s much quieter but during any holidays, even the winter, there are quite a few tourists but there are also months where the only tourists are parties of schoolkids. Still, I suppose even they will want something to take home…

That is the whole point of it, simplified accounting, they take into account that people have outgoings so include it in the calculations as to what charges you pay.

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Makes sense @toryroo . I’ve kept out of business stuff since we’ve been here full time. The one in the UK was not a great experience, but I have a feeling I’ll get roped into this one :smiley:

If you look on it as an adventure and a bit of fun then it should be possible to stay below the thresholds for losing the AE status and even though you won’t make a fortune it should bring something in. The important thing is to enjoy it and if the income is a bonus then you have no problems.

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Thank you for the encouragement @Russellgww That is more or less how we are now thinking about it! We could definitely do with a supplementary income but we won’t starve without it and if it’s fun, that would be great. Our very longstanding business in the UK cost us a lot if money and certainly was not fun so it could be quite therapeutic :smiley:

Running a company/business in France is NOT therapeutic! :crazy_face::crazy_face::crazy_face:

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