Tuckshops continue to sprout in many residential areas in Zimbabwe. Many of these are illegal and at risk of being demolished whenever the City Council decides to go after them. However, you can open and operate a legal tuckshop in the country. In this article, we explore how you can do this.

Registration / Licensing

As soon as you have registered your company, the next port of call is your respective council offices. Most city or town councils in the country have provisions for pre-planned corner shops (tuckshops) on their master plans. You can either lease the land or buy it. Once this is done, you then build your tuckshop and apply for a license. There are two types of licenses, a temporary one and a permanent one. Most temporary licenses are valid for 3 months and are usually issued while you await full regularisation of your operations. It is important to note that most if not all tuckshops in residential properties are illegal and you need to be careful when considering renting a building from an individual. It may be an illegal building.


Depending on the size of your tuckshop and the stock you want to keep, this business needs reasonably low capital to start. With RTGS$1 000 one can start this business. However, if funds permit, you can go big and keep large amounts of stock especially seeing that prices of most commodities keep rising.


Most councils require that a tuckshop should be located not more than 50 metres away from ablution facilities. You need to check with your council if there are any other special requirements in your preferred area of operation. Generally, a small room with ample shelve space will do. This is because you have to display some of your products where potential customers can see them. Since some of your products will be food items like fruits, eggs and vegetables, high levels of hygiene are important in and around your premises. Always ensure that litter is well disposed of.


Normally, a tuckshop is manned by one person. This person can make or break your business so you need to teach them the basics of customer care. Smiles to customers and honesty in cases where customers forget their change will go a long way in endearing your tuckshop to the public.


Your market is normally the people who stay in close proximity to your tuckshop. Because you are selling essential products like bread, sugar and salt which most other shops also sell, you need to come up with strategies to lure customers to your business.  Study your market well. See what sells and what doesn’t and make informed decisions.


There is need to study your competitors. Check what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong and devise ways to be better. Do not make the mistake of getting into the business just because your next-door neighbour seems to be making money out of it. Do it because you have done your research and know what will sell. In addition to the normal sugar and bread, make efforts to stock products that other tuckshops don’t. Remember, retail businesses like tuckshops rely heavily on sales volumes. As such, find products that sell fast.


In this line of business, insurance is important. Without it, all your investment may be wiped out by one incident of theft or fire. Insurance premiums can be costly but they are necessary. In addition, invest in a robust security system. A simple alarm system may do the trick.


While investing in a computerised till for a tuckshop may be a little over the top, you still need to ensure that you follow the trends when it comes to the use of technology. Seeing that cash is hard to come by these days, you can make use of mobile money platforms like OneMoney and Ecocash. A point of sale (swipe) machine is also not a bad idea at all if you can afford it. This will ensure that you do not lose customers because you are unable to accommodate their mode of payment.

Other tips

If you are selling perishables like vegetables and fruits, you need to ensure that they are always fresh. Check expiry dates on your other products. Rotten fruits and vegetables will drive away customers. So will expired goods.

You need to have strong stock management measures in order to curb theft. Make sure if you employ someone, you pay them competitively. This may reduce their chances of stealing from you.

As a tuckshop owner, you need to keep abreast with council regulations. These tend to change so the last thing you need is being caught unawares. Always stay ahead of the pack and keep your operations legal at all times.

If you have access to foreign currency, you may find that it is cheaper and more profitable to procure certain products abroad.

A tuckshop business has the potential of bringing in profits if done well. You have to be willing to put in a lot of work in planning, forecasting, marketing and pricing. Differentiate your tuckshop from the rest and you will be better positioned to earn more from your business.