Rural businesses typically provide value and economic strength to the community and generate income for the owner. If you live in a rural area, then ...
49 Small Town Business Ideas
Written by: Esther Strauss
Esther is a business strategist with over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive, educator, and management advisor.
Edited by: David Lepeska
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Published on June 30, 2022
Updated on October 2, 2023
You might think you can’t do business in a small town. But did you know that some major corporations are based in small towns? Walmart is in Bentonville, Arkansas. MasterCard and PepsiCo are in Purchase, New York, while Dick’s Sporting Goods is in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania.
If you live in an area with a small population, you can still attain entrepreneurial success. Why not consider starting a quaint coffee shop, a general merchandise store, or a bakery? Check out our list of small town business ideas below.
1. Coffee Shop
A coffee shop in a small town caters to the daily needs of the community, offering them a cozy place to relax, socialize, or even work. In small towns, businesses are often woven into the fabric of the community, and a coffee shop can become a central meeting point, strengthening community ties. It’s also an opportunity to provide a more personalized, warm service that large chains can’t match.
2. Retail Store
A retail store can truly embed itself in the community, understanding and catering to specific local needs and preferences. A retail store can foster a more intimate shopping experience with personalized customer service, strengthening customer loyalty.
Small town residents often show high support for local businesses, aiding the success and longevity of the venture.
3. Clothing Boutique
Launching a clothing boutique in a small town could be a profitable endeavor. As a hub for fashion, it can introduce unique, high-quality, and fashionable clothing that may not be readily available in the locality. This gives residents an opportunity to explore diverse styles without needing to travel to larger cities or shop online. With the intimate atmosphere typical of small towns, boutique owners can establish close relationships with their customers.
4. Food Truck
Operating a food truck in a small town presents unique opportunities for success. It provides an innovative way to deliver diverse, delicious food options to the locals, with the ability to frequently change menus based on seasonality and customer preferences.
Because it’s mobile, a food truck can travel to various community events, sports games, and popular locations, reaching a wider audience.
It also adds a sense of novelty and excitement to the local food scene, which can attract a loyal following.
In a small town, a handyman service is a practical business idea due to the continuous demand for home repair and maintenance tasks. Residents often need assistance with projects such as plumbing, carpentry, or electrical work, and a local handyman service can provide a reliable, convenient solution.
Because of the close-knit nature of small communities, a handyman can build strong relationships with customers, leading to repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals.
A bakery can be a delightful addition to any small town. Providing fresh bread, pastries, cakes, and other baked goods can cater to everyday needs and special occasions alike, ensuring a steady stream of customers.
A bakery can also become a community gathering place, offering locals a comforting space to connect over food. With lower operational costs compared to big cities, small towns provide an inviting environment to establish such a venture.
7. Hair Salon
Operating a hair salon is a viable small town business idea due to the consistent demand for personal grooming and hair care services. Whether it’s a simple haircut, hair coloring, or a special occasion styling, these needs persist regardless of a town’s size.
In a small community, a salon can create a reputation for personalized, high-quality service, which can foster a loyal customer base.
8. Grocery Store
In a small town, a grocery store serves as an essential business, supplying residents with necessary food and household items. It reduces the need for long-distance travel to access these goods, bringing convenience to the community.
By understanding the specific needs and preferences of the local population, a small grocery store can provide a tailored shopping experience that larger chains might not be able to offer.
9. Floral Business
A floral business is a great idea for a small town due to the variety of services it can provide. These include supplying flowers for events like weddings, funerals, and celebrations, as well as offering bouquets for holidays and everyday occasions. The business can become a local favorite, delivering beauty, joy, and comfort through their products.
10. Estate Sale
Starting an estate sale business in a small town can be both practical and profitable. Such a business caters to people needing to dispose of a household’s worth of goods due to downsizing, moving, or managing an inherited property.
The business can find success in a small town as it helps residents navigate these often overwhelming situations while finding new homes for the items. This type of service becomes an integral part of the community, providing a valuable resource for those in transition.
A gardening business is a promising small town venture. It can offer a range of services like landscaping, maintenance, planting, and even consultancy for those wanting to set up their own home gardens. In small towns, residents often have more outdoor space and may value assistance in creating beautiful, functional garden spaces.
A local gardening business can build strong relationships, understand the unique climatic conditions, and cater to specific plant preferences of the community. This green business can contribute to enhancing the local environment and quality of life in the town.
12. Car Wash
Operating a car wash in a small town is a profitable business idea given the regular need for vehicle maintenance among residents. As one of the essential care tasks, car washing can not be outsourced or done online, providing a steady stream of customers. A car wash can become a valuable and well-used service in the community.
