Although I'm looking into a brick-and-mortar retail business, I'd love to hear about other industries, too–you never know what may be useful info!
To save a lengthy backstory and a trip down memory lane, I'm looking to buy an established, profitable, brick-and-mortar retail business in a niche industry that I managed for several years (several years ago).
In my town, aside from some small amount of overlap in products with major retailers, we only have two "real" competitors, but even they specialize in different areas, so the local competition is not aggressive, and we have good communication with them.
If I'm going to assume the risk of owning this business, I want to offer more products and services to my customers. I'd like to expand my customer-base into a wider and mostly under-served market, which will require stepping on the toes of the other existing retailers, few though they are.
Below are some general questions I have, but feel free to offer your own tips, or ask more questions. I may not be available immediately to reply, but I do appreciate your time!
What do you look for when sizing up your competition? How do you go about researching them? What was the most valuable and/or interesting thing you learned about them? What lengths have you gone to to learn about the competition?