If a Sim wants to be their own boss, Running a Retail Store is an expensive but freeing and enjoyable way to make money. Veteran Sims players may be reminded of several previous iterations of the franchise, but there are a few key differences.
Note that the process of creating and running a retail store is similar to Running a Restaurant. If you already have the Dine Out Game Pack installed, you will be familiar with the process.
First, the adage "one must spend money to make money" is in full force for Sims. You cannot start a store on the Sim's home lot, but you do need an empty lot or a converted unoccupied house. In theory with few products and the cheapest lot, you could open your own shop for about §6,000. Ideally however, you'll be starting with §20,000 or more as if you're making a new house.
Setting up a Store
To purchase your store lot, have your Sim click the cash register icon in the interface to open the Store Panel, then click the dropdown box and click to add a store lot. If the game is paused, you'll need to unpause it to proceed. Note that the "Buy a Restaurant" option is available only if you have the Dine Out Game Pack, and the "Buy a Vet Clinic" will be available if you have the Cats and Dogs Expansion Pack installed.
From there you'll be taken to the neighborhood screen, and you can purchase a lot anywhere you wish. Note that you can own as many stores as you want provided you can afford it.
Once you arrive, the first prompt will ask you to transfer funds from your personal account to your store account. You can only use the store account to make purchases on this lot, and it includes Build Mode objects and any products you wish to sell. You can freely transfer money between your accounts anytime with Simeoleon button two arrows indicated near the account amount at the bottom-left corner of the screen.
The only necessary item for the store is a cash register item (found in the Retail Sort), the cheapest of which costs §50. You'll also need something to sell, the cheapest of which can be cheap items from the Build Mode catalog. Details about merchandise will be further down the page.
This means the absolute cheapest setup can happen for a few hundred simoleons. However, the Get to Work Expansion Pack calculates a lot's "curb appeal." This is an invisible score that affects how many customers you will see. A lot with only a cash register and a single item on the ground is going to attract practically no attention.
While the specific style is up to you, you must create at least a small lot with a decent environment score. You won't have to build too fancily at first aside from ensuring your lot is complete with full wallpaper and lighting, but eventually you'll want to buy exterior decorations and bright exterior lights to attract the most customers.
If this sounds like too much work, you can purchase lots that already have stores established. However, the ones that ship with Magnolia Promenade cost upward of six figures, so only an incredibly wealthy Sim would be able to afford it.
Anything can be sold in the game, including other Build Mode objects. Objects will attract more attention if it's displayed well, but you have total freedom in what exactly to sell. If you want to sell an item you purchased from Build Mode, buy it and place it first, then have your Sim interact with it and choose the Set for Sale interaction.
The game does not calculate theming of your merchandise. For role-playing purposes you can create a store that specializes in one specific item, or you can do a catch-all retailer with different departments and a variety of products.
There are a few special items you can purchase in the Retail Store sort of Build Mode if there are specific items you wish to sell. For example if you wish to make a grocery store, you'll want to buy the stand-up freezers. If you want to make a bakery, you'll need to buy the display freezer cases to place your finished goods in. If you want to make a clothing store, you can purchase mannequins.
The mannequins are an interesting item themselves. Once placed, your Sim can interact with it and create a full outfit from the whole suite of clothing from Create a Sim. The game will assign it a cost, and when you restock the mannequin it will create a copy of the outfit you made.
If you decide to sell craftable items like food or paintings, you can create copies from the original for instant, lesser cost. These copies are less valuable than the original, but copy creation is instantaneous. Ergo you can create your main item, make copies and sell them, then make more copies from the same original. If you make copies of copies, they're even less valuable, as are copies of copies of copies and so on.
After an item sells, it will leave a "footprint" or card representing the empty shelf. If you leave empty shelves too long, it will upset customers and lower the number who arrive. Interact with the empty shelf to restock it. If it's not a craftable, the item will be replaced at cost.
You can interact with a placed item to change its price, but expensive items will upset customers and be harder to sell.
Running a store alone is incredibly difficult, but you can hire employees from among the townies and other Sims to help you out. Once hired, you can assign them tasks or prevent them from specific tasks you wish to divide your labor. Employees have needs, so you'll want to make at least a small break room and a bathroom. Customers are unlikely to stick around long enough to use the facilities, but you may want to make the bathroom public anyway. You can lock the doors to the break room to prevent non-employees from accessing it.
To hire a new employee, go to your store lot and select the Store Panel. The button you need is the small round one on the top row, second from the left.
At first you can only select one employee. All possible applicants will be listed along with their requisite Skills. These do affect the speed of their selling and restocking efforts, and the better employee, the more expensive they will be.
During a working shift, you can open and close the store whenever you wish. If you're working in your store, you only need to manage your own needs. With employees however, they will start to complain and be angry if you keep them longer than eight to ten hours, even if you're taking care of their needs. Upset them too much and they'll quit. You can also set uniforms for your employees to wear with the button adjacent to the employee management.
If you have enough employees, you can have your store run even when you're not there. Open the Store Panel while you're at home and you can order the store open, then close it when you're done. The employees seem to have more tolerance to work longer hours if you're not there.
Customers will gain their skills as they work for you and in turn demand raises. You can fire them at will as well if they demand too much or just if you're feeling vindictive.
As you build a strong customer base and have a good reputation, you will acquire Store Perk Points. Click the bottom-right button of the Store Panel to enter the perk store. All the perks are self-explanatory and will help you sell items or restock the store faster.
Selling a Store
Through the Store Panel, you can select to sell your store back to the market. You'll have to settle any debts if your store is in the red, but otherwise the money will convert to your personal account. You can then revisit your store as a customer or even rebuy it (with more simoleons) if you change your mind.
Up Next: Magnolia Promenade
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