Starting a photography business in a small town can be a profitable and fulfilling endeavor. Offering services for events such as weddings, family portraits, school photos, or local sports can ensure a steady demand. Small towns often provide unique, picturesque settings that can add charm to the photographs.
Establishing a brewery in a small town can offer numerous benefits. Small towns often foster strong community spirit, and a local brewery can become a gathering spot, enhancing the town’s social life.
The demand for craft beer and unique local brews has been on the rise, and a brewery can cater to this trend, offering unique flavors inspired by local tastes and ingredients.
Furthermore, a brewery can contribute positively to the local economy, creating jobs and attracting beer enthusiasts from surrounding areas.
Plumbing is a necessary service in every town, regardless of size. A plumbing business in a small town can thrive by providing essential services such as repairs, installations, and maintenance. Given the nature of the work, most customers prefer a reliable local business that can respond promptly to emergencies and provide trustworthy service.
16. Thrift Store
A thrift store can be a successful venture in a small town as it provides an affordable shopping option for residents. With a focus on reused and recycled goods, thrift stores are appealing for their unique, ever-changing inventory and environmental benefits.
Locals can find unique treasures, antiques, or everyday items at lower prices, and also have a local outlet for donating their own used items. The intimate atmosphere of small towns allows thrift store owners to understand their customers’ preferences, offering a more tailored shopping experience.
17. Radio Station
Running a local radio station in a small town can be a unique and fulfilling business. It can serve as a community hub, providing local news, music, and event updates that larger, non-local stations don’t cover.
Small town radio stations can foster a stronger sense of community by highlighting local issues, promoting local businesses, or even broadcasting high school sports games. They also allow for direct interaction with listeners, further establishing a connection with the community.
18. Flooring Installation
A flooring installation business can thrive in a small town setting. Residential and commercial buildings regularly require new flooring or repairs, creating a steady demand for professional installation services. A local business can offer personalized attention to detail and a high level of customer service, creating trust and building a loyal customer base.
19. Funeral Service
Operating a funeral service in a small town is a business that provides an essential service to the community. During times of loss, families often prefer the personal touch, understanding, and empathy that a local provider can offer. With a deeper knowledge of the community and its traditions, a small town funeral service can cater to specific local customs and preferences.
The business can build strong relationships and a reputation for compassionate service, which can lead to word-of-mouth referrals. Despite being a solemn industry, it’s a stable one with constant demand.
20. Computer Repair
A computer repair business can be a vital resource in a small town. In today’s digital age, virtually everyone uses computers, and inevitably, these machines can break down or require maintenance.
A local computer repair shop can provide timely, personalized service, saving residents from having to travel to larger cities or send their devices away for repair.
Furthermore, a computer repair business can expand its offerings to include related services like tech support and training, enhancing its value to the community.
21. Ice Cream Shop
An ice cream shop can be a successful and delightful addition to a small town. It’s a business that appeals to all ages, providing a treat during hot summer days and a destination for family outings.
As a local establishment, the shop can offer unique flavors based on local produce and tastes, differentiating it from larger chains.
An ice cream shop adds to the charm and appeal of the town, enhancing the sense of community and making it a happier place to live.
22. Seminar Organization
Organizing seminars in a small town can be a unique and rewarding business. Educational or informational seminars on various topics can cater to the ongoing learning interests of the residents.
The seminars could cover a broad range of subjects like personal finance, gardening, digital literacy, local history, or even cooking classes. By closely understanding the community’s interests, the business can offer relevant and engaging seminars.
23. Assisted Living Facility
Running an assisted living facility in a small town can provide a necessary service to the community. It ensures that elderly residents can receive the care they need without having to move away from their familiar surroundings, friends, and family. The small-town setting often enables a more personalized, home-like environment, enhancing the comfort and well-being of the residents.
Furthermore, this type of business contributes to the community by providing local jobs and supporting families who need care for their older relatives, filling a significant need while offering a meaningful service.
24. Bed and Breakfast
Operating a bed and breakfast (B&B) in a small town can be a successful venture, particularly in towns with tourist attractions or natural beauty. A B&B offers travelers a more personalized and homely lodging experience than a traditional hotel.
Owners can provide local insights, making guests’ visits more enjoyable and memorable. B&Bs can also serve as an economic driver for small towns, attracting visitors who will shop, dine, and participate in local activities, supporting other local businesses.
25. Barber Shop
A barber shop is a sustainable business idea for a small town due to the constant demand for hair grooming services. Residents appreciate the convenience of having a local barber who can provide personalized service and understands their preferences.
In addition, a barber shop can become a social hub in a small town, contributing to the sense of community. The business can also grow through word-of-mouth referrals, becoming a well-established part of the town’s fabric.
26. Farmers’ Market
Setting up a farmers’ market in a small town can be a thriving business, promoting local agriculture and fostering community spirit. Farmers’ markets support local farmers by providing them a direct channel to sell their produce, often leading to fresher, healthier, and more diverse offerings for consumers.
These markets can become community gathering points, enhancing the sense of community while promoting sustainable living. In addition, they can attract visitors from surrounding areas, contributing to the local economy.
27. Repo Business
Starting a repossession or “repo” business in a small town can be a viable idea due to the constant need for debt recovery services. This type of business works with lenders to recover property from individuals who have defaulted on their loans. Even in small towns, there’s a demand for such services.
Operating a repo business in a small community can offer advantages like a deep understanding of the area and personal relationships, which can aid in locating and repossessing items.
28. Liquor Store
Operating a liquor store in a small town can be a profitable venture due to the steady demand for alcoholic beverages for personal consumption, events, and celebrations. The business can tailor its selection to the tastes and preferences of the local community, providing a more personalized shopping experience than larger chains. Moreover, being the local provider, the store can ensure convenient access to products, fostering customer loyalty.
29. Local Hospital
Establishing a hospital in a small town is an excellent way to provide a much-needed service to the local community. In many small towns, access to comprehensive healthcare services may be limited, and residents may have to travel long distances for certain types of care.
A local hospital can offer essential services close to home, enhancing the health and well-being of the community. Furthermore, a local hospital can significantly contribute to the local economy, providing a range of job opportunities and attracting healthcare professionals to the area.
30. Landscaping Service
Homeowners and businesses often require professional help in designing, creating, and maintaining their outdoor spaces. A local landscaping business can cater to these needs, providing personalized, high-quality service that respects the local environment and preferences of the customers.
Additionally, landscaping enhances the beauty of the community, and a local business can cultivate strong relationships leading to repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals.
31. Donut Shop
Donuts are a popular treat for all ages, providing a quick breakfast option or a sweet snack. A local donut shop can offer unique flavors, fresh quality, and a friendly atmosphere that differentiates it from larger chains.
The lower startup and operating costs in a small town can make this an affordable venture. Furthermore, a donut shop can become a beloved part of the community, providing a place for locals to gather, while also attracting visitors and travelers with its tasty offerings.
32. Window Washing
A window washing business in a small town can be a viable and profitable venture. Residential and commercial properties alike require regular window cleaning, but it’s often a task owners prefer to hire professionals for due to the labor and expertise involved. A local window washing service can offer personalized, reliable service, building trust within the community.
33. Gas Station
Everybody drives in a small town, which means everybody needs gas! With everyone reliant on transportation, fuel is a necessary commodity, ensuring a steady demand for your business. A gas station can also offer additional services like a convenience store or car maintenance, diversifying its income streams.
A local gas station can become an essential part of the community infrastructure, providing services that both residents and passersby need, contributing to the local economy.
34. Grocery Delivery
Starting a grocery delivery service in a small town can be a successful business idea, particularly in the current times when online shopping and home delivery services are in high demand. Such a service provides convenience for busy individuals, elderly or disabled residents, and those who prefer to avoid shopping in person. It can offer a more personalized and reliable service compared to large national companies, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
35. Shoe Store
Shoes are a necessity for people of all ages and interests, ensuring a constant demand. A local shoe store can provide a personalized shopping experience, understanding the community’s needs and preferences. The store can carry products suitable for local activities and weather conditions, differentiating itself from larger chains.
36. Junk Removal
Both individuals and businesses frequently need assistance in removing and disposing of large items, waste from home renovations, or simply decluttering. A local junk removal service can offer prompt, reliable, and environmentally responsible disposal solutions, building trust within the community.
The lower startup costs, including equipment and waste disposal fees, typical in small towns can make this a feasible business. Furthermore, such a service supports a clean and tidy community environment, making it a valuable addition to the local services.
37. Consignment Shop
Operating a consignment shop in a small town can be a viable business idea, as it provides a platform for local residents to sell their used items and shoppers to find unique, affordable treasures. It promotes sustainable consumption by extending the life of items and reducing waste. The consignment shop can cater to the local community’s tastes and needs, providing a more personalized shopping experience.
38. Insulation Business
With an increasing emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainability, homeowners and businesses often seek professional insulation services to reduce energy costs and improve comfort. A local insulation business can provide personalized assessments, recommendations, and installations tailored to the specific needs of the community. The insulation business contributes to environmental sustainability by reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions in the community.
Just like the local barbershop, every small town needs a great pharmacy or two. Pharmacies play a crucial role in providing medications, health products, and pharmaceutical services to the local community.
By establishing a local pharmacy, residents no longer have to travel long distances to access their prescription medications or healthcare needs. A small town pharmacy can offer personalized customer service, building trust and strong relationships with patients. Additionally, pharmacies often serve as a source of health information and support, contributing to the overall well-being of the community.
40. Mechanic Shop
With many residents relying on their vehicles for transportation, having a local mechanic shop ensures convenient access to automotive repair and maintenance services. A small town mechanic shop can provide personalized service, establishing trust and building long-term relationships with customers.
Being a local business contributes to the community by creating jobs and supporting the local economy. A mechanic shop fills a vital need in a small town and can become a trusted resource for residents’ automotive needs.
41. Electrical Business
Electrical services are consistently needed for residential, commercial, and industrial properties, ensuring a steady demand for your expertise. A local electrical business can offer personalized service, timely response, and build trust within the community.
Furthermore, being a part of the community can lead to repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals, contributing to the sustainability and success of the business. Additionally, the business can support other local businesses and contribute to the overall development of the small town.
In small communities, there is often a demand for dining options that offer local flavors, a cozy atmosphere, and personalized service. A restaurant can become a gathering place for residents, a hub for socializing and community events. The lower rent and operational costs in small towns can make starting a restaurant more affordable compared to larger cities.
Additionally, a restaurant can contribute to the local economy by creating jobs, sourcing ingredients from local farmers and suppliers, and attracting visitors from surrounding areas. With careful planning, a well-executed restaurant can become a beloved establishment within the small town community.
43. Pet Store
Pet ownership is prevalent, and residents often seek convenient access to pet supplies, food, and services. A local pet store can cater to the specific needs and preferences of the community, offering a diverse selection of products for various pets.
The business can actively contribute to the local community by supporting pet adoption events, hosting pet-related workshops, and fostering a sense of pet-loving camaraderie among residents.
44. Laundry Business
It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it! Residents and businesses often require laundry services, including washing, drying, and folding clothes, linens, and other textiles. A local laundry business can provide convenience by offering pick-up and delivery services, saving customers time and effort.
A laundry business can contribute to the local economy by creating jobs and supporting other local businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, and healthcare facilities, which may require regular laundry services.
45. Cleaning Service
Residents and businesses often seek professional cleaning services to maintain clean and tidy spaces. A local cleaning service can provide personalized and flexible cleaning solutions tailored to the specific needs of the community.
The lower startup and operating costs in a small town make it a financially feasible venture. Moreover, a cleaning service can contribute to the overall well-being of the community by creating jobs and ensuring a clean and healthy environment.
46. Blood Testing Lab
Opening a blood testing lab in a small town can be a valuable and essential business. Blood testing is a crucial component of healthcare diagnostics, aiding in the detection, monitoring, and treatment of various medical conditions. Having a local lab eliminates the need for residents to travel long distances for testing services, providing convenient access to healthcare.
The lab can offer a wide range of testing services, including routine blood work, specialized tests, and screenings. By providing accurate and timely results, the lab can establish trust and collaboration with local healthcare providers.
Wineries often attract tourists and wine enthusiasts, providing a source of local pride and economic growth. In a small town setting, a winery can benefit from the surrounding natural beauty, creating an appealing destination for visitors. It offers the opportunity to produce and showcase locally grown and crafted wines, highlighting the region’s unique flavors and terroir. The lower land and operational costs in small towns make it an attractive proposition for starting a winery.
48. Home Improvement
Are you always giving your friends and family tips on how to fix things up around the house? If so, starting your own home improvement business could be the perfect move for you.
Homeowners often require professional services for renovations, repairs, and upgrades to their properties. A local home improvement business can offer personalized service, understanding the unique needs and style preferences of the community.
49. Internet Cafe
Starting an internet café in a small town presents unique opportunities that may not be as pronounced in larger cities. In many small towns, residents might lack consistent or high-speed internet access at home, making an internet café a valuable community resource.
Furthermore, competition is likely to be minimal or even non-existent, allowing a new business to establish itself as the primary hub for online activities. The tight-knit nature of smaller communities can also foster word-of-mouth marketing, leading to loyal and consistent patronage.
49 Small Town Business Ideas
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